Vegmonkey and the Mrs.

Vegetable growing in a very small space in Cheltenham

Build – a – ball Brassica cage February 10, 2008

After the cabbage white butterfly decided to lay a load of eggs all over the purple-sprouting broccoli which led to an invasion of yellow and black caterpillars, i have decided to provide some protection.

The initial idea of something homemade really wasn’t very good (i got a bit confident after the creation of the cold frame!) so i splashed out on the Build-a-ball system from harrod horticultural. I think it cost somewhere around £40 for the balls and the metal parts. It was quite complicated to order, but i was happy with what i purchased. The size was 2.4m x 1.2m which is the size of our beds so i had to get the hacksaw out and chop the equivalent of the boards that surround the soil…if that makes sense.

The cage will be covered with enviromesh to prevent any beasties. We’ve tried fleece in the past to cover beds, but the enviromesh is a lot finer, so keeps more out, and is a lot tougher, so will last much longer.

I’ve since been looking on other websites and at other peoples’ pictures and have seen that some people have substituted metal poles for stiff rubber tubing or garden canes. I can see how this would be cheaper but i don’t know if it would be as sturdy considering we get quite a lot of wind in our garden (insert pun here!) or be strong enough to take the weight of the enviromesh at full height. I suppose it will also depend on if the canes fit into the holes on the balls.

Taking that on board though, i’m going to use garden canes to make a smaller cage for when the plants are young, building up to the full size one with the metal poles as the Purple Sprouting Broccoli grows.  The pictures show how the build a ball as i originally installed it and the ‘new’ adapted smaller version which will still enable the greenhouse to get some light…until things start to grow…!


             BUILD A BALL BRASSICA CAGE                            build-a-ball-2.jpg



Next job: Move August planted Winter Walcheren Cauliflowers from current Brassica bed to new one.


7 Responses to “Build – a – ball Brassica cage”

  1. jodi Says:

    This is very interesting! I haven’t seen this system before…may not be available here yet, but probably Rittenhouse or Lee Valley will pick it up soon. I hope it works for you!

  2. Curtis Says:

    What neat things. Kind of reminds me of tinker toys I had when I was a kid. I can imagine all the uses for this.

    I love your raised beds. What size are the boards you use. They look like 10″ boards.

  3. Meg Says:

    I like the look of those things! I had the same thought as Curtis–they’re like Tinkertoys.

  4. I like it, I’m thinking about building something similar from wooden stakes. Are the boards old scaffold boards?

  5. Paul Says:

    Thats looks great. I’m going to try something similar later in the year all being well. I’m hoping by having lots of beds of the same sise I can build two or three ‘cages’ like this and move them around as the need arises.

    And, as others have said, those boards look perfect for raised beds, wish I could get my hands on some like that!

  6. Patrick Says:

    It’s nice to see someone else using and blogging about build-a-balls. I also just bought some, and am going to try them too. I have a lot of extra canes (bamboo stakes for the Americans reading this), so I didn’t buy any metal poles. As well as using it with Enviromesh, I’ll use them together with bird netting. I didn’t buy them for any bed in particular, just some loose balls to make adhoc cages as necessary. I’d never heard of them before a few months ago.

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