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Bamboo & Beans

June 12, 2010

Or how to grow vertically

A friend owns a piece of property a couple blocks from here that has a stand of a fairly a large bamboo variety. One day I decided the stout bamboo would com in handy and received the owner’s permission to cut “as much as you want, please take it all”.

Once cut and trimmed accordingly, my first project was a bean trellis in a part of the yard that doesn’t get direct sun until almost noon. All of my other beds are aligned north/south or east/west in order to consistently plant the beds conscious of plant height and potential shadowing. After sending several months observing the sun’s track the sun and resulting shadows, I decided that the two “bean beds” should not be aligned with or perpendicular to the rest of the beds. Catty-wampous or womp-jawed or just “out of alignment” would work best according to my best aspergian visual calculations.

This would work only if my trellis was similarly out of alignment vertically; in June this wouldn’t matter as much as the sun is high. Later in the season, shading would be an issue since the sun doesn’t hit the beans until midday. To compensate for a lower sun and morning shade, I needed to tilt half of the 4 trellis panels somewhat to the north to allow for more afternoon sun to hit the other two.

I learned as I went and next time will lash the bamboo together differently – the trellis seems sturdy enough now but it took baling wire to get it that way.

The two beds are 2’x8’; I cut some 2” conduit pipe into short sections that could act as base sleeves for the bamboo. The “uprights” inserted into these were connected to “crossbars” that the trellis netting would be tied to. Basically picture two “W”s with the bases in the two beds, then connected at the tops and bottoms by cross sections of bamboo. Note the asymmetrical Ws:

Once netting was up (yes if you look closely you will see that I measured incorrectly and ran out of netting. DOH!) I came back and shored up the joints a bit with the baling wire and was ready to go.

A few weeks later, a shot of the back part of the yard from a ladder I was putting up (after much encouragement from Mrs C.)

I planted “Christmas” and “King of the Garden” limas; the Henderson bush limas were a hit past year and have returned this year. I added the runners for two reasons
1- Small footprint in the garden vs the harvest potential due to the vertical growth.
2- Continuous yield vs the flush harvest of the bush beans (“continuous” probably isn’t the best description, maybe “extended” is better?).

So how do they look today?

They have overrun the trellis:

In fact, so much so I extended the ends a bit with more twine and bamboo:

So far, so good. I’ll provide an update later in the season should this “bamboo and bean sail” survive the thunderstorms that is in its future.

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