How to trellis peas

This simple project is a great way to get the kids out in the garden for a little free labour…{ahem} I mean garden therapy.

Spring is the time to plant peas out in the garden. Seeds germinate well in cool soil so plants have a strong start by the time summer hits. I like to start my peas indoors then move the little vines out when they are strong enough, but you can also buy started pea plants at nurseries and farmers market this time of year.

When you plant your peas they will start to ramble and tangle along the ground and the sweet tips get munched on by just about any vegetable loving creature you can imagine (slugs, snails, the darn dog!) so it’s nice to grow them vertically up a support. The little vines cling and twine nicely around string, and this simple trellis is perfect to pack a lot of peas into a small area.

Materials:

  • Bamboo poles of various lengths
  • A spool of garden twine
  • A garden helper

Directions:

1. Stick two 6’ or longer bamboo poles into the soil on either side of your pea patch.

2. Make a frame using two more bamboo poles that measure a few inches longer than the width of your side stakes. Secure the poles together by tying twine around the poles where they cross in a figure eight pattern.

3. Using twine on a spool, tie one end of the twine to the bottom of one side of the bottom of the frame. Run the twine up and over the top of the frame, and allow to drop back down. Let your garden helper wind the twine around the frame over and over until you have reached the other side. Tie the twin in a knot on the end of the frame to secure.

4. Gently lift the tips of the pea plants and tuck their tendrils onto the twine. The peas will take it from here.

Growing peas vertically is fun, and it’s easy to trellis peas to help save space in the garden. In this post, I will talk about different pea varieties, give you tons of great pea support ideas, and show you exactly how to support peas when growing vertically.

Peas are super easy to grow, and a must for any vertical vegetable garden. They don’t need much space in the garden, and many types of peas do very well in containers too. Growing garden peas vertically is also really easy, and even more of a space saver.

Leaving pea vines to grow along the ground can lead to issues with disease, fungus and pests. Peas grown vertically are much healthier, less prone to pest and disease issues, and easier to harvest too!

But before we jump into the details of how to trellis peas, it’s important to understand that not all types of peas will climb a support.

So, before you go picking the best trellis for peas, you should figure out if the kind you have will even need a support.

Do You Need A Trellis For Peas?

If you’re interested in trying vertical gardening, it’s important to know that there are (very broadly) two different types of pea plants… bush varieties and vining (climbing) peas.

The reason it’s important to understand the difference is that vining plants will climb a trellis, and bush varieties will not. You won’t need a trellis for bush peas, but if you’re growing vining peas, then it’s best to give them a support to climb on.

Always check the seed packet or plant tag so you know what you’re getting. If you want to trellis peas, then be sure you buy pea plants and seeds for the vining types rather than bush varieties.

Trellising peas using simple wire cages

How Do Peas Grow On A Trellis?

Climbing peas send out side shoots, called tendrils, that vine out from the main stem. Those vining tendrils will wrap around anything they touch.

Peas are usually pretty good climbers, but you may need to train the vines to grow on a support. Otherwise, they can grab onto nearby fences, plants or even mulch instead of the trellis.

Why Should You Trellis Peas?

Growing peas vertically not only looks beautiful, there are also many other benefits. Staking peas, or giving them a trellis support to grow on will give you more space in your garden.

Vining peas naturally want to climb up a support, and they can start climbing on nearby plants if you don’t provide a trellis for them.

It’s also healthier for the plant, and allows for better airflow around the leaves. More airflow helps to prevent mildew and disease issues.

Another benefit of trellising peas is that it makes them easier to harvest, since the pods will hang down from the plant. Trellised peas are also easier to protect from ground-dwelling pests like rabbits or slugs.

Peas growing on a trellis

Best Peas To Grow Vertically

The basic garden pea varieties are English peas (aka shelling peas), snow peas and snap peas. You may have also heard of people growing sweet peas in their garden.

But sweet peas are not edible, they’re just decorative and grown for the pretty, sweet smelling flowers. If you’re looking to grow peas you can eat, then don’t buy sweet peas.

For climbing peas, varieties I like the best include Oregon Giant, Sugar Daddy, and Tendersweet.

If you’re looking for bush peas, varieties that I like are Sugar Pod Snow Pea, Pioneer Shell Pea and Green Arrow Shell Pea.

Climbing peas support made with chicken wire

Garden Pea Trellis Ideas

Pea vines are super lightweight, so you don’t need a heavy-duty structure to support them. But you will definitely want to think about your pea trellis height.

Some peas grow taller than others, and the heights of full grown plants usually ranges between 3-6 feet tall.

So be sure you choose the right sized support structure for peas, one that is proportionate to the size of the variety you’re growing.

Short plants will grow great on small supports like a fan trellis, a pea teepee trellis made out of bamboo stakes, a decorative garden obelisk trellis, a small lean-to style plant support, or a wire tomato cage.

Tall pea plants will need a larger structure like a tall trellis, a small garden arch, a large lean-to structure, or a wire a-frame trellis.

Arches, lean-tos and a-frames will give you even more room in your garden because you’ll be able to plant shorter crops underneath.

It’s also easy to make a homemade pea trellis using things like chicken wire or other garden fencing, lightweight pea trellis netting, or try making a simple DIY bamboo pea trellis.

Check out my easy pea arch trellis DIY project if you want to make your own using my design.

Climbing peas growing vertically

How To Grow Peas On A Trellis

Like I said above, peas are pretty good climbers on their own. But the vines will likely need to be trained a bit so that they will grow on the vertical support, rather than grabbing onto nearby plants.

To train your pea vines to grow vertically, carefully tuck the vines into the trellis as they get taller. Pea vines are very delicate and will break easily when mishandled, so be extremely gentle with them.

Peas also grow very quickly, and it can be difficult to weave the delicate vines into the trellis without breaking them. So, it’s usually safer to tie the vines to your pea supports using twine, metal twist ties or flexible plant ties.

Just be sure to tie them on very loosely, ties that are too tight can strangle the vines or make them break off as they get taller and thicker. Learn more about how to train vines here.

If you ask me, the best way to grow peas is vertically. It’s easy to trellis peas, and a great way to try your hand at vertical gardening. Just be sure you know the variety you have so you can buy the best type of support for it.

If you want to learn all about how to grow a vertical vegetable garden, then you need my new book, Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield In Less Space! It’s a vertical gardening book that is specifically dedicated to growing food, plus it has nearly two dozen beautiful step-by-step projects that you can build to grow all of your vegetables vertically! Order your copy today!

Learn more even about my Vertical Vegetables book here.

Products I Recommend

More Information About Vertical Gardening

  • How To Grow Squash Vertically
  • Growing Cucumbers On A Trellis
  • How To Trellis Grapes In Your Home Garden

Tell us your pea support ideas, or share your tips for how to trellis peas in the comments section below.

How To Stake Peas – Information On Supporting Pea Plants

When your vining type peas begin to show growth, it’s time to think about staking peas in the garden. Supporting pea plants directs the growth of the pea vine, keeps it off the ground and makes picking peas a little easier, as the pea plant support makes the pods more visible.

How to Stake Peas

How to stake peas will be determined by the variety of pea you plant and how tall it gets. Some peas climb to just 3 feet, while others reach over 6 feet. Knowing the height your peas will reach helps when it comes to deciding the best way to support pea plants.

Pea Plant Support Options

The cheapest and often the best way to support pea plants is by using materials you already have.

  • Stakes in the ground can be small limbs that have fallen from woodland trees, old PVC pipe or any sturdy wooden stake of 4 to 10 feet. Place stakes every few feet behind your peas and string a sturdy cotton twine along the middle and tops of the stakes. The twine is an adequate pea plant support. You may find some vines climbing the stakes.
  • Old farm fencing or chicken wire is another means of supporting pea plants. Locate the fencing close enough to growing peas that they can reach it easily.
  • Nylon mesh attached to stakes is another way of supporting pea plants.
  • A trellis-like wooden structure is a means of staking peas in the garden, but may be more permanent than other methods of supporting pea plants. As pea plants should be planted in a different area each year, you might want to use a more portable means of staking peas in the garden. If you desire a permanent trellis to beautify the vegetable garden, plant other vining crops in that area when rotating peas each year.
  • Metal rods can be used as a means of staking peas in the garden. A straight, fence-like structure can be erected for supporting pea plants.
  • A teepee shaped trellis is an attractive way of staking peas in the garden. Blooms of growing pea plants are sometimes attractive, so provide a complementary means of staking peas in the garden.

Grow peas so that they mature and come to harvest in cool weather.

Grow peas during the winter in mild-winter regions.

In cold-winter regions grow peas in the spring and sometimes in the fall.

The optimum seed starting soil temperature for peas is 75°F; this makes growing peas for fall harvest a strong option when they are planted 55 to 70 days before the first frost–depending upon variety.

Peas germinate more slowly in cold soil, in about nine days in 60°F soil, in about 36 days in 40°F soil. Use black plastic sheeting to warm the soil in cool regions. (Peas can survive temperatures down to 19°F.)

Pea types. There are three kinds of peas to grow: Chinese pea pods (also called snow peas), snap peas, and English peas (also called garden peas). Snow peas–with tender, succulent pods–and snap peas–with tender pods and juicy seeds–are eaten pod and all; English peas–with fat seeds for fresh eating or drying–are shelled. Peas with wrinkled seed covers are generally sweeter than smooth-seeded peas. Choose from bush (dwarf) or climbing varieties; climbers will produce a greater yield but require support.

Soil. Peas grow best in well-drained soil rich in nitrogen and aged compost. Turn the soil with a spade to a depth of 10 inches or more then work in the compost before sowing. Sow peas in raised beds in spring or where the soil is heavy or drains poorly. Add a low nitrogen fertilizer to the planting bed such as 5-10-10.

Site. Grow peas in full sun. Set rows north to south so that plants get plenty of sun throughout the day. Sow peas in double rows–twin furrows 6 inches apart with a trellis between the rows; space double rows 24 to 30 inches apart. Sow seed two to three inches apart. Each row of earth will be planted with a double row of peas.

Support Peas. Peas benefit from support, even dwarf varieties want a trellis to climb on. Place metal posts or stakes into the ground down the center of each double row; use stakes at least as high as the variety you are growing. Make sure the posts are securely anchored. Tie hardware cloth, chicken wire, or reinforcing wire to the stakes; be sure, the mesh is large enough to put your fist through at harvest time.

Planting Peas in Twin Furrows. Sow peas in twin furrows (narrow grooves in the ground), one furrow on each side of the trellis about 6 inches apart. Sow the seed in each row every 2 inches; stagger the seeds on each side of the trellis. Make the furrows 1 inch deep in sandy or cool soil and 2 inches deep in heavy or warm soil.

Planting Peas in Blocks. Bush or dwarf peas can be grown without support (but it will require some bending or knee harvesting later on). Sow bush peas in wide-row blocks; scatter the seed over the bed 1 inch apart and later thin plants to three inches apart. Don’t plant in wide rows so wide that you can’t reach the center at harvest. Wide-row or block-planted peas do not need staking or trellising. Some of the plants on the edge of the block may flop over, but generally block-planted peas will offer a very good yield. (Use knee pads, a patch of carpet for your knees, or a small stool to make harvesting easier.)

Inoculate the seed before planting peas. Peas and other legumes sown in planting beds that have not grown peas or beans in the last three years will grow better and be more productive if treated with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria Rhizobia before sowing. The Rhizobia bacteria form nodules on the roots of legumes; the nodules change nitrogen from the air into nitrogen that pea and bean roots can absorb and use. Treat or inoculate pea seed by rolling wet seed in inoculant powder available from seed companies. (One packet of inoculant is usually enough for a pound of seed.) Once seeds have been inoculated it is not necessary to add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil. The bacteria will live on in the soil for many years and new seed will not require inoculation.

Fall sowing peas in mild-winter regions. Peas sown in late summer for fall harvest will germinate more quickly than spring sown seed; the warmer soil temperature is optimal for pea seed germination. The old-fashioned pea variety Mammoth Melting will sprout in as little as three to six days sown in late summer. For varieties that are slower to germinate, soak seed in water for 24 hours before sowing to help loosen the seed coat and speed germination. Be sure to sow peas for fall harvest so that the crop is ready a week or two before the first expected fall frost. Young pea seedlings may need to be shaded on hot fall days. When the weather gets cool protect peas with floating row covers.

Birds and Peas. Birds are particularly attracted to young pea plants. Cover rows of pea seedlings with netting or chicken wire until the sprouts are up 5 inches.

Watering. Keep pea planting beds evenly moist; do not let peas go dry. When the first blossoms appear, give peas about an inch of water (almost a gallon) each week until the pods are filled.

Tie-in the vines. When vines are 12 to 15 inches high, tie in the row by looping twine between support poles to hold the new growth in and up. Tie-in vines as it grows up every 12 to 15 inches. This will keep wind and rain from whipping vines sideways.

Peas Harvest. Peas will be ready for harvest about three weeks after blossoms appear. Pick peas every day to encourage a greater harvest. Pick snap peas when the pods are plump and bright green; pick garden or English peas for shelling when they are plump as well. Pick snow peas while the pods are still nearly flat–the seed will be barely developed. Pinch pea pods away from the vine with your finger and thumbnail or use a scissors. Hold the upper stem with one hand and pinch the pod away with the other; to avoid injuring the plant avoid pulling pods away from the stem.

Fresh eating peas. Peas are the sweetest tasting right after picking; eat fresh peas within a day of picking. Snow peas can be eaten raw or added to stir-fried dishes. Snap peas can be eaten raw or cooked like snap beans. The seeds of English peas are shelled and cooked fresh or dried for later cooking. Just steamed bright green peas can be added to a salad or tossed in butter with new potatoes.

Peas for soups. Peas for soups or to use like dried beans are left on the vine until the pods turn brown; shell dried peasand let them dry for three weeks or dry them in an oven for three hours at 120°F. Cool the peas and store them in an airtight container. Later separate the two halves of the pea with a mortar and pestle to prepare split peas.

More pea growing tips at How to Grow Peas.

Leaning silkily over my computer screen is a vaseful of purple sweet peas. I think they are ‘Purple Prince’. Their colour is, in fact, a red so infatuated with blue that it loses itself within. It is a red that has crossed the divide. From above, the bunch looks like a floral brain. Below, the petals impossibly gleam. The folds of flower are fiercely frilly and yet in that fragility is something as hard and brittle as coral. It is a strange thing about sweet peas, that for all their soft prettiness they inspire fanaticism. There are men who devote the meaningful part of their lives to growing perfect sweet peas, with a rigour that has the characteristics of a Special Forces assault.

Not me, of course. We grow them enthusiastically but lazily and probably badly – although well enough to enjoy them, which is all we ask. Traditionally, sweet peas are sown in October. They spend the winter in a cold frame developing good roots and a hardy, bushy top growth. When planted out after the worst of the frosts – they are hardy to about -5 C – they are like athletes taking to the track after winter training. But our frosts, global warming and all, can happen well into May. So on the two years we sowed in autumn, the sweet peas sat in their pots for the best part of six months and grew potbound and lank, and I did not have the time nor inclination, let alone compost and pots, to pot them all on. This year we have grown 53 separate wigwams supporting sweet peas in various parts of the garden, each with eight plants. They are grown two to a 3in pot (I sow three and remove the weakest), so already we have more than 20 trays of pots filling the cold frames for months (see, the obsession is creeping in). Potting them on would mean 424 pots_

Simply by being late every season, I have discovered that what works best for me is to sow the seeds in a rich but well-drained potting compost in late February. They are ready to plant out by mid-May and will grow away strongly. It might mean we do not get flowers until midsummer, but what comes late stays late. We pinch out the growing tips when the plant is about 6in tall and still in pots, which makes for bushier growth.

As they grow they all have to be tied to the hazel rods. It is laborious, fiddly work, done with a mouthful of cut green twine and a good radio programme, and has to be done three or four times before they cling unaided. It is part of the summer ritual, like shelling peas or deadheading. Competitive growers pinch out all the side shoots or tendrils to focus the plants’ energy into small numbers of perfect blooms, but that is unnecessary for normal garden use. We want masses of flowers, albeit of mixed quality.

To keep plants flowering as long as possible, you have to keep picking them – they quickly go to seed as the weather warms up. We are pushing the edges of their season now, but we try and pick every single flower about once every eight to 10 days for a couple of months, filling buckets and baskets of them. A pint glass or Kilner jar is a perfect vase and the house becomes filled with them. I once came home from a filming trip and Sarah had put 10 vases filled with white sweet peas on the bedroom floor. First prize.

This year we have also grown most of our sweet peas in a long avenue, 32 wigwams, following on after the wallflower ‘Blood Red’. I dig a pit under each wigwam and fill it with mushroom compost and try to give the plants as much water as time will allow. It is never enough. They are monstrously greedy plants.

The sweet pea walk (obsession breeds pretension) has been only a partial success. The concept is great – a deliciously scented walk with height and colour. But – there is always a ‘but’ – the execution has not quite worked as it could.

For a start, although we chose the varieties for their scent as well as colour, not all the sweet peas are equally scented. So instead of wafting down a path swoony with sweet pea fragrance, you dip in and out of it, rather like losing a radio signal.

The biggest problem with our mixed bag of sweet peas is what is happening – or not happening – beneath them. Sweet peas are best growing up or through a support that masks its rather threadbare base. A really vigorous plant smothered in flowers can have a bottom measuring 2-3ft that looks as though it is about to wither away completely. In the Jewel garden and walled garden (where the sweet peas are all white) this is not a problem at all. They haul themselves up through all kinds of other plants. But in the walk, after the wallflowers were cleared, they went into completely bare ground. I underplanted them with squashes, hoping these would quickly provide a lower storey of interest. But because it was cold and miserable in June and early July, the squashes and pumpkins grew very slowly and about a third got eaten by slugs.

Experience tells me they will come good – but probably not until well into September, by which time the sweet peas will be gone. It highlights one of the great truths of gardening – it matters not so much what you do, or even how you do it, as when you do it.

Sweet pea suppliers: Peter Grayson, 34 Glenthorne Close, Brampton, Chesterfield S40 3AR. Unwins Seeds, Histon, Cambridge (01945 588 522)

Your Roots

Cut and shape yew hedges and topiary and get rid of rose suckers:

Now is the best time to cut hedges so that they stay crisp for best winter structure. If you do it before August, the regrowth can get too shaggy; too late and you risk tender new growth being damaged by an early frost. If you have an overgrown hedge or topiary, or a hole to be filled, remember that cutting back hard will promote vigorous bushy growth, but if you want to train or shape new growth, you must leave the leader until it has reached the final length before cutting it back.

Spring flowering plants, such as hellebores and primroses, are starting to come out of a relatively dormant period now, so it is a good time to plant and to clear and weed around existing ones.

Go round your roses and pull up suckers that will show as extra vigorous straight shoots.

Prune the growing shoots of wisteria back to 6in or three good leaves of their base.

Articles

Growing climbing beans and peas on a trellis is a great way to maximise your garden’s growing space, while providing habitat and shade that further helps your garden grow.

There’s all sorts of things you can use – what will suit you best depends on your garden’s context, and what you’re growing.

First of all, make sure you’ve planted climbing (sometimes called pole) beans, or climbing peas. The term bush/dwarf bean or pea means the plant doesn’t climb high but instead exists as (yep, you saw this coming) a low bush that doesn’t need a trellis.

So – once you’ve definitely got seeds or seedlings of climbers, you’re ready to go.

The different climbing techniques of beans and peas

This might seem completely obvious once you’ve been growing for a few seasons, but until you know, you don’t!

Beans and peas are fundamentally different in how they climb.

Peas send out little side tendrils that cling to trellises like tiny hands, and hold on that way – the central plant grows straight (ish) upwards, relying on it’s curly hands for support.

Therefore, pea trellises need to include thin wires/strings etc, so that the pea’s little tendrils have something to hang on to as they grow.

Beans, however, twine upwards with the whole plant, so they can handle chunkier trellises made of bamboo, wood etc. This is why they’re sometimes called pole beans – cause all they need is a pole, and up they’ll grow.

Thigmotropism

The name for the process by which both peas and beans do their inherent twirly hanging-on is called thigmotropism.

Its pretty darn wonderful. Here’s a sped-up video of beans doing their thing.

Which trellis?

Which trellis to use depends on your garden’s context – is it a permanent trellis that you’re wanting? Are you renting and may need to pull it down in 12 months time? What’s your budget? Is it windy where you are? All these factors and more come into play.

Places like your local tip shop are a great place to source scrap chicken wire or old screen doors, and your local reserve or railway siding may well have some bamboo just waiting for someone to love it and turn it into stakes.

And then, there’s also garden centres, of course, which have all sorts of options, but none of them as fun (or an low-impact) as finding something second hand or DIY.

Pea trellis ideas

  • Scrap chicken wire
  • Wide netting hung between poles or from the top of a fence
  • Jute string netting – make your own or get it from Digger’s club
  • Old mattress spring frames

Bean trellis ideas

  • You could make a bean banjo with poles and string
  • Bean tipi‘s are always a good idea, especially if you need an in-garden cubby house.
  • Bamboo poles, or trellis – here’s some designs
  • Tie foraged willow into a trellis (off the ground) – here’s some designs
  • Bamboo A-Frames with string – here’s a good example.
  • Use the ‘Three Sisters’ technique of growing corn, pole beans and cucurbits in the same bed – here’s a US example and an Aussie one too.

For any and all trellises that you decide to use, however, there’s one thing to remember – make it sturdy.

It’s hard to imagine when all you have in your hand is a small pile of seeds, or seedlings, but once your peas and/or beans are fully grown, they will be heavy.

So give them the support they need from the start to grow high and strong, against wind, bird visitors, and the hopeful weight of their pods.

At our place, we’re growing climbing beans in quantity (snow peas will go in later this season). We’re using them as a shade for our house along one wall, and growing them down the middle of a veggie bed as well.

Trellises in Garden beds

Running a trellis down the middle of a garden bed is a great idea – it helps maximise the vertical space in that garden bed, as other crops can be planted alongside and reap the benefits of having beans or peas, both soil building plants thanks to their nitrogen-fixing root nodules, growing right next door.

The other great thing about in-garden trellises is the shade factor. Once the strength of Summer hits, if your garden is sunny, there will be plants that may suffer under a full day of sun each day.

Depending on how you design your beds, a north-south trellis down the middle can enable dappled shade for part of the day to each side of that bed, and for its veggies too.

Another way to work the edges and use good design to ensure bountiful harvests.

Okay, then. Good luck with your trellis structures, and may your harvests be bountiful –

All our articles about backyard growing are here…

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Carolyn Ross/Demand Media

Sugar snap peas are similar in taste and appearance to snow peas, although sugar snap peas have puffier pods and a slightly thicker skin. Sugar snap peas can be added to salads and stir-fry for a crunchy kick, or they can be served on their own as a side dish. Sugar snap peas contain a pesky string that should be removed before eating, although there are two schools of thought as to whether the string should be removed before or after cooking.

Carolyn Ross/Demand Media

Determine whether you would like to string your sugar snap peas before or after cooking. According to John Peterson, author of “Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables,” keeping the string on keeps the flavor in while the sugar snap peas are cooking. The “Los Angeles Times,” on the other hand, recommends stringing the peas before cooking them.

Carolyn Ross/Demand Media

Break off the stem of the pea pod. The stem is a rough area that extends slightly out from the top of the pod. You will hear a snapping sound as the stem breaks.

Carolyn Ross/Demand Media

Gently pull the stem downward, pulling the strings with it. Each sugar snap pea pod should have two strings, one on either side of the pod.

Carolyn Ross/Demand Media

Use a paring knife to remove any stubborn strings that will not pull off. Make a small incision to cut off the tip of the sugar snap pea pod and then pull the tip downward to remove any additional strings.

Tip

Mix sugar snap peas with teriyaki sauce and heat them in a frying pan for a quick side dish.

Warning

Use a paring knife with caution. Keep all knives out of the reach of children.

Many people looking for information on how to stake up pole beans forget that pole beans naturally want to climb. If you provide them with support, they will climb. You just need to do your part and provide them with suitable support for their growing habit.

How to Stake Up Pole Beans

Pole beans produce long, tender green beans. Many people prefer the old-fashioned pole bean over bush varieties, claiming they are hardier, more disease resistant, and produce beans longer throughout the growing season. Pole beans do require support. They produce a vine, and need something to cling to as they grow. There are many supports you can make at home or purchase at the garden center for successful cultivation of pole beans. When planning your vegetable garden, take into account pole beans’ need for support and space, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully growing tasty green beans.

Stakes and Single Supports

Stakes are the traditional support for pole beans. They don’t need to be fancy. Purchase stakes or cut long strips of wood at six to eight foot lengths. Hammer them into the ground next to where you intend to plant the beans, then plant seeds at the foot of the stake. The beans will grow and wind up and around. If they need a bit of guidance, some garden twine or a bit of string can be used, but that’s essentially how to stake up pole beans. Just provide them with support and up and away they grow, like Jack and the Beanstalk.

Bean Tee Pee

Another method for staking pole beans is to create a tee pee. A tee pee is a support made from three or more stakes hammered into the ground at an angle so that all of the poles tilt inwards and meet near the top, forming a tee pee shape. Create the tee pee first, then plant several bean seeds at the foot of each stake used to create the tee pee. Most tee pees are made from bamboo stakes. They’re lightweight, economical, and very sturdy. You can reuse the tee pee from year to year.

Wire or String Trellis

A wire trellis can be made using two stakes and a length of chicken wire. Hammer both stakes into the ground the length of the row you intend to plant with beans. Using a heavy duty outdoor stapler, staple chicken wire to each stake, spreading it as taunt as you can. Plant bean seeds along the bottom of the wire mesh. The beans will grow up and into the trellis. Be sure that the mesh is securely fastened to the stakes, since the vines can be heavy and pull the mesh out of shape.

You can also make a simple trellis from stakes and string. Hammer four stakes into the ground and wind heavy twine around the stakes to form a cat’s craddle, moving up at least four to six feet on the stakes. Plant bean seeds under the lines made by the twine.

Tomato Cage

Tomato cages are wire cones or cylinders using heavy gauge, large-hole wires. You can purchase tomato cages ready-made at the garden center. To use them to grow pole beans, simply place the cages firmly in the ground with the spike “feet” planted as deeply as you can into the earth. Then plant the bean seeds around the base of the tomato cage. Since pole beans grow to be six to eight feet in length, they’ll outgrow the cages and the tops of the beans will hang off the side. This won’t hurt the beans one bit, but they will look kind of straggly. If all you care about is getting plenty of beans in the harvest and you have extra tomato cages, it’s an easy solution to staking pole beans.

Recycled Material as Bean Supports

Using recycled materials in the garden offers not only an economical approach but a clever and whimsical one, too. An old ladder, for instance, can be braced against the garage wall, with the ladder feet firmly embedded in the ground. Plant pole beans at the foot and let them vine their way right up the ladder. Old discarded broom and mop handles can be recycled into pole bean supports. Trellises, old pieces of lattice, and bits of wire can all be made into a variety of bean supports. Just keep the following in mind if using recycled materials to grow pole beans:

  • Pole beans are vines, so only grow them where you don’t mind them climbing up and over…they can be invasive, and heavy when they produce bean pods.
  • They grow up to eight feet in length, so make sure your supports are tall enough.
  • Always anchor the base of the support, either by hammering sticks into the ground or using some other method.
  • Plant beans after placing the support so as not to disrupt the root system.

Nothing says summer like a plate of freshly steamed green beans straight from the garden. After learning how to stake up pole beans, set up the supports and plant seeds soon for a fine harvest.

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