Bikes aren’t just for riding!

When I visited Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead last summer, I remember seeing an insanely tall pole bean trellis. As I pondered the logistics of harvesting from such a height, I was told that beans near the bottom could be harvested by hand and those up high could be left for drying. It was one of those things, so simple and effective, that leave you wondering, why didn’t I think of that?

Now, when people see my nine-foot tall bean trellis and ask me how I’ll get to the beans up there, I tell them the same thing.  The bike wheel trellis is a new addition to my garden this year, thanks to my friend, Allison, who gave me the old wheels.

I took them to a local welder along with two pieces of metal conduit piping, one seven foot section and another three foot section. I later cut about a foot off the three-foot section with a hacksaw, but the basic design remained the same.

One bike wheel was welded onto each end of the seven-foot section of pipe. The smaller piece was then welded onto the other side of one wheel. Can you imagine me walking the finished product down the street to my house? It was awkward, but I did it. Using a local welder was key.

I put the trellis on the grass in order to weave the twine through the spokes of one wheel to the other. When I got the twine woven all around the wheels, it was time to place it in the bean bed. I pounded a piece of rebar into the soil where I wanted the trellis to go and slid the short piece of conduit pipe over the rebar and into the soil, pulling it down over the rebar as hard as I could.

I sowed my ‘Trail of Tears’ black bean seeds all around the base of the wheel in a circle pattern, alternating seeds inside and outside of the wheel. Soon, the bean seedlings will be climbing their way up the twine and all I’ll have to do is watch them grow!

11 thoughts on “Bikes aren’t just for riding!

  1. radhi

    talk about creative!! i don’t even get half of the things you explain about your garden, but they always seem so amazing. you are a bad ass gardener!

    Reply
  2. Lindsey @ NW Backyard Veggies

    Love this idea! I remember having a similar reaction to a 9 foot teepee of bamboo at an edible garden walk on Whidbey Island – How do you harvest that tall? Then she told me about drying and saving some beans from the top. I felt like a total idiot, but now I do that every year and it’s so easy.

    I like easy. Makes gardening more fun!

    Reply
  3. elizabeth wong

    Thank you for a great idea! I really plan to recreate this plan , but I have a question about the length of the shorter piece of conduit. You have your short piece at 2 feet and that piece fits over your rebar, which is placed into the ground, but isn’t 2 feet a lot to ask a bean seedling to grow before it can get support from the twine ? Thank you for your help.

    Reply
    1. stacy Post author

      Yes, you’re right, 2-feet is a lot, but that piece goes into the ground a bit so it’s not standing 2 feet above the surface of the soil. I pound a piece of rebar into the ground and slide the conduit over the rebar and push it into place. The bottom wheel ends up being about 6 inches to a foot above the ground and the beans do fine growing up to them. Of course, you have to train them a bit once they reach the twine in the spokes, but they’re fine with the space between the ground and the wheel.

      Reply
  4. elizabeth wong

    Hi, this is Elizabeth again. In looking over your pictures, I see the 1st one that shows your bottom wheel hovering a little above the ground, but your last picture shows the wheel placed right at the ground level , with the seedlings being able to reach the twine very easily. So, I think I am confused. Please enlighten me. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. stacy Post author

      That photo is deceiving – the wheel does not touch the ground. It hovers about 6 – 12 inches about the soil.

      Reply
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