There are a lot of structures in my kitchen garden, all designed and built by my husband Scott with some small assists by me. They stand out this time of year before vines and foliage fill them and the rest of the garden grows up around them. There are net-covered frames to keep birds out of the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, plastic-covered cloches to capture heat for tender plants like peppers and eggplant, squash and melons, and trellises to hold up peas and beans.
The fruit structures are permanent, the cloches in use year-round are moveable, but the pea and bean structures get reassembled every spring, a ritual that adds welcome height to the garden landscape. The sugar snap pea trellis goes up in February, then the fava bean “corral” goes up in late April or early May to surround the floppy stalks of fava beans, and then finally there’s the pole bean trellis, the one that takes the longest to assemble but that is the most beautiful. It’s the triangles but even more it’s the strings, creating what looks like a large musical instrument, an Aeolian or wind harp.
We assembled the pole bean trellis this past weekend using 2×2 inch 8-foot cedar that we’ve had for nearly twenty years. The wood is getting pretty worn especially the ends that spend the summer in the dirt, but the pieces are good for one more year. Scott connects them with screws so that at the end of the season we can unscrew and store them.
“Triangles create stability” is Scott’s mantra and his design is definitely stable, holding up to heavy vines and summer winds. The three main triangles support both the top and the base pieces. At the ends of the trellis, more triangles stabilize the central structure. To anchor the trellis to the ground and keep it from blowing over, Scott pounds stakes at an angle into the ground at the base of each pole and screws the stakes to the poles. When the frame is done, we string the sisal twine from the base pieces to the top, spacing the twine every eight inches, lining it up with the slits in the T-tape irrigation.
In the soil beneath this beautiful bean instrument, I plant seeds of beans that will climb up the twine, filling the frame with leaves, then blossoms and finally pods, some for fresh eating but most for shell and dry beans. This year for fresh beans I planted Fortex, Gold of Bacau, Rattlesnake and Northeaster and for shell and dry I planted Good Mother Stallard, Aunt Jean’s Pole Bean, Soissons Verte, Pole Cannelini, Golden Lima and Bonds Orcas Lima.
I’m hoping for warm weather for good seed germination and a long, warm summer for maturing beans, but right now I’m simply admiring this beautiful structure that graces our garden each spring.