making a climbing bean tipi basket at PumpjackPiddlewick

Uh oh, serious Oops. I planted climbing beans amongst my dwarf beans in the veg garden by accident. I have been watching their little tendrils snake upwards in search of something to climb, pondering what to do. A little research and I decided on building a climbing bean teepee.

As climbing beans grow fast, the solution had to be quick. Down and dirty as it were, with what was to hand. Inspiration came in the form of hazelnut trees.

Weeds of France

Hazelnut trees are almost like weeds here in France. Or at least my area. They spring up everywhere, and as my restoration garden has not been taken to task for over 20 years a few of the saplings have run amok.

They poke their heads out of my fence in multiple places. One stump is unsuccessfully attempting to soak up the water from my metal pond. One had died by vine asphyxiation and has been cut down. The only one to actually provide hazelnuts, thus far, shades one corner of my walled garden.

Wrong Place, Right Time

I have also recently discovered two more. One is attempting to grow out of one of my stone walls, and has to go. The other is smack dab in the wrong place, where I wish to grow a black currant bush. (Next to my red and Champagne currant bushes.)

Therefore, when it came to needing branches for the climbing bean teepee, the unwanted hazelnut bush / tree was decided upon to provide. It’s going to be cut down anyway in the autumn. A little earlier wouldn’t matter, and it was for a good cause.

I’ll add in the hazelnut in the wall, as it had lots of suckers that were shading the strawberries too much and had to be pruned. (Suckers are little branches that grow from the base of a tree and suck the energy, hence why pruning them is good.) Between these two bush almost trees, varying sized branches were provided, especially thin bendy almost like string branches. Ping… idea!

Formulating a Plan

I had just run out of string, using it up on making bean tendril paths on the bean trellis. These bendy branches could be used like string, in a wattling format, to hold the climbing bean teepee together. Are you with me? I’ll try to explain.

Using larger and long branches a teepee, or cone like triangle, is formed by sticking the ends into the ground in a sort of circle around the offending climbing plant, or plants. I recommend using about 6 foot / 2 meters long branches.

The more bean plants you are encompassing, the thicker the branches should be. The branches are lent inwards so they meet at the top, eg a teepee or triangular shape.

Strengthened Idea

Now it needs strengthening so it doesn’t fall apart, or tip over, and can hold the weight of the beans as they climb and burst into life. This means winding something around the top, middle and near-ish to the bottom of the branches. You could use string, wire, or hazelnut prunings.

Having made wattling fences in various parts of our garden, the idea was to use the same principal for the climbing bean teepee. (Wattling is where you use upright stakes and weave thinner, bendier branches in between to make a wall.)

Green branches are the bendiest, and less likely to break. The thinner the better, too. Begin weaving the branch, from thicker end to thinner, around and through the branches at the top, where they come together.

Rocket Science

It doesn’t have to be tidy, or exact. It’s only about making it as solid as possible. Where there is a gap, make sure to weave through it. Where one branch weaves in front, weave another behind for strength.

Test it by pushing, carefully, on one of the branch poles. Does it feel fairly solid? Are the branch poles staying in place? If not, use more string/wire/prunings to weave through until it does.

Attention to Detail

Remember, this is just the first section. There are two more, so solidity is more in the top at this stage until you complete the other sections. Repeat the process a little above ½ way up. And again, about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom.

You can use slightly larger prunings as you travel down, if you are using branches, as the gaps get wider, so it is easier to wend the branches in and out.

Voila a Climbing Bean Teepee

Once done, you should have a very solid climbing bean teepee. It may look more rustic than pretty, but it will certainly do the job. And with you only spending time, rather than money. (And it is rather therapeutic winding throughout the branches.)

Oh, and if you don’t have hazelnut trees to hand, willow or any other bendy prunings will do.

PS. My Restoration Wish List

Particularly interested in my restoration work? Especially my restoration garden work? Check out my Garden Findings and Archeology Posts.

And if you like what you read and wish to join in and support Pumpjack & Piddlewick, do check out my Nourish page.

If you would like to have a, sort of, hand in my restoration I have set up a Wish List on Amazon of items I would like to buy to help me restore my old house and garden. Should you wish to help with any of these (anonymously or not), you can purchase and they will be sent direct to me.

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