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Plant supports


by Jane Moore

Yes, it's bean planting time and everyone is a-bustle on the site building all the wigwams, tunnels and trestles ready to support the massive growth of French and runner beans.


Constructing a bamboo plant supportIt's that time of year again. The season when all sorts of odd structures and contraptions appear on the plots the length and breadth of Britain. My site is no exception. As you wander about the site, set in one of Bath's quieter and more villagey corners, the array of emerging artistic talent is worthy of a Turner Prize nomination. There are Heath Robinson-esque configurations of bamboo canes, bits of string and wire, variously coloured netting and the occasional bicycle wheel for good measure. I expect your site is just the same. Yes, it's bean planting time and everyone is a-bustle on the site building all the wigwams, tunnels and trestles ready to support the massive growth of French and runner beans.

Many people favour wigwams – I do as they seem to have a self-supporting sort of structural integrity that stands up to the winds. In my experience the problem with tunnels is that, although they look nice and orderly, they always keel over at some point in the season. There's always a weakness where the top crossing poles join up, for one thing, and the tunnel offers a broad resistance to the wind, whereas the wigwam has a smaller profile.

The best bean support I've ever seen was made from the grid of welded iron that is the reinforcing bit of reinforced concrete, fashioned into a tunnel with the help of some sturdy stakes. The owner of the plot was a builder needless to say. And the bicycle wheel? Ah that's my friend David's trick. He uses a bicycle wheel at the top to gather a larger than average wigwam of canes – and more canes means more plants and more beans. Looks a bit like a maypole too – very Tracey Emin...



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Gardeners' World Web User 30/05/2009 at 16:35

We favour tunnels of canes for our runner and french beans, with added guy ropes at each end, tied to strong wooden posts deeply embedded in the ground. As we garden on the side of a hill we get alot of wind, and so far hazel bean poles in tunnels have withstood the ferocious winds of the past few summers. Anyone found anything better than a compost heap to grow courgettes on?

Gardeners' World Web User 03/06/2009 at 04:55

I garden in Bulgaria, could not find canes in the shops near here,so used branches and string. My beans are right up to the top and covered in flowers. The variety is Endora. They were sown on the 11 April, planted out on 23 April. Looking forward to a nice crop if I can keep the sun off them. It may be 10 in London but its 29 in Mindya!

Gardeners' World Web User 04/06/2009 at 11:21

Well done commenter no. 1 for your very generous offer of free land. If only more people were so generous! Mary - I grew courgettes successfully last year in a large pot filled with bought compost - you just need to remember to feed and water and they grow well.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/07/2009 at 20:26

Hi all, could anyone tell me if it is too late to plant runner bean seeds? Been so busy this year I have not had time to get them done. Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/08/2009 at 17:50

Hi Mike, We live in Westbury and would love to speak to you about growing some veg in your garden if possible. Please email on jaimieshore@gmail.com Kind regards, Jaimie

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