Easy Beans: Tipi Style

Growing beans on tipis will maximize growing space and extend your growing season.
by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
February/March 2001
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Growing beans on tipis is a great way to maximize your growing space. While beans, peas, gourds or other vinous plants grow up along the tipi poles, you can plant semi-hardy crops, such as lettuce, in the space underneath. The shade from the vines keeps the undercrop cool, which can extend its season by as much as three weeks, depending on your USDA zone.

You can make the poles from any material you like — bamboo to fiberglass. I prefer to make my own from scrap lumber, ripping it into 3/4" squares the length of the wood. The poles should be at least 7' long, but this will vary depending on the height requirements of your plants. Between 8' to 10' are the best all around sizes.

For each tipi you'll need six stakes and about two yards of twine.

1. Mark three of the stakes 18" to 20" from the top. 

2. Lay them out on the ground, with the two outside stakes on the left and the middle one on the right. Line up the marks. 

3. Tie the twine to one of the outside stakes and weave it over and under all the stakes at least twice. Now, draw the woven line tight after wrapping the twine around the woven cord between each set of stakes. Do this at least twice and pull tight. 

4 Tie off the twine. 

5. Stand the unit up and spread the legs evenly the width of your bed (normally 30" to 36"). 

6. Fit the remaining poles around the standing unit. 

7. Wrap the balance of the twine around all six stakes where they cross, pulling as tightly as you can, and tie off on one of the original stakes.

You can top-join a row of tipis by laying a stake across them. If you go this route, leave enough twine to tie the top stake to the standing unit.

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