Friday, July 25, 2008
My Rube Goldberg Pole Beans
If you're old enough to know who Rube Goldberg was, when you see this picture you'll know why I used his name.
This year I planted a few vegetables on a dirt terrace along the side of my house. I chose it because it's off the deer's beaten path. When I said I wanted to grow Kentucky Wonder pole beans, my son offered to put up poles and fencing. But it turned out there wasn't enough room for poles and fencing plus squash plants.
So I devised the . . . um . . . interesting setup seen here. I hammered a piece of rebar into the ground and tied a circular tomato cage to it. Then I partially nested another cage into the first and tied that one down as well (using strips of cloth). Because the cages weren't close enough to the ground to snag the young plants, I tied on lengths of string so that they would hang down.
This caused some major head-shaking among people who saw it, but the beans climbed the string, and then the cages. All was well until last week, when a t-storm caused the beans and their support to pivot and list to starboard. I counteracted this by running string from the beans into my kitchen, going through the window and tying it to an iron pipe. That resulted in perfectly straight beans until yesterday morning, when I found that another t-storm had moved them once again. The string to the kitchen was now slack because they were listing to port.
So I ran another string out to my son's ham radio tower. I'll tell him to think of my green sisal as guy wires. To prevent us from walking into them at neck level, I hung strips of cloth. Contrary to what you might think, these white strips are not an attempt on my part to surrender to the beans.