I did manage to do a test build of our new fruit cage system over the weekend. The photo above shows the frame without the net obviously but this is simply attached with mini cable ties. I thought this 'naked' version might give you a better view. Please be aware the tops of the poles would end flush with the top rail, I just put it together temporarily and haven't hammered them down yet.
I know I am prone to getting excited about things but I must say I am very impressed with this system; it is very easy to build and makes a very strong and permanent structure.
Tried and tested clamp system The clamp system we are using is the same as that used on safety railings. I have seen the same poles and fittings on the handrails used at a local harbour and expect if it is good enough for the North Atlantic it'll survive in your garden.
The galvanised poles slot into the cast steel fittings (also galvanized) and are locked in by turning the stainless steel grub screws with an allen key. The zinc galvanised coating protects against rust, the stainless screws won't rust either so can always be turned for disassembly or adjustment. We will also be supplying plastic end caps for the pole tops to prevent moisture running down the inside of the tubes.
Optional extra fittings Apart from the main structure we also supply extra fittings to further enhance your crop cage. I guess a door is hardly and added extra but we supply sturdy hinge, latch and connector kits which allow a door to be made in 10 minutes. For very exposed sites we can supply diagonal braces to further strengthen the structure if high winds are a concern.
For crop cages placed on grass I have also ordered brackets which allow timber boards to be fixed around the base to form a mowing/strimming strip. I have this arrangement on my own timber cage; by attaching the netting 2 inches above ground level (there is 2 inches of bare timber below the net) I can strim or mow around the base of the cage and keep it looking neat.
Building method Here's the trick: rather than trying to map out where all the poles go (I'm hopeless at maths) I assembled the roof part on the ground first and pulled it about a bit until is was lying square. The fittings are open on both ends so by using one of the poles I was able to push it through the fitting and into the ground to mark each location. Once the holes were marked I partially disassembled the frame and moved it to one side.I am lucky because I don't have stony ground so I easily hammered the 2.4m poles in to leave 2m above soil level. If you have a more challenging site I would recommend using a crowbar to open out a hole first, you can then drop the poles in and back fill to secure.Having erected the uprights, the fittings and connecting poles are easily fitted to the top. I put all in place by eye and then went around with a spirit level and adjusted to get everything perfectly level. I had someone to help but we got the whole thing done in about an hour.
Here's what I like about it:
- The brackets are cast steel, you will not be able to damage them no matter how rough you are during assembly.
- Brackets can be assembled and taken apart as many times as you like so any mistakes can be easily rectified.
- The tubing in heavy duty for garden applications, it is much more substantial than anything we have seen on comparable products and will stand year round exposure.
- A very wide range of fittings are available to create fruit supports inside the cage and other additions to the basic structure.
- The finished structure is more than fit for purpose, it will give many years of service.
The Price As I said these kits are permanent solutions for serious gardeners so unfortunately they won't be cheap. For those of you familiar with our mainframe system the new version will be nearly twice the price. However, when I compare like for like with other fruit cage manufactures our solution is approx 20% cheaper.
As an example, the cage featured in the photos is a generous 3.6m x 5.4m. For the full kit in the photos, including a door and netting the price will be approx €650.00.
Interest I have stock here to make a small number of kits but need to place a larger order before I put all the products live on the site. If you thought you might be interested in one of our new fruit cages please drop me a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org with the approx size you need. Don't worry, I won't follow up unless you ask me to, I just want to get an idea of how much interest is. Either way we will have stock ready to order by the end of next week.