How To Build a Better Trellis

| 1/16/2009 10:22:11 AM

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In my garden, I use a sort of variant of Square Foot Gardening. It works well because of the fact that I only grow on approximately 400-500 square feet. My biggest difference is that I generally like to keep things relatively informal. Part of my logic behind this is that I like to "leave my options open" so to speak. I've found that in the garden, as with many other parts of life, if you follow too many rules (or perhaps guidelines is the better word) by doing it the way that the "experts" tell you to do it, you run the risk of missing the opportunities and flashes that are possible through experimentation.

One such "flash" came to me early last year and I went with it. The result, I think, is one of the best from any of my gardening technique trials that I've had and I thought that with a lot of people just starting to try and figure out what their gardens will look like this summer it was a perfect time to share it. What it is, is a trellising system that allows me to use my 4-foot-by-6-foot raised beds in many different configurations depending on the crop that I wish to grow there that particular year. In doing so, it also frees me from the chore of having to rebuild or move trellising apparatus every year, or worse yet every season, because it can be quickly tweaked to serve my needs. I've built one over each of my 4-by-6 beds and can either set it up as needed, or ignore it altogether and use the beds as though there were nothing there at all.

I put together a couple of renderings of the basic structure to give you an idea of how it's built. The ones I have in my garden were made largely from recycled 2-by-4s that I ripped in half to make 2-by-2s, although I did have to purchase a few. I joined them very basically with long grabber screws (course threaded.) and some corner triangles for strength.

Straight Configuration Trellis

Basically, it’s just a cube that’s been built on top of an existing 4-by-6 raised bed. The image above is of the system in a straight configuration. Across the bottom of the raised bed, I ran a piece of 1-by-2 scrap wood that I could tie twine off to and then ran that up to a third top piece that I added. You could actually run the string out to the edge pieces to support the top of the plants when they reached above the top of it as well. My beds are 6 feet deep, so I would run one string in the middle of each square foot to support, for instance, a tomato plant.

V-configuration Trellis

nick ladieu
3/22/2013 8:17:49 PM

NIce! Gonna use it!

justin lau
3/22/2013 4:56:47 PM

Come on dude. The Flying V. Mighty Ducks

robyn dolan
1/17/2009 9:26:26 AM

Great idea Paul. This will fit right in to my greenhouse/shadehouse project, and offers a solution to how to grow as much as possible in a small space. Even though I have ten acres and a large, fenced garden, the intense summer sun and scorching winds are a death sentence to most of my veggies. Not to mention the critters that like to nibble my tender greens.

paul gardener
1/16/2009 1:19:49 PM

Thanks Hank. You know I don't see any reason why this couldn't be built as a stand alone unit with just the basic framing at the bottom, and then staked into the ground with maybe some 2' sections of rebar or something. That way you could use it as a portable trellissing system to be put wherever in the garden you wanted (similar to your cold frame set up) depending on crop rotation needs and such. I think that's how I'd go about it if I had your land. I just use the raised beds more from necessity than anything else. Looking forward to seeing what your able to do with it. Judging by the Chicken coop and the pig house you made from scrap I have no doubt it will be great! P~

hank will_2
1/16/2009 12:43:45 PM

This is a very cool concept, Paul. You have in spired me to try something similar for our garden this year. I have tons of scrap lumber in the barn ... and Kate ordered way to many pole bean seeds already this year. Right now, we don't have raised beds ... but that might change over time. Hank

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