Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Build a Tripod Pole Bean Fence

by Maggie Montgomery

Pole beans are fascinating. They are delicious and indeterminate and have long tentacles. Indeterminate plants produce beans all year, unlike bush beans that produce just one main crop. Pole beans also mature later than bush varieties and for that reason don’t always produce well in northern Minnesota. They need scaffolding to support their vines, which can grow to 10 feet or more! Nevertheless, they are fun to experiment with in the garden, and this year I built a pretty nifty scaffold for our Kentucky Wonders.

This scaffold consists of three tripods made of popple (aspen) saplings and two top poles. I tied each tripod as shown, and stood it up. Standing up a tripod correctly is a little tricky. The outer two poles have to form a Vee to hold the third pole in the crotch for stability. Don’t force the tripod into formation too hard, or you’ll break a pole and have to re-tie the whole thing with a new post (voice of experience). The idea is for the Vee to hold the third stick rather than letting any pole hang by the ropes.

An upright pole attached to the middle tripod provides a center post to tie to. I used scavenged twine from hay bales to create the net and tie the tripods together. Someone said a bean scaffold is a garden sculpture! It sure is kind of neat to look at, and should get better as the beans grow.

The photo above was taken on July 4th. The beans are just coming up. The sprinkler somehow edged its way into the picture too (maybe because it also is a tripod)!

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