Upcycled String Trellis

by - April 27, 2012

Even after I've planted my veggies beds to full capacity, there's always one more packet of seeds I'm drying to make room for. Yesterday it was the handful of French Climbing Beans I saved from my vines last year. They didn't grow well because the Purple Hyacinth Beans and Turkey Craw Beans choked them out. So instead of eating the few beans that grew, I let them dry on the vines to save for this season. Because these can be trained up a trellis, I decided to plant them at the fence behind the potatoes and corn, where the beds are too deep to reach.

I mounted a rooster weather vane on a fascia header board that partially rotted on our roof. I was happy to be able to employ my no scrap wood left behind policy. Joe does not share this policy with me, so sometimes I am forced to rescue pieces from the "headed to the dump" pile. Last year I purchased about 20 tomato stakes from Logans. I've found that with my heirloom tomatoes, stakes just don't offer enough support. I'm better off planting them against a fence and tying up the branches. So I've been left with a bunch of stakes to create trellises from. I took two of these stakes - one which was badly warped - and nailed them to the fascia header board and fence to create a frame for a string trellis.

Once I tied up twine every 3 - 4", I found that it would quickly tangle if there wasn't something to weight it down. I gathered up small rocks from the "quarry" and tied them to the end. Now if there is a breeze, they just sway a little.

There are several benefits of the location of this trellis. First, it runs east to west, which means that the beans won't cast a huge shadow on the garden as they grow. It is on the south side, so there will be some shadow. (Northern hemisphere means shadows are cast from the south; Southern means they are cast from the north); however, corn is to be adjacent to it, which is tall. Because it is located on the fence, I will be able to easily access it for picking, and it will provide a screen for deer who might crane their necks over to steal the corn (in theory).

How to create your own string trellis:

  1. Gather materials to make a frame. You can use pipes, stakes, lumber or tree branches.
  2. The height should be to the expected height of the vines you are growing. French climbing beans grow to 6 ft high, and my trellis is just under that. Because my stakes were only 5', I mounted the lateral on the fence.
  3. After nailing or screwing your frame together (or using pipe connectors), set it into the ground, or mount it to your fence and test to see if it is sturdy. While bean vines may not get very heavy, the structure should be sturdy enough to stand up to wind. If you are using a fence for support, twist ties are a quick and easy way to secure the trellis.
  4. If you have kids, make sure they either know not to climb or hang from your trellis or childproof it.
  5. Tie twine spaced to meet the needs of your crop's required spacing. You can do this as your seeds sprout.
  6. Because twine is easily blown around, either stake the ends into the ground, or weight them with rocks as I did.

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  1. That is so beautiful. I never thought of using loose hanging string as a trellis.
    I am quite new to this, so please forgive the question: You said that that this version of beans could climb. I am about to plant green beans, and was sure that all bean varieties climbed. Am I wrong about that? Do I need to replan my beds?

  2. Ruth, beans can be either bushing or vining, and the seed packet will specify which it is. Typically, vining beans will be labeled as "pole" or "climbing".

  3. that's about genius. I might be using your method here and planting some bean vines where I thought I wouldn't be able to. does this also work for cucumbers? would I need stronger frame materials?

  4. Cucumbers might need a little more support. Mine grew well on the wire remesh tunnel last summer. Check out this trellis: http://www.veggiegardener.com/how-to-build-simple-cucumber-trellis/

  5. I've seen that design around, but I have raised beds and was hoping to do something a little more ... formal looking, ha! I have a roll of leftover wire screen, holes about 1 cm wide, that I could use. Perhaps a hybrid is in order!

  6. Page, I just checked the packet, and all it says is green beans. I did a wiki search, and wiki says that green beans are 'the unripe fruit of any kind of bean'
    I can't help but laugh. This is the first time I am seriously attempting to grow vegetables. I guest next time, I might stumble around in the dark a little less :-)



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