We’ve been gardening for a few years now, but we still don’t quite have it right. We discover new problems and new solutions every year. This past year I decided I wanted to grow peas, they are a favorite of mine, but I quickly discovered my 4 3′ rows were not enough. On top of that, the “trellis” we threw together was just crap. This year I put out a little money and made trellises out of PVC piping. I didn’t recycle anything, but it was cheap, quick and should last at least a few seasons. This is the kind of thing you could gather supplies for from yardsales, craigslist, or freecycle earlier in the season to make it even cheaper.
PVC Piping (I used 1/2″)
PRO TIP: Find a way to flatten the chicken wire. If you do, let me know.
MEASURE: This project is very easy to customize to fit your garden perfectly. The plant determines the height (check the seed packet or internet), and your beds determine the width. We garden in wooden beds bought from Sams; we have 2 rows of 6 3’x3′ squares. I was pretty sure the box said 4’x4′, so I don’t know what happened there. I knew I wanted 4 A frames per square, running from side to side (this would allow me to pick from the outside AND inside easily). I measured across for the tops bars (3′), and figured I wanted it to be four feet tall. When I found the pipes were sold in 10′ lengths, I went with 5′ to make it easier. Our chicken wire, very convieniently, came in a 3′ width, so we only had to figure length. We went with 4′ mostly because, of course, we are late to do this and my plants were already a few inches high, but I like to have the wire fall a few inches above ground level anyway. Make sure you account for the length of pipe that will be in the ground when you measure for your wire.
CUT: Using a saw, cut piping to size. We used a 45 degree angle cut for the 5′ poles to help them go into the ground more easily. Using wire cutters, cut chicken wire to size.
ASSEMBLE: Use 2 elbows, 2 side poles, and a top pole to create a large U shape. Lay the chicken wire on top and attach with zip ties, only on the sides. This is one half of the A frame. Repeat to make another half. Hold the halves together and attach at the top with more zip ties. Done!
It is best to have these in the ground as soon as possible, but if you’re like me and behind with most everthing, you can put them in a week or two after planting. If you wait, be prepared to weave your plants into the chicken wire.
Granted this is the first time I’m doing this, but I imagine at the end of the season, this will be very easy to pull out and store to use for many years to come. The zip ties at the top should be loose enough to allow the whole thing to fold flat, and you can either hang them from rafters or slide them under/behind something. If you let the pea vines dry, they should be easy to pull out.
This idea is very basic and is only limited by your imagination. You could use wood instead of PVC; 4 stakes with a dowel at the top will create a pivoting A frame. You could run twine horizontally and vertically instead of using chicken wire. You could use bamboo or long sticks to create a pea teepee. You could even grow them on an exsiting chainlink fence. We tried that last year, too, but the ground near our fence was too hard to break.
If you are in to green beans and cucumbers, this will work for those, too. Ours will be up in the coming days!