Five little peas in a pea pod press,
One grew, two grew, and so did all the rest.
They grew and grew and they did not stop.
Until one day, the pod went pop!
We’ve had a little problem with our veg bed netting of late. It’s not that the birds have been getting in, or the cat recommencing its bathroom visits, the veggies that survived their combined attentions have been growing big and strong under their protective green haze. No the problem isn’t stopping things from getting in, so much as the fact that things are starting to get out.
And by things, I mean runner beans. When my aunt and I planted them they were just little sproglets of plants, bravely surviving my ministrations or lack thereof when I went on holiday for a week and reaching up nice and tall, and finding …the top of the netting. Carefully, oh so carefully, they bent their heads through the holes and popped out into the sunshine. And they’ve been growing lazily along the top of the netting for the last week or so. It’s amazing how fast a runner bean can sprint in a week. (If you want to know how to make the basic posts, the how-to guide is here)
But as I have no intention of turning them over to the birds after my benign neglect got them this far, it was high time I did something about the netting. Starting with several minutes spent very gently untangling bean shoots from in, on, over and among that net. And then, I had a plan, and a trip to Homebase, and some gardening gear.
With the net off I set about tying up the ramble of beans using a wigwam cane grip. It’s designed to hold seven canes but I could only really find space for six at the base, and I’ve got nine bean plants (I think), so I made a very rectangular looking wigwam out of canes and started winding beans up them, with a little bit of help in the form of some green garden wire (it’s like those freezer bag tags you used to get before they made them all ziplock). The wigwam grip makes it very sturdy and means I can have the canes quite close together without risking the whole thing falling over into the strawberries.
But even with that stability I didn’t want the wigwam to be the top tension point in the netting, at least not this year, maybe another time I’ll make a huge one and use it as a support. So instead I went back to the tried and tested hoop method, only bigger.
They don’t make plant stakes in the length I needed, which is where those nice green growsticks come in. They feel as if they’re metal coated in plastic (they sound that way when you bang them on the patio) and they’re much sturdier than plant canes or my little green stakes. They’re also wider. Which is important when it comes to sliding the hose on to one end. It’s a tight fit, a really tight fit, and it’s easiest to do if you have an handy extra person around to hold the hose up so that you’re not trying to slide it on around a corner. I’d also suggest not fitting the hose when the stakes are in the spot where you intend to put them or you may find you wiggle your soil out of all stability.
I got about two thirds of the way down before I decided that enough is enough, there was no way the two were ever ever going to be separated again, and we were done.
Initially I’d thought that I’d have one tall hoop at one end and keep the other three as they were, but the more I thought about it, the more unstable that seemed. With two high poles I would have needed some kind of cross bracing with more canes to keep them upright and protect them from gusts of wind or overly ambitious cats. So instead I have two high posts on the wigwam side of the bed and the original low ones on the other side. The hose length is roughly nine feet but as before I eyeballed it and the cut it down a bit to make sure that it was snug and taught.
And then came the netting – though not before Pip delightedly crawled into the mud and started to check out the strawberries.
I bought another pack of precut netting, 2m x 8m. It’s too narrow to just go over the top of the hoops and expect to meet the ground on both sides so we’ve wrapped it.
Taking the short end of the netting we pinned that along the long edge of the veg bed, matching the corner nearest the wigwam. Then we pinned the long end of the netting along the short edge of the veg bad before pulling it around the corner to finish part way down the other long side.
To finish off we kept that down edge of the netting running along the ground outside the bed and simply wrapped around to the beginning. Imagine you’re putting a wrap skirt on the wigwam and you’ll have the right idea. It fits perfectly and I used a little more green wire to work some rather natty running stitch to hold the overlap in place.
And there you have it.
How to build a wigwam for your beans, and more importantly, how to make sure that you get to eat the beans and not the birds.
With thanks to Homebase for providing the materials and sponsoring this post. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page