How to - Techniques

Structures for edibles

Karen York
Photography by
Emilie Simpson

These three structures will help boost your garden bounty.

There’s nothing like fresh herbs and homegrown veggies, especially tomatoes and runner beans. Gardening expert Karen York outlines three ways to boost your bounty.

Easy: Runner bean teepee
A snap to grow, scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) are productive, decorative and easy to harvest when given a structure to climb. A simple teepee made of sticks, dowelling or bamboo poles about 2.5 metres long will do the trick nicely. Six to 10 poles should suffice, depending on the width of your teepee. Pick a spot with friable, fertile soil in full sun. Set the poles about 60 centimetres apart to make a circle, pushing them firmly into the ground and angling them toward the middle. Tie the poles together with twine where they intersect at the top to create the teepee shape.

Plant a bean seed (or seedling) on each side of each pole and water well. Young plants can be loosely tied to the poles, but they will soon climb on their own. Some gardeners loop string horizontally around their teepees for the beans to latch on to, but it isn’t really necessary. Once the beans reach the top of the teepee, pinch off their growing tips to encourage bushiness. Such teepees are usually one-season structures allowing a different crop to be grown in that spot the following year. However, it’s not crucial to include runner beans in crop rotation so you could fashion fancier, more permanent variations of the teepee design.

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