I LOVE growing sugar snap peas and pole beans. As long as they can get started before the slugs try to overwhelm them they’ll grow like nobodies business in our environment. They produce and produce until you can’t stand the idea of another fresh pea or bean. Then you make dilly beans!
The only challenge I have is trellising them. I like the varieties of peas and beans that can grow to five or six feet tall. Those things can take down small buildings when they are at their peak. I’ve used t-posts and twine, chicken wire, a stock panel bale twined to t-posts, and all manner of things to trellis them and I have two recurring issues. First is whether they hold up or not, and second is the clean up. The twine is compostable but a real pain to untangle and it doesn’t break down in a season, but doesn’t hold up real well either. My twine wrapped tiller was a great exhibit of how it can all come out of hiding the next season.
Inspired by some garden images I saw on Pinterest I decided to try using a spare stock panel that I had lying around in a new approach. I ran out to the hardware store and picked up some two foot long rebar stakes. You find them over in the construction section. For Burning Man we call them ‘tent stakes’. They run about $1.50 each. You only need four stakes.
The stock panel is the typical 16 foot by 4 foot panels. You can pick them up for about $20 each. They are pretty useful for all manner of things. Two stock panels, an 8′ x 10′ tarp, some chicken wire, and spare lumber and you have a super simple chicken tractor! I have used that set up for meat poultry in the past.
I placed them 4-6 inches inside from the width of the stock panel and pounded it down until only about 6″ was above ground. The hardest part was wrestling the stock panel in to the hoop form. Since it is 16 feet long it tends to want to flop down on one side so you can’t walk it in. After some cursing I got Geoff to come over and push the inside of the hoop upward while I walked the free side in. I placed the stock panel on the inside of the rebar stakes letting the natural tension created by bending the flat panel hold it in place. Super simple and done! For my purposes I also used some garden staples and weed block under the trellis. The staples look just like giant staples and are very useful for staking down ground covers. I use them in the green house to hold down weed block before putting down gravel and I use them to hold down the old tarps we put over the garden to suppress weeds during the off season.
I’ll update you on how it works out through the season. The hoop should allow most of the beans and peas to hang inside for easy harvesting. I experienced that same effect with a previous ladder style trellis. On a bit of a whim I decided to transplant my kale plants to the open area under the hoop. They like shade so they should be happy when the peas and beans fill in and create a nice shady oasis during the summer peak.