Whether you are a contractor adding a garden for a client or a potential homesteader trying gardening for the first time, you may be surprised by how helpful basic wire mesh can be in the garden. Below is an outline of some of the basic uses of wire mesh and the amount you will need to start a small garden in a 10' by 16' plot.
You can start the planting season up to a month earlier if you use a miniature greenhouse to help keep frost from harming delicate seedlings in your garden. These same greenhouses can extend the harvest season in the fall by a few weeks. Miniature greenhouses are made by cutting a length of wire mesh to make an arch and then covering the arch with gardening plastic. These greenhouses can be made with varying widths and heights. Ideally, you should make them progressively smaller so that they can stack easily for storage when they are not in use.
Most gardeners plant in waves, which means that they will not need greenhouses for their entire garden. Usually, about one third of the garden will be planted early, so you will only need to make enough green houses to accommodate this. In a small or medium sized garden, designed to feed 2-4 people throughout the summer, you would need to cover about 10' by 4' with miniature greenhouses. If your roll of mesh is 5' tall, you will need roughly 40' of mesh for this project.
Support for Creeping Plants
Once your trellising plants start growing, they will need something to attach to in order to grow up. Wire mesh attached to posts placed every 5'-7' apart can make an excellent support for your beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and even heavier plants such as squash. You can attach the mesh to the posts using cable ties or pieces of bailing wire. Assuming that the majority of your plants are climbing plants, you will need between 70'-80' for the previously mentioned garden for four people.
As an alternative to both miniature green houses and linear support, many people elect to use tomato towers to support their vertically growing plants. You can make a tomato tower by cutting a length of mesh 6' long. You should make sure you cut the mesh close to one of its vertical wires so that you have long pieces of free wire poking out of one side. Next, curl the mesh into a tube and, using pliers, wrap the free pieces of wire around the vertical wire at the beginning of the tube. Each tower should be staked firmly around one seedling.
These use considerably more mesh than their linear counterparts, as each plant requires roughly 6' of mesh. However, each tower can become a miniature greenhouse if you add plastic around it, and these towers tend to keep out garden pests. If you use tomato towers for your beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash, you will need between 15-20 towers. This is between 90'-120' of wire mesh.
Chicken tractors are a great way to till your unused garden space. A chicken tractor is basically a portable chicken coup. Although there are many designs, the most basic design uses wooden posts for a frame that is covered in wire mesh, with a waterproof roof attached to the top. For a small or medium garden, your chicken tractor should be about 3' tall, 4' wide, and 5' long. To complete this project, you will need around 12'-15' of mesh.
If you add all of these projects together, keeping in mind that you will use either towers or miniature greenhouses with linear support, you will find that for a small garden, feeding up to four people for the summer, you will only need about 150' of mesh.