Sunday, June 2, 2013

Building a Square Foot Garden Trellis

All Stops Are Out

The threat of spring frost in Utah is over by about the last week of May. I have been taking the covers off the garden beds during the day for about two weeks. Now I can leave them off at night too. The peas we planted on March 30th are about seven inches tall and their long, delicate tendrils are reaching out looking for something to attach to. It's time to build trellises for the vines that would otherwise spread out across the ground without something to climb.

When it comes to gardening and creative ideas Mel Bartholomew is the pro. In the All New Square Foot Garden he suggests putting plants that will need a trellis along one side of the garden box and, if you live in the northern hemisphere, to use the north side of the box so the shadows cast by these plants will not shade other sun-loving plants in the box. Here is a trellis he features in the book.

What You Need to Build a Trellis

For one trellis you need two pieces of 3/8 inch diameter rebar in two foot lengths, two pieces of 1/2 inch diameter electrical conduit in ten foot lengths, two right-angle connector joints for the electrical conduit, and nylon netting to string across the frame. I found everything I needed at a home improvement store except the netting. In my area, the only place I found netting was in the garden department at WalMart.

Rebar at each corner, 2 five-foot lengths of pipe shown on the ground,  connectors and four-foot length of pipe resting on the box
Connectors for pipe

Building the Trellis

The trellis is easy to build. Cut one of the lengths of conduit into two five-foot long pieces; these are the vertical sides of the trellis. Cut a four-foot long piece from the other piece of conduit; this will be the crossbar at the top. You'll need a hacksaw to cut the conduit. If you don't have one you may be able to have someone at the home improvement store cut the conduit for you.

The rebar is the foundation for the trellis. Outside the box where you want your trellis, pound the rebar into the ground at each end until only about six inches is still visible. Slide one five-foot piece of conduit onto each rebar then connect the four-foot cross piece using the right-angle joints. The only thing left is to cut the netting to the appropriate size and tie it to the frame. 

Now you have a nice-looking, sturdy frame for your peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and other climbing vegetables to grow on. By keeping these vines off the ground you use less space and you protect the vegetables or fruit from insects. Even though this frame is quite sturdy, Mel says it will need additional support if you are growing vines with heavy fruit.

Here's wishing you the best of success in your garden. May your vegetables bask in abundant sunlight.

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