After three seasons of growing legumes, I can say that every time we have planted them I have been the recipient of disappointing glares throughout the growing/harvest season when the plant quickly reached the top of my homemade trellis and the vines began their inevitable gravity fueled trip downwards. This season, I have vowed, will be different. I will walk triumphantly amongst these fine plants as they ascend towards the heavens.
In this entry I will describe a simple homemade trellis that is both aesthetically pleasing, functional and hopefully durable. Oh yeah, and will cost less than purchasing a pre-made trellis. Oh yeah, and again, will be produced locally, by HMG’s favorite laborer, me!
A homemade trellis can be made fairly easily with the following tools: circular saw, screwdriver, drill, corner brackets, mending plates and screws. First step is to decide how big you want your trellis to be. And yes. I could not avoid saying it. When it comes to trellises, size does matter. If you build a small trellis, it does not matter how you dress it up....you will lose all your pea plants to a larger, more confident trellis.
Next step is the wood. Obviously I would not recommend using any treated wood as the final product is going into your pie hole and you would not want to put anything that baked in the sun against treated wood into your mouth. That being said, cedar is a great choice as it provides natural rot and insect resistance and should last for years. I went to Beckerle’s in Congers and purchased 10 foot 2 x 4 pieces which they were kind enough to rip (cut the wood with grain-a harder cut unless you have a table saw and a large room where it is located). So I was left with 2 x 2 pieces in 10 foot lengths. The pieces are laid out in an H configuration (with the top having a piece across, so yeah not really an H but how else can I describe it....maybe a square with legs) and screwed together with 3 inch outdoor decking screws into pre-drilled holes. (to avoid splitting the wood). Next another H configured piece is put together. The two pieces are then laid on top of each other and outdoor, rust resistant hinges are used to join the two pieces, or you can just have a one sided trellis which you can affix to a pre-existing fence or wall. After that step, for extra support, outdoor rust resistant corner braces can be placed over every corner where two pieces of wood meet and screwed in to provide extra support.
Ok, so now you have a 2 giant pieces....I left out the size because it will depend on how high you want to go..I chose 8 feet high and 6 feet wide. I was going to do 8 feet wide but in a moment of clarity I realized just as I was going to screw the pieces together that it would of been myself who was screwed when I constructed a trellis in the basement that would not fit out the door. Embarrassment avoided. Next step is your actual trellising material. I use 2 x 4 inch holed outdoor welded fencing wire which comes in many different sizes. Next I lay the wire out over the trellis. Cut with wire snips. Fix to trellis with mending plates and also under the corner braces (so don't put them on till youhave your welded wire cut and laid out over the frame).....and voila....a trellis fit for the neediest of peas.
Thats it for now. I just realized that we need two more trellises.