Mixed bean teepee?

serobinsJanuary 8, 2014

Hello all,

I'm a complete newbie with questions. I've been looking for answers at the library and on the web, but I still have some things I can't figure out. I finally (!) have a place where I can grow vegetables, and I'm trying to plan a garden for this spring. I will have to be creative and scatter my vegetables around where there are patches of good, full sun.

Beans/peas are the things I'm most excited about growing. Store bought never measure up to the ones we had as kids.

I have a good sunny spot where I am thinking about putting in a pole bean teepee. As I understand it, you take about six 6'-10' bamboo stakes, drive them into the ground in a circle, weave them together at the top, then sow four to six bean plants around the base of each pole.

My questions:

A) Some of the guides I've found just say to sow four-six bean plants per pole and then they leave it at that. Others say to go back to each cluster and pull all but the healthiest two plants. Others say to leave one bean plant per pole. ??? I'm confused. What's the word from the people who've done this?

B) Can I grow different pole-bean varieties on the same teepee? I'll admit that I've been trapped inside for three days in a Level 3 snow emergency, looking at seed catalogs, but it seems smart to me to hedge a bit and try a couple of varieties. I like flat pod wax beans and string beans, and I can't decide between them. Plus, if this pays off and the plants produce, my family is going to need some variety. (Otherwise I'll be stuck making 100 jars of dilly beans with the extra.)

C) I have a huge amount of space and good soil, but I don't have a lot of places with full sun. There's a patch along a chain link fence I may use for peas, but if I could put the peas somewhere else, I would have room to grow some paste tomatoes. Can peas and beans go on the same teepee? Is this the kind of dumb question only a total novice would ask? (And if it is a dumb idea, will a chain link fence be an okay support for peas?)

D) Trying to grow lima beans my first time out in zone 5 would be bonkers, right? Talk me out of it, someone, because I adore fresh limas, and I have not had any real ones since I was a kid. My grandfather could get limas to grow here, but he was a legend.

E) Can I plant carrots and radishes around the outside circumference of my teepee? Or will the carrots be shaded out as the beans grow up?

I know this is a lot of questions. I thought I would spam them all in one big post, and I hope that's okay. Thank you for reading!

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wertach zone 7-B SC

I don't know the answers to all of your questions, but I'll give it a shot.

"Can peas and beans go on the same teepee?" I am assuming you mean English peas? If so, yes, the peas will be about ready when it is time to plant the beans. And if you are talking about cow (crowder) peas they can be grown together. The chain link fence would be ideal!

"Others say to leave one bean plant per pole. ???" IMHO, Yes, they will crowd each other and end up with diseases.

"Can I plant carrots and radishes around the outside circumference of my teepee?" Never done that but they should be ready before the beans shade them.

Keep in mind that even though full sun is good on most veggies, they are normally OK with partial sun.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 12:53PM
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I've tried 4 pole teepees (6 beans to a pole), and 6 pole teepees (4 beans to a pole). The 4 pole works better for me. I have lots and lots of sunshine, so I can get away with 6 vines to a pole.

If you're going with more than one teepee, you can try to find out what works best for you. I'd recommend 3 vines to a pole on one teepee, and either 5 or 6 on the other. If you have plenty of seed, you can plant two seeds in each hole, and clip out the weeker seedling, as I do.

Mixing different varieties on the same teepee works, if you know what you're doing. Varieties should be fairly equal in vine growth. Planting one variety that grows to 14 feet in length alongside another variety that only gets to 6 feet can lead to problems.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:25PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

My pole bean teepees are six feet high and have wire wrapped around them to give horizontal support to the vines. I plant my seed in a perfect circle around the entire teepee with the plants spaced about 4 inches apart. The teepees get completely covered with the vines and they are beautiful as well as very productive. I planted two teepees like this last summer and we ate beans and ate beans all summer (April to November) plus I put 10 gallons in the freezer. I was happy. (It was an unusual summer that never got so hot the vines shut down. It was Rattlesnake beans. My first time. Winners.)

Yes, you can grow different types of beans on one teepee, but I don't think you'll like it. The reason being, you will likely never have enough beans of one kind to make a mess, and you will get tired of keeping them separate, and when they are cooked, you won't know which is which anyway. The point of growing more than one variety is to see which not only grow better, but which TASTE better to you. Maybe you can grow two teepees? Or two crops at different times? My growing season is very long....maybe yours isn't. Just a thought.

Peas and beans on the same poles? Yes. You plant what we in the south, call English peas (shelling peas) early, when it's too cold for snap beans anyway. Then sow your snap beans (green beans) around the pea plants at the right time. By the time the beans need the space, the peas are burned up by hot weather anyway. This technique is called succession planting. If you Google the term, you can read all about it. As stated above, a chain link fence is also ideal for English, Sugar Snap, or Snow peas.

I rather suspect that you would have a hard time with Limas in Zone 5, mostly because your growing season may not be long enough. They need really hot weather for a really long time. But then, I have never gardened in Zone 5, and if your grand daddy did it, who knows? Personally, I would go for easy successes the first couple of years and work into the hard stuff. You'll be less likely to get discouraged.

Carrots and radishes, as stated above should have time to grow and be harvested before beans get going, because they are Cool weather crops. You can plant them much earlier than beans. Before your last frost date even.

I'm thinking you would find it very helpful to Google "Planting Guide" for your state and/or county. It will have the best planting dates for your area. Look at the seed packets (or catalog descriptions) for the number of Days to Maturity. Then start counting from the suggested planting date on your Planting Guide to the DTM on the packet. This will tell you when that crop will be ready to be pulled out. Do the same with your beans. There will be some overlap, which is fine. This technique is called intercropping. Google that term and you'll learn some more!

Good Luck! We'll love hearing how it goes for you.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 6:13PM
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Thank you so much everyone for the help! This is a wonderful forum. Still trying to decide what to plant in my sunny spots, but it's incredibly helpful to sort of know what's possible and what isn't.

Wishing you all good gardening and a bunch of free cupcakes!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:33PM
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