Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Teepee is Ready to Go!

The teepee is up! I know you were not aware of my Native American roots, but that’s only because I have none. The teepee is for my beans. It’s always the most impressive feature in my garden, causing people to ooo and awe over my gardening prowess. But really, it’s no big deal. You can build one, too.

The teepee costs nothing and can be assembled in a half hour or less, depending on your available resources. All you need is a few sticks – three long, three medium – and a bunch of twine. Baling twine, which is littered in most every nook and crevice of my barn, works best. After this winter, sticks are everywhere. If you haven’t got a pile in the back of your yard, stop by a park, woods, etc., and grab a few off the ground. I promise no one will mind. If you’re local and need sticks – c’mon over. We picked up fifteen pick-up truck loads of fallen branches after this winter’s ice storm. (You can grab some free baling twine while you’re here.)
Once you have your sticks and twine assembled, choose a relatively level spot that gets plenty of sun.
The spot I chose wasn't the nicest in terms of soil, so I added some compost to make life better for the beans. I reality, beans are not so fussy, they'll grow just about anywhere with enough light, water, and support. I spoil my beans.

Stand the three longer sticks up together to form the outline of your teepee. I lucked out this year and found one stick with a perfect forked end, which made this task easier. 
Tie the top together with twine. There’s no method for this, just loop the twine around and around and tie it off. You can make it look neat and tidy if you like, but once the beans are up, you won’t be able to see it anyway.

Next add your side bars. You need to add them low – about a foot or so off the ground, so the beans can grab on to them.  Secure them with twine. Each year, I consider adding a second tier of sticks a bit further up, but I never follow through and my teepee always works. If your teepee is extra tall, you might consider a second level of side sticks for the beans to travel up, but it’s not necessary.

Now it’s time to plant the beans! Plant your bean seeds under each side bar and in a circle around the base of each teepee leg. Choose a runner, rather than a bush type. My favorite runner beans are rattlesnake beans. They are twisted and mottled with purple and don’t really look like rattlesnakes, but it’s still a cool name. What I like best about them is the taste – sweet like a snap pea. They are best picked young and lightly sautéed. Yummo. 
Bean teepees not only look cool, they save space in your garden. This is the year to build your own!

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