Besides our family garden, we also plant a lot of row feet of vining and semi-vining crops in our seed production plots. Our challenge was to come up with low cost but durable options for trellising those crops with materials that could be reused again and again-- year after year! Wanted to share what works for us!
We use hog panel trellis in the garden for our peas. Sturdy and durable. But the downside to those are they are heavy and cumbersome-- you definitely need two people to move 'em! They require welding skills and they're not cheap!
In addition to low cost and durable, light-weight and easy to handle were other priorities for us. If these priorities match yours-- read on!
Problems yield solutions
We have a lot of experience working to fence deer out! Our seed production plots are on a three year rotation-- so that means we put up and take down deer fencing and move it with that rotation. As we worked with these materials it was easy to dream up other uses!
Sometimes we planted vining crops right on the perimeter fence. That quickly led to using those same trellis materials inside the plots. Not just a fence anymore!
The aggressive viners-- like Sugar Snap peas (pictured below), Scarlet Runner beans, Dakota Majestic hyacinth beans, Blue Lake pole beans, and Trionfo Violetto beans, clearly needed all the support of a 7 foot high fence. And they often top those, looping over the top!
Then there are the not so tall viners and even shorter semi-viners-- Homesteader peas (not as tall as Sugar Snaps), Hidatsa Red beans, Anna's Dutch Brown beans, and Nodak Pinto beans. We decided that cutting a 7 foot roll in half would serve the need! Here's the fencing we got: 7 Ft Tenax Deer Fence from Tractor Supply
We halved a brand new, tightly wrapped roll with a reciprocating saw. Now we have two rolls of 3-1/2 foot tall trellis.
We stake the row with 4 foot black step-in fence post. These posts have 8 molded clips that allow us to hook the fence right to the post. Here's the posts we use: 4 Ft Black Step-in Fence Post from Tractor Supply.
It's best to put up the trellis before your beans come up but we've done it after they are up as well. We place the posts right beside the row with the clips facing the bean row. This allows us to hang the fence right beside the beans for ease of climbing.
If you're trellising after your beans have come up, place your posts between the bean plants and face the clips to the outside of the row. The posts should be positioned so the fence will hang right next to the plants.
We also pay attention to the wind direction. We want the wind to blow the vines onto the fence-- not knock them off! What is the main wind direction and which side should you position the fence so the vines get blown toward the trellis the majority of the time?
When we plant east and west, we position the trellis on the north side of the row. The wind usually blows hardest from the south. And this year we have a lot of trees just north of the plot. So north winds aren't as much of a concern.
We often get both east and west winds. This year our plots are protected from east winds. So the rows that are planted north and south would be trellised on the east side of the row. That way any strong winds from the west would blow the vines onto the trellis.
We start by stepping in the posts paying attention to which way the clips face. We space the posts about 5 feet apart.
Next we roll out the fence right next to the row beside the clips. This makes it easy to grab and hang.
If you do not have 3 1/2 feet of space beside the row to roll out the fence on the ground, slip one of the fence posts inside the roll and unroll as you go. Use the fence post inside the roll to stake the roll in the ground to keep the it upright as you hang the unrolled portion of fencing on the posts.
Hanging the fence
We clip the top strand of fencing in the top clip on the post and then work our way down the post. Only clip the strands that are not going to 'bottom out' at the bottom the clip causing the fence to bunch up so it's held higher off the ground.
You want the strand to hang partway between the clip-- so it doesn't hang up! If the strand will bottom out-- just skip it and hang the next one.
After we finish hanging the fence, the final step is to tighten and secure the fence to prevent any flopping in the wind. We use a 4 ft steel electric fence post for this purpose!
We tip the steel post upside down with the anchor plate toward the top. Now we approximate the midpoint between the two black step in posts. There we weave the steel post straight down through the fence strands, starting about 6 inches from the top of the fence.
When we reach the bottom, we poke the post into the ground right next to the planted row. Then we push it in until the anchor plate comes down against the top strand of your weave, firmly anchoring the trellis in place.
If you skip this step, the fence can end up sweeping back and forth in the wind, literally cutting off your seedlings as they come up. We find this to be essential both to prevent damage to your seedlings and also to add strength to the trellis as the vines climb.
Here are the trellised seedlings coming up and ready to start the climb to the top!
Watch our companion video of the trellising process here on our YouTube channel. Oh, and if you'd 'like' the video with a thumbs up and subscribe to our YouTube channel, we'd appreciate your support!
We hope your garden outgrows all your trellises! 😅Our best to you,
Theresa & Dan
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