Jane's Delicious Garden
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
No matter what size our gardens are – they grow and grow until they overflow. My solution is to fill my veggie garden with tripods and trellises. Over the years I have created many different ones, some more successful than others. One of the prettiest was a copper one I made by soldering plumbing pipes together. It might have been a work of art but it was useless for plants. Copper is an excellent heat conductor and it burnt everything that grew up it! It wasn’t wasted though – it is now a birdcage for our growing collection of Melville wire benders’ parrots.
My two most recent creations were more successful: One is completely organic, created from bamboo and vine. The other is industrial looking, with blue washing line wrapped around metal poles sunk into concrete blocks. It is solid but portable. I also have permanent tripods made from gum poles, which are excellent for heavier veg like butternut.
Before you start
Think about the position of a tripod carefullly before you place it: you don't want to block valuable sun.
Place wide planks on ground of the bed where you are working to prevent the soil becoming compacted.
Bamboo and vine tripod.
This tall narrow structure is suitable for runner beans, peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. It could also be constructed in a large pot.
1. Spacing the bamboo evenly, push them firmly into the ground, making a circle about 80 cm in diameter. Make sure you push them at least 30 cm into the ground so the tripod is stable.
2. Using a ladder, gather the top ends together so they overlap in the same direction and tie them together with twine.
3. Over the twine, weave the vine into and around the bamboo, creating what looks like a bird’s nest or wreath, wrapped in a ring around the bamboo.
4. Repeat this with more vines near the bottom of the tripod and then a third one half way up, equidistant between the top and bottom ones.
5. Wrap and weave some lengths of vine in a spiral from top to bottom, going in different directions each time, to create a diamond pattern.
This tripod, with its heavy cement base, is solid yet it can be moved to a different position next year.
1. Weld the three flat pieces of metal at right angles to the bottom of each of the poles. This is to prevent the pole pulling out of the cement. If you don't have access to a welder, drill a hole through the bottom of the pole and push a thick nail through it.
2. Mix sufficient cement for one pole with water, following the instructions on the bag.
3. Position a pole in the centre of the bucket, with the right angle metal at the bottom, and add the cement.
4. Once it has set, remove it from the bucket and repeat with the other two poles.
5. Position the three poles in a triangle in the garden, digging slightly so they are set into the ground, leaning towards each other. Gather their tops and tie them together.
6. Wind blue nylon washing line diagonally around the poles
This sturdy, long-lasting tripod is ideal for heavier use such as butternut and gemsquash.
1. Dig three holes, 50 cm deep on the corners of a triangle, with the sides of the triangle measuring about 1.2 m long. Place a half brick in the bottom of each hole and place a gum pole in each hole on top of the brick. (This increases stability). Fill with soil but do not firm.
2. Using a ladder, tie the three poles together loosely about 30 cm from the top. Step back and adjust it so it is centered. When it is straight, bind the poles together securely with the wire and firm the soil around the base of the poles.
3. Cut three 1.4 m lengths of thatching laths.
4. Drilling holes first, nail the shorter pieces across the uprights, 20 cm above the ground. The ends will protrude so overlap them.
5. Repeat this six times, working your way upwards, leaving 20cm gaps and using successively shorter lengths of thatching laths:
Level 2 = 83 cm wide
Level 3 = 67 cm wide
Level 4 = 58 cm wide
Level 5 = 43 cm wide
Level 6 = 33 cm wide
Level 7 = 25 cm wide
6. Cover the wire at the top with lashings of natural twine or rope.