Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Great Bean House Adventure

So I was reading a gardening book- big surprise and I came across a project to build a structure for beans made from PVC pipes and fittings. With the materials so inexpensive and since I was unhappy with using bamboo last year I figured I'd make a go of it.

You will learn dear reader that when I undertake any sort of crafty project/new idea I will take it to the next level. I mean ridiculous. The first version of my bean house was about 8 feet tall. No lie. They sell PVC pipe in 10 feet sections. Why would I try to make too many cuts or bother measuring? Let's get real here. I'm gardening for fun (and food) so let's not make this too difficult. Keeping it simple is my favorite thing to do.

When I finally decided that standing on a ladder to harvest pole beans in mid summer was probably not the smartest or best case scenario I opted to shave two feet from the height of the structure and keep the same width. With help from my friend the architect who gave me advice on how to be sure the structure will not fall down and will stay anchored I finally have a finished product.

Now you're probably wondering what's going on underneath. Since I kept the same width for the house I realized all of the potential waste of space the middle would be. I planted my lettuce, mesculin mix, and spinach inside the house. This may not work out but I'm hoping that when the pole beans cover the house that they will shade the spinach and lettuce just enough to keep them from bolting and burning in the hot sun of the summer time.  I do know that by the time the beans start shooting up the sides of the house that the first lettuce and spinach of the season will already be in my belly.  I planted snow peas on both sides of the house and hopefully I'll be able to train them to climb up the strings I've placed.

I still have to place more twine all along the house like you see on the end there. I ran out. This year I hope to can a LOT of beans. I'll be growing Christmas Pole Lima Beans and Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans.

So the project ended up costing around $40. Not counting twine. I spent this much but I did not use ALL the PVC since I cut it down by a few feet. 
Tools needed:
1- small Hack Saw
Two hands
1- Can-do Attitude
Parts list:
10 - 10 feet lengths of 1inch PVC pipe (I bought extra in case I goofed on cutting anything)
2- 3 way connectors (on top to hold the roof pole in place)
4- 45 degree angle connectors
4- 90 degree angle connectors
7- T- connectors
2- Cross connectors (4-way)
All connecting pieces should be 1 inch fittings

If anyone is interested I can give you more details in an e-mail if you want to try to build your own. It's not too bad. Really fun actually.  It only took about two hours to build. Cutting the pipes took the longest- not because it was difficult but because of measuring once and cutting twice-- wait reverse that.

The coolest thing about this crazy project is that I may be able to use the structure as a mini green house come fall. Just add plastic. 

More pictures below:

Spring has Sprung!

For the next few days it seems so but I'm not holding my breath. I'm expecting at least one more chilly snap but hopefully we won't get anything too major. I've had a great time working the garden the past few days. Getting all of the cold weather crops planted this week has been fun and challenging!

I've sown spinach, mesculin mix, leaf lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, and snow peas. I also put out my onion sets.. red and yellow.

 I did cheat and buy brussel sprout and red cabbage seedlings. Last year the plants worked so well I couldn't resist spending the money on them this year to get them into the ground.

I've started some cabbage seeds, broccoli raab, broccoli and lettuce seeds indoors. They are not quite large enough to plant outdoors but hopefully by the end of the month I can get them outside. They are just now getting their first true leaves. I started them on March 9th.

My tomato seedlings are coming along wonderfully! I started all of my tomato seeds on March 3rd.  I feel a bit guilty about not getting some of them into deeper pots yet. Tomorrow I will get them all transplanted so that they can get thicker and stronger. They look very leggy but they'll be fine once I get them into a deeper container. I usually reuse plastic cups from year to year (with holes poked in the bottom for drainage). I do have some pots I've saved from purchasing flowers. I'm always all about reusing anything I can which can make me a pack rat but it all comes in handy.

More tomato seedling updates after transplanting and when they have their first true leaves! I've been happy with the germination rates of the heirloom varieties I've ordered. They were slower to start than other seeds I've used in the past but they look hearty and healthy!