Children of the bean

Children’s Bean Teepee – Instructions For Making A Bean Teepee

Children love to have “secret” places hide or play in. Such enclosed areas can spark many stories in their imagination. You can make such a place for children in your garden with just a little bit if work. And the bonus is that you can also get a wonder crop of green beans or pole beans in the process. Let’s take a look at how to make a bean teepee.

Steps for Making a Bean Teepee

Growing runner beans on teepees is not a new concept. This space saving idea has been around for centuries. We can apply this space saving technique to making a fun playhouse for kids.

Building the Bean Teepee Frame

To make a children’s bean teepee, we need to start by building the teepee frame. You will need 6-10 poles and string.

The poles for the bean teepee can be made of any material but you do need to keep safety in mind in case the children knock the teepee over. The typical material for making teepees for beans is bamboo poles, but you can also use PVC pipe, thin dowel rods or hollow aluminum. It is recommended that you avoid heavy materials like solid metal or heavy, thick wood rods.

The teepee poles can be whatever length you decide. They should be tall enough so that the child who will be playing in the bean teepee will be able to stand up comfortably in the center. Also take into account the desired diameter of your bean teepee when selecting the size of your poles. There is no set diameter but you want it to be wide enough for the children to be able to move around inside.

Your bean pole teepee should be located in a spot that gets at least 5 hours of full sun. The soil should also be rich in organic material. If the soil is poor, mark out the edge of where you will be placing the bean teepee poles and amend the soil on the edge of that circle.

Set the poles into the edge of the circle and push them into the ground so that they angle into the center and meet the other poles. Poles should be spaced at least 24 inches apart but can be placed further apart. The closer you place the poles, the more densely the leaves of the beans will grow.

Once the poles are in place, tie the poles together at the top. Simply take string or rope and wrap it around the meeting poles. There is no set way to do this, just tie the poles together so that they cannot come apart or fall down.

Planting the Beans for the Children’s Bean Teepee

Choose a bean to plant that likes to climb. Any pole bean or runner bean will work. Do not use bush beans. Scarlet runner beans are a popular choice due to their brilliant red flowers, but a bean with an interesting pod, like a purple pod pole bean, would also be fun.

Plant a bean seed on each side of each pole. The bean seed should be planted about 2 inches deep. If you would like a little extra splash of color, plant every third or fourth pole with a flowering vine such as nasturtium or morning glory.* Water the seeds well.

The bean seeds should germinate in about a week. Once the beans are tall enough to be handled, tie them loosely to the bean teepee poles. After this, they should be able to climb on their own. You can also pinch the tops of the bean plants to force them to branch out and grow more densely.

Keep the bean plants well watered and be sure to harvest any beans that grow frequently. This will keep the beans plants producing and the bean vines healthy.

Learning how to make a bean teepee will help you create this fun project in your own garden. A children’s bean teepee is a place where both plants and imaginations can grow.

*Note: morning glory flowers are poisonous and should not be planted on teepees meant for young children.

When Monkey Boy and The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird were young, I would build them a bean teepee every summer. Back then, we lived on a .25 acre lot and because there was not an abundance of trees, I would purchase 6 foot bamboo poles at the Home Depot.

These days, we live in a more wooded area so we can make teepees a big as we want now.

If you have never built a bean teepee {or even thought about building one} for your kids, and you have the space, you should give it try. Not only will your kids think you are the coolest parent ever, but if you space the poles far enough, your children will be about to walk into the teepee, giving them a unique summer “clubhouse.”

Lets get started.

First, you’ll need to decide how wide you want the inside of your teepee to be. I spaced my poles far enough apart so there was about 4′ of open space in the center, which is plenty of room for a child and their friend to sit down and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Next, gather {6} 1o’ wooden poles and secure them together with twine, both at the top and the bottom. Make sure you push the poles deep into the soil so they don’t fall over if it gets a little windy or Fido walks by. Most pole beans grow about 6′ tall, so don’t feel like you have to haul 10′ poles home from the hardware store. 6′ poles will work just fine.

Once you have your teepee poles in place, rake the soil from the center of the circle to build up a nice mound of dirt around the teepee base.

Then, plant a generous amount of pole beans in the mound of dirt surrounding the teepee, and water as necessary.

You should have a fully covered teepee in about 60-70 days.

Last year we planted squash at the base of the teepees and it did really well. So if you have the space, go crazy!

If you are interested in learning about the history of teepees, check out Tipis, Tepees, Teepees: History and Design of the Cloth Tipi by Linda Holley. Amazon currently has the book on sale for $11.55.

How to Make a Teepee for Your Climbing Beans

How to Build a Bean Teepee

Choose a spot that receives at least five hours of direct sunlight every day. Prepare the soil first by digging in plenty of well-rotted compost or manure.

For our project, we’re using 8 foot long bamboo canes, and making the structure about three feet wide. A wide, tall structure can make a fun den for kids to play in.

Use a garbage can lid or similar object as a guide for your circle. Position the first canes at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, then fill in between, setting the canes about a foot apart. Then tie string onto one of the canes, near the top. Flex the next cane towards it and tie it into place. Repeat for each cane until they’re all secured.
Help the beans get a grip of the teepee by running string horizontally across the canes. For this height of teepee we’re using three lines – the first about a foot above the ground, then the other two evenly spaced along the remaining length of canes.

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Grow Beans Up Your Teepee

Sow two beans at the base of each cane, then remove the weakest of the two seedlings. Alternatively, plant well-grown seedlings that have been started elsewhere. Lean young plants against the canes and loosely tie them in. They should then begin to climb without any further help. Water beans after planting and keep the soil moist to encourage steady growth, lots of flowers…and plenty of beans!

Once your beans start producing, check the teepee every couple of days and harvest any pods you find that are big enough. The more you pick, the more they produce.

Our Garden Planner includes a teepee icon that you can drop into your plan and adjust to the size of your teepee in your garden. Check out your plan’s Plant List to see personalized planting and harvesting times for your garden’s location.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.

Green beans or snap beans, are great fresh from the garden, canned or frozen. One of my fondest memories as a kid was picking green beans from my aunt’s garden and snapping them on the front porch with my dad, uncle, cousins, brother and sister. Okay, it wasn’t “fond” at the time, but you know what I mean. As a kid we never want to do anything but, when we look back as an adult, the view is much different. As a kid, I hated it. As an adult I remember great conversations and lots of laughter with family.

As adults we find ourselves doing the very things we despised as a kid. How many times did you wonder if there were child labor laws against weeding your parents’ garden?

So you want a garden but space is limited? Whether you’re container gardening, or have a small garden, there is a way to grow your green beans and take up minimal space. “How is that?” You ask?

The trellis. That’s right. The type of green bean you’re looking for is a, “pole bean”(aptly named don’t ya think?) You will have to train the plant to climb (which isn’t difficult) but once you do, the space you use is “up” not “out”. If you have a small space the pole bean is for you.

There is another good reason for building a trellis. The trellis allows you to harvest your beans while standing upright! So take some of the pressure off your knees and back, and build that trellis.

All the ideas I’m show you today can be used regardless of your garden size. Just make adjustments accordingly.

Here are 7 great ideas and examples.

1. Garden Trellis: This video will show you a basic design for a large trellis in your garden. If you are container gardening you can use the same idea – but make it much smaller.

4. Small is effective: This photo proves you can grow green beans in a container. A small trellis was created and it looks like very little work is required. The Trellis is within the container itself. The plant grows “up” not “out”. Pretty neat. http://www.grow-it-organically.com/growing-green-beans.html

5. Back saver: Not only is this trellis easy on your back it’s a conversation piece as well. I picked this one because I would love to put this in my backyard so my friends and family could ask me, “how did you do that?” It’s absolutely gorgeous. There is nothing wrong with creating beautiful things to help your plants grow. Also, equally interesting, if you look at the bottom of the trellis, you will see the beans are not planted in the ground. They are in containers.There are no instructions, but it looks to me like PVC pipe and string. I’m sure the adventurous out there will have no problem making one for themselves. I’m not a builder myself but this is going on my list of, “things to do.” Or my husband’s list. http://www.jeffersonsdaughters.com/2013/07/25/whats-at-stake/

6. Trellis in a Raised Garden Bed: If any of you built your own raised garden this year, and you want to add a trellis, here is an article you’re going to love. Not only is this an attractive trellis, there are full instructions and a materials list. http://eartheasy.com/blog/2013/04/how-to-build-a-bean-trellis-for-raised-garden-beds/

7. Re-purposing: My last choice is all about, “re-purposing.” The photo shows an Arbor that has, what looks like, squash growing around it. If you have an arbor you’re just not sure what to do with? Don’t tear it down. Use it to grow anything that climbs to include green beans. You could also do this with an old swing. Let your imagination run wild. Gardening should be fun and if you have kids get them involved. One day your kids may too, look back, and have great memories of gardening with you.

Author-Melissa Hovey

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To register for one or more of these sessions, click the “register now” button and follow the online instructions. We follow the Union County Public School calendar for most breaks, holidays and snow days. All pricing includes materials and class registration. A $50 non-refundable deposit (which goes towards your total) is required to hold a spot, and the remaining balance is due by the first class meeting. **If you are registering more than one child there is a 10% sibling discount that will be applied to your second registration.**

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This year, I changed my vegetable garden into a combined perennial/vegetable border. It’s a long story but basically, the squirrels got the better of my veggies last year and I swore never again. Since I will have flowers and vegetables growing in one space, I wanted some decorative and functional items in it. This DIY Bean Teepee looks great and gives great support to climbing beans.

How to make a DIY Bean Teepee

The garden is huge – about 1100 square feet and I’ve transformed it with walkways, arbors, paths, and all manner of flowers. Also growing in it are my favorite veggies: tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, broccoli, bush beans, cucumbers and pole beans.

The pole beans are heirloom seeds from my great grandmother’s garden from the late 1800s which have been painstakingly saved from the beans in each generation of gardeners.

This type of support works best with pole beans and other climbing string beans. Bush beans don’t need as much support. If you are wondering about the differences between pole beans vs bush beans, check out my article on growing beans. It gives lots of great growing tips for both types of beans.

I needed something for the beans to climb this year, as well as a decorative accent in my new combined bed that would not look too “vegetably” if you know what I mean.

I came up with this idea for a bean teepee that not only allows my beans to climb beautifully but is easy to make and also makes a great garden accent. Oddly enough, this bean teepee is the most commonly “liked” part of my gardens by friends that wander through my beds.

This teepee is simple to do, requires very little in the way of supplies and is very durable. I’m going to make a smaller one for my cucumbers to climb now.

Supplies:

  • 5 x 8 feet tall green plastic tomato stakes. (I used left over ones from last years garden)
  • 1 leg of a pair of nylon pantyhose (I used a gray pair because that is all I had but colored ones would be great too.)
  • Rubber mallet (affiliate link)

Assemble your poles and make sure they are all the same length. Mine were 8 feet long and about an inch thick and fairly solid plastic.

Design for the Teepee

Decide on the area where you would like your teepee to sit. You will be making a structure that is similar in shape to a traditional teepee, with a large opening in the front. The opening allows kids to sit inside it, and a place to enter to pick the beans.

The foot print of my teepee ended up being about 5 feet wide. Now comes the fun part. Grab your rubber mallet and pound the tomato poles into the ground at the five entry points. You will pound them into the ground at about a 45 degree angle. Don’t bother trying to support them at this stage. Just angle them and pound away.

The photo below shows the angle of the poles near the ground when the teepee is upright. When you pound them in, they will be more angled. I didn’t have to stand on a ladder when I pounded the stakes in. I just used my height as the angle (about 5′ 9″).

Tie the pole together

When all five stakes are pounded into the ground, grab their tips and just pull them all up to the height where you want them joined. There will be quite a bit of tension in the poles as you pull them upright. Take your elastic stocking and wrap it securely around the tips and tie in a few knots. I stretched the elastic very tightly and it has not drooped at all, and has been in place with vines for several months.

I put my knot at the back so the front of the teepee was not too unsightly.

Plant your seeds at the base of the poles

At the entry point for each of the poles, I planted my heirloom bean seeds in a circle. I placed about 12 seeds around each pole and just watered and allowed them to grow. As the plants grew, I had to take the tendrils of the plants and gently start them wrapping around the pole. Once they started, they just climbed beautifully.

My last thing to do was to plant a large hosta in the back of the opening. This is not necessary, and not wanted if your children will sit in there, but since my baby is 24 years old, I did not think I’d have to worry about that part. I just wanted it to look well in my vegetable/perennial garden. The bean teepee gives the shade that the hosta loves.

What a beautiful structure this makes!

This is the DIY bean teepee after two months of growth. Isn’t it great?

And here it is from a side angle. I used five poles, but you could add more if you want the inside completely closed in. Imagine how the kids would love it and they could snack on healthy snacks while they play inside too!

This DIY bean teepee was so much fun to do that I decided to make another one for the cucumber patch beside the beans. This time I used shorter 5 foot poles and attached some side braces to allow the cucumbers some support as they grow up the pole.

This is such a cute scene in my garden. Almost like mama and baby teepees. One of the best things about this DIY bean teepee is how easy it is to do. I did not have any help when I did it, and it took me all of about 30 minutes from start to finish. I love it now that it is done and admire it every time I walk by it, as do all my friends!

What do you use in your garden to help your climbing plants behave? Please share your projects in the comments section below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How to Make a Bean Teepee

Defining the Bean Teepee

In its most simple incarnation, a bean teepee is three or four pieces of wood lashed together at the top. The base of each pole is thrust into the soil at roughly equal distance from the adjoining poles. Bean seeds are planted around the base of the poles and the beans are encouraged to climb the poles. Lima and green beans are often grown on bean teepees instead of a trellis.

Advantages of a Bean Teepee

Bean teepees are typically very inexpensive. Wooden dowels, saplings, bamboo or milling scraps are readily available and provide the necessary strength, as well as an easy surface for the bean vines to twine around. The uprights can be reused, especially if they are removed from the garden and stored under cover during the rainy season.

Choosing Materials

The classic teepee is composed of three poles, but four or more may be used. Each pole should be the same length and about one-and-a-half inches in diameter. The texture of the pole can be rough or smooth. Although any kind of wood can be used, weather-resistant poles of cedar, redwood or cypress may last longer. Twine, heavy string or wire can be used to fasten the poles together.

Beans for a Bean Teepee

Any variety of climbing or pole bean can be grown on a teepee. Potential types or varieties include:

  • Blue Lake
  • Kentucky Wonder
  • Goldmarie Vining
  • Asparagus or Yard-Long Bean
  • Winged Beans
  • Sieva Lima
  • King of the Garden Lima
  • Christmas Lima
  • Runner Beans
  • Hyacinth Beans

Planting a Bean Teepee

No special techniques are required to plant a bean teepee. If you plow, till or double dig the soil, do that well in advance. Add amendments to the soil prior to erecting the structure. Aged manure, well-rotted leaves or compost will add humus and nutrients to the soil. Plant four to six beans about one inch deep around each pole.

Permanent Bean Teepees

Treated wooden poles may last longer than untreated wood, but for a permanent teepee, metal is the best option. Steel rebar from a construction project is one option, although rebar is fairly heavy. Aluminum poles are another and lighter possibility. Wrought iron can make a very attractive teepee that will last a lifetime, which can help offset the initial expense.

Kids will dig this home grown secret hiding place! It’s fun to put together and the anticipation from the young ones is priceless.

A bean teepee can be made in less than an hour if the ground is ready for planting, you’re not striving for perfection, and you have spare materials lying around. This one took a little extra time because our spot was rocky and we decided to build up the planting area using small boulders.

To put up a teepee quickly, you will need the following materials:

  • Friendly garden soil ready for planting at least 18″ deep. By “friendly”, we mean, “Will anything grow here, now?” When in doubt, amend it with some compost.
  • 5-8 posts, bamboo poles or sturdy poles at least 6 feet high.
  • Seeds for beans (the climbing type) or seedlings ready to plant.
  • Wire, sturdy tape or twine to fasten the poles together at the top and to attach sticks or old vines to the structure.
  • Sticks or old vines to help the beans climb and add some character!
  • Method to water the beans. You can water by hand if you don’t have an automatic system. (Our approach was the take an existing sprinkler tube and attach a small diameter soaker hose, wrapping it around the teepee.)
  • Stakes for the poles (If you cannot stick the poles in the ground easily and/or if you’re concerned in high winds the teepee could take off.)

Here’s How To Quickly Build a “Mean Bean Teepee”:

1. Prepare the Earth – For best results, make sure your spot is at least 4 feet by 4 feet and 18″ deep. The ground should be crumbly and if too compacted, loosen it up. Add some compost to the mix if your soil is all clay. If you are adding soil above the existing surface, try half compost and half garden soil (or clean fill dirt).

TIP – You can mound up the soil near each pole to plant the beans. Make sure each mound can accommodate for two bean plants. Follow the directions on the seed packet or seedling package.

2. Arrange the Poles – Spread out the poles and gather them at the top. Make sure to leave an opening at least 2 feet wide for the door. Tie the poles together at the top using wire, tape or whatever will hold well. It works better to have a tall helper but as we found, it can be done by one fairly tall person who is familiar with the game Twister.

TIP – Think about where you want the door to be in relation to your backyard and home windows. We chose to not see the door when looking out from the house.

3. Add Reinforcement – Stake the poles. (If not sticking them in the ground.)

TIP – Staking the poles in the ground was a lot easier than pushing them in because the ground below was rocky. And even though the teepee is 10 feet from the house, high winds could make it fall over. Still, if your garden area is soft enough and you’re not worried about the playhouse flying away, you may opt to forgo the stakes.

4. Attach some climbing character – Once the structure was stable, we started attaching old grape vines to the teepee in a whimsical pattern.

TIP – You can use long twigs or anything strong enough to support a vine. Attach them in such as way that it makes it easy for the bean vines to travel up.

5. Plant two bean plants per pole. Make sure they are the climbing type!

TIP – Once the vines start growing, you can help them attach themselves to the poles by gently tying them close to the poles with loose twine, string or even sections of pantyhose. Put those ugly knees highs to good use!

6. Water your beans. We hooked up 1/4″ soaker hose all around the teepee, eliminating the need for individual sprinklers at each plant.

TIP – Watering the ground directly also keeps the bean plants healthier – and your kids less soggy while they hide in their mystery hut.

Somehow, even with the teepee uncovered, our backyard has taken on a new life, especially from the kids’ point of view. They are so excited about what could happen in and around the teepee.

See this massive bean teepee in progress from GSO Edible Schoolyards for an example. Your bean teepee could be covered completely by mid summer.

I wish we would have done this years ago!

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