For help in building your CaveGarden, visit Craigslist where builders are encouraged to post under "CaveGarden Construction" (Pictures below)

Please note that you visit websites selling means to manage vine plants that the costs are numerous times the following cave garden option. In one case a 3-foot tall metal teepee that would manage four plants sold the same as the basic cave garden which will manage twenty (20) plants. Unless one is a socialite wanting to have cocktail party conversation topics, one should seek optimal return for the least money spent, that is, garden like a baby chicken: cheap, cheap, cheap.

Construction of Caves--also see Downton Arbors

Basically, any two parallel walls six to eight feetg apart will serve to build a cave by running the vined vegetables up, across and down. In 2012, the first year that caves were tested, they were made of bamboo. If one uses bamboo, one should use bamboo at least two inches in diameter because the growing plants exert more weight with each day. Initially using, one-inch bamboo, the author found himself strapping more bamboo to reinforce sagging caves. But this is good, as indicated by pictures of hundreds of tomatos hanging from the vines going up, going across and going down.

In considering how to connect the horizontal bamboo between the vertical walls, 2" PVC T's were used atop the vertical bamboo poles. This worked pretty good. Using string and wire, the basic frame was reinforced with cross-braces vertically and horizontally. The cuke cave was disassembled in early fall while the tomato cave lasted until Hurricane Sandy blew it down.

Being committed to cave gardening, considering costs and figuring costs, the use of 4x4 treated lumber was viewed as a better bet. The following describes how to construct a cave garden with a twelve-foot wide foot print. The vertical walls will be six feet apart with plants growing on a one-foot offset both inside and out thus providing four rows for climing vine vegetables. With an eight-foot width between the inner and outer row, an extra two feet provides movement on the outside like the inner two-foot path between the two vertical walls.

Based on present knowledge, caves can be built in any compass direction since the 2012 caves were north-south (cukes) and east-west (tomatos). If you build more than one cave in parallel, you should leave twelve feet in between them with other vegetables being planted in the buffer.

Supplies and tools for a single length cave with a slanted brace.

  1. Four (4) treated 4x4's, either 8ft or 6ft.
  2. Four (4) treated 2x4's
  3. Six (6) bricks with holes in the center for keeping the 4x4's off of the ground.
  4. Six (6) 18" long 3/8" rebar (can be purchased longer and cut to size.
  5. Five (5) pounds of 3" screws with torque heads (not straight or phillips)
  6. 1/2 drill
  7. Level
  8. String
  9. Three (3) fence posts to hold 4x4's upright and straight until screw together for self support.

Please note that the following can be done by one person though two or more make it easier and faster.

Construction sequence.

  1. Determine the size of your garden with the cave frame being centered.
  2. Vertical 4x4
    1. Place a brick with a center hole at the location of the first vertical 4x4. Drive a 18" long 3/8" rebar through the center hole leaving six inches above the brick. You could also use 1/2 PVC. This is your horizontal movement prevention stake.
    2. Drill a hole in the center of the 4x4 which can be either 6 or 8 feet tall. The hole should be larger in diameter than the movement prevention stake. Place the 4x4 on the brick and stake. Secure by tying to the previously driven fence post. Proper alignment will be completed later.
  3. End Angle support (extra
    1. Attach a 2x4 at a 45 degree angle on the side of the vertical post that will be the outside using 3" screws that have been preceded by pilot holes and depth holes.
    2. Drill a 45 degree 1/2" hole in the lower end so as to drive a movement restriction stake through the hole with a brick between the 4x4 and ground.
  4. Measure six feet away and repeat the above "Install a vertical 4x4." step and the "End angle support"
  5. Horizontal beam. Depending on how high you want your overhead, attach a 2x4 horizontally connecting the two existing vertical posts. For ease of placement, one can drill a 3" screw on both posts on which to rest the 4x4 before screwing it into vertical posts. These screws can be left in place.
  6. Constucting additional longitudinal 8ft sections is simply repeating the vertical 4x4 and horiztonal beam constuction.
  7. Once the 4x4's are erected, longitudinal 2x4s or bamboo can be laid atop for the vines to traverse.
  8. String can be tied from the longitudinal supports for the vines to clime up ... with a little bit of assistance.

2012 caves: Cukes and tomatos in addition to home page introductory images.

Example of simple cave around which crops can be rotated.

Footer on brick (please note that a 6" long 1/2" hole was drilled into underside base of the 4x4 lumber so that a 15">18" rebar (3/8" in diameter) could be driven into the ground through the brick for the 4x4 to rest on and not move.

The plants would be planted on both sides of the direction parallel to the angled braces which are for vined plants with large vegetables, e.g., melons. Thus, the side nearest the viewer would become one of the two walls of the eventual cave as the plants went up over and down.

Top connections of cave garden--deck screws were used to connet. Deck screws were used for assembly with torque heads for disassembly if need be.

In 2012, bamboo was used with two short-comings. The eventual weight of many vines with vegetables was not anticipated with the bamboo sagging. The solution was either large diameter bamboo (had used 1", should use 2") or 4x4's and 2x4's.

Another problem, echoing the first, was how the tomato cave garden collapsed from the winds of Hurricane Sandy. The above is more likely to outlast a windstorm compared to the bamboo cave (below).

In the above picture, one can see tomatos still on the vine after Hurricane Sandy knocked the cave over on Saturday, October 27, 2012. The tomatos were harvested to ripen at a leisurely pace with juicy tomatos being enjoyed into the New Yeak ... over two months later. If you have ever had a steady supply of homegrown tomatos, you won't ever enjoy the newspaper-tasting tomatos from the store bred for appearance, not taste.

Christmas 2012

New Years 2013

CaveGarden Homepage

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