Bean support - which would be best?

emileeg(DFW, TX)March 1, 2011

Hi guys! This will be my first year growing beans, and I wanted some advice on how to support them.

We have selected Kentucky Wonder to grow. We're planting an 8 ft row. We do not have the space for teepees.

After some extensive reading, we came up with two ideas, and I was hoping for some additional input. We have already bought three 8' long, 2" square poles for supports - one at each end, one in the middle.ÃÂ

The first ideas is to do a trellis with remesh and cable ties. I feel like this might be sturdier and would require less setup at the beginning of each spring, but I am not sure for a few reasons. ÃÂ I've read that 1)it's a pain reaching through and around trellises, 2) sometimes vines don't want to start winding around manmade materials, and 3) while it will be less work at the beginning of the season, it is harder to remove the vines at the end of the season. ÃÂ Also, would the metal rusting be an issue? My husband is against it because he has bad luck injuring himself and a long string getting tetanus shots because he cannot remember when he had his last one (lol). If there is a splinter to be gotten or a rusty nail to scratch, or something protruding to stub a toe on, it will definitey happen to him!ÃÂ

The second idea is to use the same poles but put an additional pole across the top and hang strings down for the beans to climb. I don't much about this idea. ÃÂ It seems like logically it would work better than the trellis, but in my head I keep going, "Really? Just strings?" Would this setup be sturdy? I'm not terribly worried about winds, but sometimes we can get some pretty nasty storms here in Texas in the summer. Pros, none of the problems we'd have that I've already thought of with the trellis, plus at the end of the season we just cut the strings and throw it all in the compost heap. Cons, possibly not very sturdy, plus have to restring every year. If we do this idea, should I have an additional support or anchor at the bottom of the strings?

Sorry for the long post!

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My experience. I'm not sure exactly what remesh is but I think it's welded wire, maybe 2" x 4" grid. This works pretty well but I would try to find another sort of fence type wire, with like a 6" grid so you can reach thru it. This would also not have rusting issues. Farm/feed stores have large selections and will generally sell by the foot. If they don't have the height you need, buy two lengths and hang one above the other. Cleaning the vines off is a pain so I'm not doing it this year. They get brittle and rot and fall away. All the leaves and leaf stems voluntarily drop early. What remains is just fine for the next year.
I don't think strings dangling in the air is a good idea. However, if you could lay a two-by-four piece of lumber along the ground and tether the strings to it, that would be alot more satisfactory. I would even go as far as to lay some bricks or rocks on the two-by-four to keep it firmly in place.
The fence-wire idea would definitely be a better climbing environment for your beans. It's just a matter of being able to hang it securely.
I have a 24' row with a 4-inch, 10-foot long, treated post at each end. The posts are buried 2 feet into the ground leaving 8-foot high posts. There are two similar 3-inch posts situated in between for additional support. I bought 4-foot high livestock fence wire and ran one length at ground level and another strip above that for an 8-foot trellis. I hope to not have to do any maintenance to it for several years.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 12:31PM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

Hi emileeg,

Don't know if you saw this thread. It contains several great ideas as well.

Good Luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Show Me Your Trellis thread

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 4:43PM
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I use concrete reinforcing wire, but I have a lot of trellises and don't worry about rust. You should buy a cattle panel, or hog panel. As you live in Texas, you might be able to get an old bent one for free from a rancher. Post in want ads or Freecycle.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 4:56PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

Here is what I did last year:

I don't weld, so I got some 10' galvanized steel electrical conduit at the local Farm & Fleet. I used the connectors and electrical junction boxes to join together the pieces. My only regrets are that (a) the cross members which I cut to 18" should have been cut to 24" to allow more room to walk down the middle and pick beans from inside, (b) should have gotten the heavy duty conduit as this bent during a 35-40 mph or so windstorm, and (c) I should have used the solid iron fence posts all the way around. I used a less heavy duty bottom support fence post on one end and it bent over during the storm. I just rebent the whole thing back up.

I used zip locks and plastic mesh. I think the whole thing cost about $30 or so. I'll spend the extra this year for the improvements above as it will then be usable from year-to-year.

I harvested a freezer fully of beans.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 12:38AM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

Incidentally, at the bottom, I drilled holes at just above ground level in the conduit and strung an old clothesline cable, and used the zip locks to joint the plastic mesh to the clothesline.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 12:42AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I Think the stringtwine idea is better.
You can improve it by having tied to something on the ground and meshing.
Some body mentioned not liking the "dangling strings..". Well, the string wont be "dangling" because the vines will be pulling them down. I have seen this "CLOTHES LINE" type of treliss for years, driving by in a neighborhood, for the last 10 years or so. I am bet it works otherwise the guy wouldn't use that system year after year. With this system the wind will not be a problem b/c there is opening between the strings and the wind/air will pass through.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:08AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I learn every day here. Thanks a lot.
After reading your fellow gardeners posts, Yesterday I constructed a beans support system. It is basicallay a clothes line immitation. I have a "T" pole at each end. The poles are 2" steel pipes,about 15' apart. The horizontal part on the top of "T" is about 2', extendings about 1' from each direction.
So here is what I will do: Run about 4 lines from pole to pole and drop strings down from them to ground and fasten them to a 1/2" pvc, at an angle. So that if you look from one end you will see an inverted "V". The middle will be my walk way. BTW, the poles are about 8' tall.
I could have made this with lumber but steel pipes were there already at no cost.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 6:01PM
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livelydirt(Zn 4, Lively, ON)

Just found this ancient thread while looking for a solution to supporting my pole beans. I have used the strings quite successfully and don't anchor them at the bottom, but I don't get much in the way of strong wind in my fairly sheltered garden. I don't want to make a permanent support because I rotate my crop beds. Problem with pole beans is that they are programmed to climb... too high. How on earth do you harvest without using a step ladder? I have my support posts at about six feet high and the beans then start flopping around and intertwining. The jungle gets so thick I think I could be eaten by critters living in there. I may have to resort to what I have seen many older Italian gardeners using... they make a teepee out of very long saplings. Those I can get from the bush behind the house. Just have to figure out how to get up there for the great harvest ion the sky.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lively Dirt - The Garden Blog

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 8:04AM
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Frank Barnett recently sent me some pictures of his bean support system - a tower of wire mesh that is 15 feet tall. He plants 4 or 5 seeds at the base of each tower. It has beans growing all the way to the top. I have not asked him how he picks them.

My trellises are a series of 8 foot T posts. The top of each post has a 1.25 inch PVC T that fits over it. The Ts hold horizontal rebar with another horizontal rebar about 10 inches from the ground. Strings are run up and down for beans to climb on. The whole thing is about 6 feet high. The trellises are 4 feet apart. This concept was suggested by Zeedman. Yes, the vines do make a tangled mass at the top. - Dick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 9:17AM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

Hi Dick.

I think Frank asks Bill to pick them lol.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:26AM
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Rick, that is funny. I did wonder if Frank had a cherry picker! - Dick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 2:50PM
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