Organic Gardening the Easy Way, Part 1: Bean Arches


This flower arch is made from recycled fencing and pvc pipe.
We upcycled pvc pipe and old yard fencing for this striking homemade flower arch, a focal point in the garden. Doesn't hurt that pollinators find it inviting, too. Photo by Ron Wynn.

Gardening is fulfilling work, especially when you garden organically. It’s good exercise, it guarantees a good strong dose of vitamin D, it provides green goodness all season long—and maybe even all year. But every gardener knows gardening is also hard work. Who wouldn’t want to make it easier?

I’m all about making things easy, and over the years I’ve learned a few diy and other tricks to make gardening not only easier, but neater and more visually appealing in the process. This article is the first in a series of easy gardening tips I've picked up by trial and error.

Today’s tip happens to be my personal favorite. Grow up! As in vertical. My preferred vegetable for this purpose is beans. My husband and I tried growing bush beans one year. We thought that would be the easy way—no wasting time building tepees or other structures. Well, anyone who’s ever spent a day hunched over picking beans knows it can be backbreaking work. It only took one year for us to decide we’d grow only pole beans from then on. At the time, we had no idea what a good decision we'd made.

Build an Arch to Last

Our first attempt at keeping bean plants upright was to wind twine around them, attaching the twine to poles at each end of the rows. Pretty ineffective. The twine was no match for the tall, heavy-laden plants. Then we discovered the idea of arches. Again, with our penchant for making gardening easier, we wanted ours to be sturdy enough to hold their own for years. (Bonus tip: make things to last, even if it takes a little longer the first time. It’s worth it to not have to keep repairing and replacing.)

We opted for cattle panels, that robust fencing that comes in a 16 foot x 50 inch size with the wires spaced perfectly for sticking hands through to pick on the other side of the panel. (Don't be discouraged if you don't have a super big trailer. The panels were much longer than our small utility trailer, so we arched them right then and there. With a few tie-downs, they traveled just fine.) Cattle panels can be found at any farmers’ supply center.

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