Gardening in Florida has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. One of the bigger disadvantages we face, is the constant onslaught of insects which seem to have had special forces training and are bent on destroying our crops. Well, up here in Pasco County we have another set of circumstances that we have to worry about…critters. That’s right, chickens, rabbits, rodents, and sometimes even Bambi. So for a quick and easy fix, try a small plant or seedling cage.
It’s a simple enough concept. Its just a small stick-framed box made to your desired size specifications and covered with chicken wire on all sides but one. This open side will be the side you lay on the ground over the plants forming a protective box around them.
I made mine out of 2x4s and fairing strips but I’m sure that 2x2s would work I just had some extra laying around. For this project you’ll need six upright pieces at the preferred height of your cage (this is where the 2x2s should come in), four pieces to run the length of the box (these should be the fairing strips), and four pieces for the width of the cage to close the ends of your box (these can be fairing strips also).
You will also need some chicken wire, also called poultry wire. I used the 2 feet x 50 feet type that come in rolls and can be picked up at the local home improvement store and I managed to get two cages out of it.
When you’ve got your supplies ready, simply cut six risers to the desired length. These will form each of the four corners and one on each side of the box for extra support. Lay three of the risers down on the ground and line them up with two of your length pieces – one flush with the top and outside corner and one flush with the bottom and outside corner. This should form one side of your box. Attach these together with your preferred method (screws, nails, or I prefer a pneumatic system where I can use nails and switch right to staples without changing tools.)
After attaching the length pieces and forming one side of the box, repeat with the other three risers and two length pieces so you will have two sides framed out and laying flat on the ground.
Grab one of the width pieces and stand one of the sides up on end. Attach it at the end, flush with the top and outside edge. Now stand the other side up and attach the other side to the top and outside edge of that. This can be made easier if you ask someone to hold the other end while you do it, but it can also be done by yourself.
At this point, it should stand up on its own. Take another width piece and attach it to the top and outsides of the other end of the box, then do the same with the remaining two width pieces on the bottom edge. Now you should have a box and you will only need to add the chicken wire.
I made my box two feet wide which made it easier to apply the two-foot wide chicken wire. This part can really be made much easier by having someone else hold the chicken wire, but it once again can be done (carefully) by yourself.
Roll the chicken wire across the top of the box, stapling it where it has been twisted together for strength, attaching it to the wooden frame. Once you have completed this cut the wire, roll the box on its side and repeat the process. If you roll the chicken wire with the length of the box, you can simply wrap it all the way around the box, stapling as you go and only have to cut it one time.
When this is complete, just check the edges for any sharp pieces that might cut you or anyone else and you have a seedling cage. Place the open end over your plants in the garden to protect them.