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in Tools and techniques
I'm new to the forum and am hoping that I haven't missed an existing thread on this subject. I'll be really grateful for any useful tips.
A few years back on a Gardeners' World programme Monty demonstrated making metal plant supports by bending a rod using a dustbin former. I wish I'd noted more of the details, not least what metal rod he was using. I've been told at a local diy store that unless it was aluminium (and I'm sure it wasn't) heat would have been needed!
Does anyone recall this programme and maybe given the plant supports a go? I'd love to hear how successful you were - and of course what material you used as well as any tips you could give. I have many herbaceous bedswhich I love, but purchasing ready-made supports is expensive.
He used reinforcing bar available from builders merchants and possibly somewhere like B&Q. I remember thinking that it would take some strength to bend it but it does come in a variety of diameters so maybe the smaller ones would bend. Have you checked out the BBC GW website as they may have a video clip in their 'How to' section.
They were made from metal bars that you buy at builders' merchants. They use them for reinforcing concrete. They're made from iron as they rust if left out but not so much they can't be left out for years..
I have used this system since Monty showed them. The thinner ones bend easily enough. I used a railway sleeper post to bend mine in the middle to get the curve that goes round the plants then set it on the ground, put another piece of railway sleeper across it and stood on it to pull up the two ends to vertical.
Then it's just a case of pushing the two ends into the soil either side of the plants to be supported and letting them fall into the curve. They can stay out all year, don't bend or break in strong winds and disappear from view as the foliage and plant growth increases over the season.
Thanks so much to all of you for your advice. It's a relief to know that others had seen the same programme as I had begun to think I had dreamt it!
I'll certainly follow up all suggestions from builder's merchants to GW 'How To' section to farmers' suppliers. All sound very promising.
I know the programme and made some for my wife afterwards (the clip's not working as I write this). It's not actually reinforcing bar you need however as that usually has a serrated profile. You just need round steel bar in 5-6mm diameter (depending on the size of support you want).
Try a search for e.g. "steel round bar " or "bright steel round bar " etc.). Here's the place where I got mine to give you an idea of what kind of company they are:- http://www.pyramidsteel.co.uk/index.php?webpage=Bright_Steel.html
These are trade businesses but were happy enough to cut some to length for me and supply.
I have a feeling it came in long lengths and I needed to have them cut down to size. On their site now it says 3m lengths which sounds shorter than I remember. I want to make some more now and will buy longer lengths than before. By the time the curve is included, you need them longer than you think. I have a feeling I bought 2m lengths, but I would probably go for 3m now. That would make something to support quite tall and large groups of plants.
You can work out what length you need like this. Take 2 x the height of the support (including how much you want to go into the soil). Then measure the diameter of the dustbin or whatever you will be using to form the curve of the support.
The length of bar you need for each support is (2 x height)+(diameter x 1.57). So for example if the height of upright you want is 80cm and the diameter is 90cm, the length of bar would be (2 x 80)+(90 x 1.57) = 301 cm or ~3m.
This assumes that you bend the curve to form a semi-circle, but the process is a bit less precise than this and you may bend less of an arc.
I'd reckon on 2m length for a smaller support bent around say a large plant pot and 3m for a large support. We had a handy terracotta urn water feature which was perfect for bending the curves (stays put more easily than a bin or whatever).
That's really helpful - thanks
Yeah, I remember the program, I've probably still got it sky+'d but I'm sure you're question's been answered by stuartb3502. I've got some I bought years ago and I otherwise use prunings from shrubs and birch.
Such a useful thread. I will definitely be giving this a go. They do seem disproportionately expensive to buy.
They work a treat and are barely visible.
just found this link for Monty's plant stakes - it seems to work, good luck.
Could you use wire coat-hangers for small/lightweight versions of these?
I bought 6mm mild steel rods from The Metal Store. www.themetalstore.co.uk
They will cut the rods to your desired lengths.
I bought some that fit into each other Steve - they're about wire coat-hanger weight and tbh........ I've also made some out of fencing wire (about the same weight) which weren't much better The weight of the plants (I tried it on wallflowers) tends to push against them and they waggle in the ground and eventually give up
Wilko had some, and linkstakes as well. Very solid. When I went back for more, they had sold out. Next year I will get more early on in the season.
Mmm...... p'rhaps I'm trying them on too heavy plants fidget.... wasn't really keen on the straight lines ............ pm me your address and I'll post the ones I've got to you
I use the 5 or 6 mm wire rods from the builders' supply store and cut them myself with wire cutters then bend by hand - see above post. The only requirement is to have damp soil to push the supports at east 1'/30cms into the soil and then they don't budge or bend in storms.
Thanks for the link Kathy, it does work. I'll take a look at this as I was going to buy some this week but they were so expensive. I'll get Hubby to ben them instead of going to the gymn.