Fruit Cages-Protecting Your Fruit and Crops in 2020
Coming into Summer, I have been receiving numerous calls from customers wishing to construct a fruit cage out of Kee Klamp tube and fittings.
On receiving the first such call, I must admit that I had no idea what the customer was looking for. A quick search of Google ensued, while still on the phone, to see if I could help out. I immediately came across the following pictures, which led me to question if these fruit cages were necessary in Ireland.
Protecting Trees From Pests
The rest of our conversation, along with similar inquiries which I received, answered my question. Of course they were required. While maybe not containing magnificent citrus fruit orchards to rival those in Spain and France, we grow plenty of plants and trees here in Ireland which are ravaged by not just wildlife, but birds and other garden pests.
It was explained to me that the most logical deterrent would be to provide a netted "cage" around the perimeter of the trees or crops, preventing most unwanted pests from entering. Obviously the size of the squares in the netting would determine what could get through and what couldn't.
Fruit Tree Cage Design
Of course, constructing and building a fruit cage using Kee Klamp fittings was very possible, and very easy to design. Although the fittings allow for any type of structure to be created, in most cases a simple rectangle or square frame was sufficient. This allowed for all the necessary plants and trees to grow inside, with the height and width being easily customised.
Disassembling The Cage Once Outgrown
The nature of the fittings, using a grub screw that locks the tube in place, means that the cage can be easily disassembled and taken apart once the tree has grown too big for it. This can be used again on new, smaller plants.
Constructing a Custom Fruit Cage
The image above shows a fruit cage by Harrods, showing what fittings would be required to build it. There are 3 main fittings used in its construction, the 20-6 Side Outlet Elbow for creating the top corner of the cage and the 10-6 Single Socket Tee which joins the securing uprights to the horizontal bar at the top.
The 62-6 Railing Base Flange which can be bolted down onto concrete, secured the upright poles in position and holding the frame to the ground. An alternative option to the base flange would be to bed the base of the upright in concrete. I would usually recommend doing this to a depth of 300-400mm.
Installing A Gate In the Cage
A gate can also be constructed to allow access to and from the crops/trees. This is also easy to build, using 4 of the 15-6 90° Elbow fitting as the corners of the gate. Once complete, the gate can be hung to a tube upright using the pin and eye fittings, which create a hinge effect. The 83-6 Pin Fitting is attached to the upright, while the 78-6 Eye Fitting is attached to the gate. Use 1 of each fitting at the top and bottom to secure the gate in place.
Mesh Or Netting For Your Tree Cage
With the frame complete, all that is left is to attach the netting/mesh. Obviously the smaller the squares on this, the more unwanted pests will be kept out of the cage. If netting is required, we have found KT Nets in Donegal to be very helpful whenever contacted, being able to recommend an appropriate solution.
Now that my eyes have been opened to some of the problems that gardeners face in trying to protect crops and trees, I feel much better prepared for all inquiries about fruit and crop cages. Hopefully I can help someone out in the future, with this or other garden structures. One guarantee is that the Kee Klamp range ensures that every type of structure is possible.