Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I seem to be growing a lot of two kinds of plants – those that are mostly root vegetables, and those that are vines. Part of this is the joy of heirloom gardening; almost all old-school tomatoes are indeterminate (i.e. vining); so are many beans, although there’s a few older bush varieties. Most heirloom peas are tall. Most squash are not bushy.

So lots of my plants go up. I’m a big fan of vines, especially ones you don’t have to tie to things (yes, tomatoes, I’m looking at you). On the other hand, I’m a big fan of less labor, and however you cut it, trellises are labor. Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is how to make all that trellising as low labor as possible.

Since I’m not in my own space, I need to use something that can come down at the end of the season (or after I leave/move spaces). Bamboo, according to sources in the know, is relatively cheap. It’s also renewable, light, and comes in long sections. There’s also varieties that grow around here; I doubt that’s the variety in the gardening center/hardware store, but the potential is good. So I’m trying to come up with a way to plant/configure these poles that is aesthetically pleasing, but relatively easy and (most importantly), stable.

The teepee is traditional – three or four poles tied together at the top for climbing beans or squash. I don’t like that the poles will be closest to the paths, while the fruit will be farthest into the row; stretching into masses of scratchy squash leaves for every harvest seems a little more like pain than I like.

Since so many things are going up this year (and hopefully next), I’m considering something more along the lines of this:

which is beautiful and simple. I may try strings on the vertical, especially for the lighter crops. If I’m feeling very ambitious, two of those frames linked together (at the top and/or bottom) would be more stable.

If I’m feeling ambitious at some point, I love the clean look of these designs: http://www.tucsongardener.com/Year02/Spring2002/trellis.htm.

I don’t really want extra tool (drill) but I do like the idea of bolts and wingnuts. It won’t happen this spring, but maybe after my bamboo trellis goes the way of the compost heap.

Also, this is totally the sort of thing I’d pay a handy-person a little extra to put together . . . if there are any starving artists handy with a truck for delivery and a drill, they could make something. (But generally the prices charged are completely out of hand. I don’t need my trellis buffed, polished, painted bright green, or inlaid with butterflies. I just need it upright for a season.)

No comments: