Building a Long Lasting Trellis for Peas, Beans and More
Support your local pea crop:
Peas, whether of the sweet, snap, snow or main crop vining variety are one of the home vegetable garden’s premier treats, ripening just in time for the 4th of July and when a second crop is planted, for the Thanksgiving table. Sweet and tender, the good news for the home gardener is that peas are relatively easy to grow. The caveat is, only if they are given support.
Pea vines left to sprawl on the ground are a waste of the gardener’s time and garden space. For one thing, the plants will not have access to all of the available sunlight on which they thrive. Lying on the damp soil disease will weaken them, insects will finish them off and there will be no sweet peas on the table.
It can be assumed that most gardeners, who are at heart ingenious folks, have little difficulty arranging some kind of rudimentary support for the pea crop. This could include planting a row of peas by the fence with the fence doing trellising duty, thrusting branches into the ground or even planting peas a bit later than usual, and among the early corn. But a trellis that could be used year in and year out, that adjusts to both dwarf and full vining pea plants and which can be used for other plants once the pea crop is exhausted is many times more useful than any of those quick fixes, and well worth the nominal cost of construction.
This is what is needed:
- Four 1 x 4” boards, 8’ in length
- Eighteen 1 1/4” wood screws
- An electric drill with a screw driver bit appropriate for the screws being used
- Wood glue
- A small box of 3/4” poultry staples
- A hand or skill saw
- A hammer
- A roll of poultry wire or of vinyl coated wire mesh fencing either 24 or 46” wide
- Wire cutters
- Outdoor paint, with brush or roller
Cut one of the 8’ boards into two 4’ lengths. Without fastening together, lay out two of the 8’ boards and the two 4’ pieces so that they form a 4 x 8’ rectangle, check that each corner is square.
Again without fastening anything lay the remaining 8’ board diagonally across the rectangle, using as much of the board as possible. Mark the corners of the board that project beyond the rectangle and cut these so the angled cut is flush with the outside of the rectangle.
Give every surface of each board a coat of paint, allow these to dry thoroughly.
Assemble the boards just as they were laid out, a rectangle with a diagonal cross brace. Use a squeeze of wood glue and three wood screws for each joint. Apply another coat of paint and then put the project aside until the paint has dried and the glue has set.
Next, cut two lengths just an inch or two under 8’ long from the 2’ wide roll of fencing or one similar length from the 4’ wide roll, whichever is available.
Attach these to the 4’ x 8’ frame using the poultry staples, spaced every 4 – 6 inches or so.
Using the trellis:
The trellis is now ready to support the pea crop. Obtain two 4’ long stakes; these can be old pipes, sapling poles or two by twos. Orient the trellis properly for the type of pea planted, 4’ tall for dwarf varieties, 8’ tall for full vining types. Drive the stakes 18” into the soil behind the trellis uprights.
Secure the trellis to the stakes with strong cord or wire. If wire, remember to turn the sharp ends towards the trellis, where they cannot injure people or pets.
Use and re-use:
Note the benefits of this particular garden accessory. It can be oriented for tall or short plants, moved as required, and used for any and all climbing vegetables as well as peas; cucumbers, squash, beans; even gourds will thrive on this device.
If the trellis is placed under cover after the growing season it will last for many, many years, earning back the cost of materials several times over while keeping that valued pea crop high, dry, and up in the sunlight and fresh air.