We had a beautiful warm day today – prefect for working outside!
Our peas are among the things that require the most preparation before we can direct sow them, so we decided to focus on building trellises for them. After looking over some design ideas, drawing some sketches and making some decisions, I headed out with my baby chain saw and rifled through the pile of poplar poles we kept after doing some clean up and testing out the cordless pruner.
That baby chainsaw made cutting poles to size very fast!
In the background are the support poles, cut to 6 ft lengths. The poles on the wagon are the cross pieces. I am short a few to be able to complete all the beds, but I ran out of medium sized poles. We are saving the bigger ones for the squash trellises, as they will have the most weight on them. The smaller ones will be good as stakes, but are too thin to be cross pieces.
I’ll just have to do more clean up and gather more poles! 🙂
Our purple peas have the fewest seeds, so it got the simpler trellis design.
I started by laying out the support poles near where they will be set. Each bed will have 5 support poles, with the biggest ones on the ends, and the middles.
That rain barrel in the background is the one I patched up last year, to keep water at ambient temperature near our squash beds. We will need to fill it with water soon, so it doesn’t blow away! It’s going to take all our hoses put together, to reach that far.
After finding the centre of the first bed, I started digging a post hole – and immediately started hitting roots and rocks!!
I did drag over one of the post hole diggers we found, to try it out.
I’m pretty sure it has pieces missing. 😀
It can handle smaller pebbles, but roots and larger rocks were a problem. For some of the rocks, I had to get in there and bring them out by hand, because not even the spade could get them out. We only have one spade, and I don’t want to break it! We did have a second spade. The handle broke while I was digging holes for the haskaps.
First pole is in!
The pile of rocks was later added to the top of the soil around the post. The soil that was put back into the hole and tamped down was a lot softer, and sank down quite a bit.
Shortly after that, my younger daughter was able to join me, and the rest of the poles went in much faster. 🙂
Attaching the cross pieces was a bit of an issue. What I really would have liked to do was screw them together. There’s no way to do that manually, since we’d end up pushing the poles around in their holes. We don’t have enough extension cords to reach this area to use a corded drill and drill pilot holes. Our cordless drill is old and the batteries no longer hold a charge – and it’s old enough that the brand no longer uses the same batteries and does not make them anymore. Once we work out a solution, we’ll go back and put in screws.
Before adding the cross pieces, we measured and marked heights at the top and bottom of each support pole, then cut flattened spots on the ends of the cross pieces and at the marked areas of the support poles. When cleaning up the basements, we found a ball of old bale twine, so we used that to tie the crosspieces in place. That twine is really old, so while it’s holding surprisingly well right now, I expect it to disintegrate fairly quickly.
Once that was done, I used the twine to weave on strings for the peas to climb.
Which took quite a long time! The ball of twine was lots of shorter pieces. I kept stopping to tie ends together and make centre pull balls, to make wrapping around the cross pieces easier. I ended up using most of the ball, so we’ll have to find something else to use for the other trellises.
This bed is now ready to layer straw and soil down. We might even be able to find something usable in the old compost pile to add to the layers. We don’t have a lot of material that can be used to build over that grass, but anything is better than what’s already here! And we can deal with weeds.
It seems a bit much, to do all this burying of posts for a temporary garden, but wind is something we have to take into consideration. Hopefully, we were able to get the support poles deep enough that they won’t be blown over.
The other two beds will have double rows of peas planted in them, so the trellises we build there will not have the cross pieces at the bottom. Instead, we will put cross pieces about a foot away from the centre poles, at about the same height as these ones. Once these trellises are strung, they will form a sort of A frame, with each row having it’s own side of strings to climb.
When I was a kid, my mother always grew peas, but never used trellises. One of my jobs as a child was to flip the rows of peas, so that the sun could reach the other side of the plants. I do remember a lot of yellowed or rotted leaves when flipping my mother’s un-trellised peas. This would have been due to lack of sunlight in the bunched up plants, and contact with the soil. There was likely fungal issues, too, but as a child, I wouldn’t have recognized it for what it was. It worked, and we always had lots of peas, but this will be healthier for the plants, and should result in better yields.
While I was working out here, I was able to hear people out and about, walking on the road, etc. The old house across the road from us has no one living there, but the current owners come out regularly. It was so wonderful to hear the voices of children, playing outside! At one point, I was even visited by a very friendly little dog. The only down side was having our vandal come driving by on his ATV, very studiously avoiding looking our way and pretending to be doing something else other than creeping on me. As if his driving over, turning around and going home again wasn’t making it really, really obvious.
We definitely need privacy screens! The corn and sunflowers will help, once they’re tall enough, but when we clear the fence line so we can repair the fence, we’ll be removing what little screening we have in that area right now.
For now, I’m rather pleased with our “rustic” pea trellis. Not too bad for something made of completely salvaged materials!