Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Supporting Cast

I was inspired by Dan's recent post about his move to compostable supports for his plants to get out and photograph my supports for this year's garden. As with most gardeners, everything is a work in progress, but I make refinements as I go along. For pole beans, the problem is getting them tall enough. This year, 8' long redwood 1x1s seemed to be the answer. They're tall, even after stuffing them in the garden bed, and a quick screw or two to the back fence helped make them even more sturdy. Quite possibly as sturdy as this fence! The corners might have a screw in place (thank goodness for an electric drill) but I think I also might have just tied some in place. This one has both. A few turns around and a square knot, and it's the horizontal upper piece in place.

Along the bottom, above the soil level, I tied a long piece of the compostable twine. At intervals, it's held down by pins made from wire hangers, so it's relatively stable, just at the beginning. Over the horizontal bar, I just tossed the ball of twine so there are V-shaped loops hanging down.

One of the Scarlet Runner beans is as tall as me if I'm on the ground, so it's got to be up about 4-5' from its start. Too bad I transplanted a whack of bush beans along one section of trellis!

The beans aren't the only plants with partially-compostable supports. Tomato cages give me fits. If they're the stacking round ones, they're generally not sturdy enough for big, indeterminate varieites, and the sturdy round cages I make myself are a storage nightmare. If I had a barn or something, I'd just do that but on a small, urban lot, storage is a key consideration.

This year, I tried an idea I've been percolating for some time. The 6" square concrete reinforcing wire that comes in big sheets makes a nice "alley" put up with sections of rebar.

The tomatoes go staggered in there, and as they start flopping around, sticks get inserted at strategic points to restrain them. Wayward branches moving out the sides get tucked back in or up, however they can be fit.

I figure, at the end of the season, I'll pull out the sticks, and hang the still-flat wire along a fence. Worth a try, at least.

The hot weather has had the bees out in force, drinking from the new "fountain," (really an old refrigerator drawer with water and bits of wood for landing platforms in it) a lot. It gets near constant traffic. Click for a closeup of her tongue.

Unfortunately, the friendly, useful bees aren't the only visitors to the garden. Does anyone know a good purpose for yellow jackets?


Susan said...

I love that first shot from the ground up the poles. And I find it so interesting to read about your problem-solving. I have some tall trellises but now I can't decide if I want to grow pole beans or honeysuckle.

Stefaneener said...

What do you like to look at and eat more? Which do the deer eat less?

I can't wait to see either.

suzee said...

You're gonna have some beans.

I'm trying the "trim and pretend it's a vine" technique of tomato support this year, and being surprisingly vigilant about it. I'll post some photos once they get a little taller.

Would love tea. I'm actually almost entirely free tomorrow, my last weekday off for the summer, or the weekend.

patricia said...

Wow--my two little teepees of beans have nothing on yours. You can make "dilly beans" like my grandma used to.

Your tomato support contraption is brilliant.

Cheryl said...

Another good idea on how to trellis pole beans. I've never grown pole beans before, but you can do some creative things with them.

Kristin said...

The 1st photo reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk. I love canned beans. I bet your going to get many of them.