Monday, August 16, 2010

Bean Excitement!

Over the years I've devised some pretty feeble methods of growing pole beans. I guess the most memorable was my Rube Goldberg-like nest of tomato cages, which had to be tethered to the house and a radio tower. Last year's effort, a curtain of beans, was prettier, but the yield was almost non-existent.

This year I have nailed it (almost literally)!! Checking out a message thread entitled "Show Me Your Trellis" on GardenWeb, I saw the bean support of my dreams: a 16-ft. cattle panel (I had never heard of a cattle panel) bent to make an 8-ft. tall arch. The base was secured with posts driven into the ground. The whole thing cost less than $35. The bean arch met all my criteria for the perfect support; it was homemade, easy, permanent, and cheap. I was in love.

I borrowed my son's pick-up and set out in search of a cattle panel, which turned out to be surprisingly easy to find. It was only slightly more difficult to persuade my son to set it up for me. ("Homemade" and "easy" are relative terms.) Once he did, I planted my beans: Kentucky Wonders, which my family has always loved, and Fortex, which the bean people on GardenWeb rave about all the time.

It was exciting to see the seedlings emerge, and even more fun when they got tall enough to start climbing. I can walk under the arch, and I'm so looking forward to reaching up to pick handfuls of beans.

I chose the terrace to set it up because (so far) deer don't walk there. Apparently a woodchuck does, though . . . the lettuce I planted in a big bin got eaten the other night. Also growing in containers on the terrace are cucumbers and beets. Oh, and two containers of pole beans, which are climbing up my son's radio tower. When I thinned the plants growing by the arch, I couldn't bear to throw away those thinnings. They had tried so hard to produce their beautiful, strong root systems. (Can you tell I anthropomorphize everything?)


Dona said...

I love this idea and maybe next year, when we try to do some container gardening outside the fence will try it, assuming we can find a cattle panel.

Susan said...

Dona, I bought mine at Agway. I've heard people in other states mention the Tractor Supply Co. I think you're likey to find cattle panels at a farm supply store. Hog panels are very similar and would work, too.

crystal said...

Beautiful photo :)

What is a cattle panel? I really like the idea of a trellis. I wonder if it would work with grapes?

Susan said...

Hi Crystal - A cattle panel is a length of fencing used to pen cattle. I don't know how many it would take to make a pen, but each section is 16' long and 5' wide. They're surprisingly heavy. I couldn't have handled it myself. The store bent it in half for me, and I brought it home that way. I'm sure grapes would love it!

I ate my first two beans today!

Helen said...

I can certainly understand your excitement.