Thrilling photos! – You, probably not.
I’m a bad Jack, Dear Reader, I’m almost certain that I promised when this year rolled around I’d get photos for a guide on constructing a teepee frame for peas, yes, yes, I know the title is wrong, it’s a gag!, and here I am, shamefaced. I set up the frames and completely forgot to take a photograph of each stage. Honestly, I’m just typing this without even having the photos you’ll see when I finally get around to publishing this post. It’s all deception, Dear Reader! Everything is a lie! Oh, yeah, it’s my three year anniversary for the blog, just putting it out there, you can donate here, no pressure on that score. The site, recipes, everything will always be free, it has taken a knock thanks to the Photobucket mess, but I’m even trying to fix that, albeit slowly and patchily. So, if you have the luxury of a little spare cash, I’d giggle like a madman at even a Euro, Jack is easily made grateful, maybe spare a thought for the work I do here. It might not look like much, but I really do put everything I have into the site, each post is carefully put together, given a lot more thought and careful consideration that my flippant style makes it look like. Still, money isn’t everything, if you want, a share, a comment a like also works really well. Now, onto the teehees.
Lower knot for strength.
I will say that in all these years of running the site I have learned absolutely nothing. Hah! Sorry, that’s a stock joke, but it’s always funny. Like my teepees I’m recycling jokes a bit too, I like to say that I grow my peas on teepees and that tee-hees are for school girls. Any younger Dear Readers shouldn’t laugh at Jack, he’s very tender hearted. This year I’m just thinking of the frames as tee-hees. Anything to drown out the dissatisfaction of promised poor weather. I was gathering up my old poles, I dismantle these at the year’s end to save space, and just decided I’d go for it. They came together a lot faster than last year as I actually had an idea of what I was doing, I even had to walk myself through it step by step. You don’t need much to make these. It takes eleven bamboo poles of equal length, some jute, an elastic band, optional really, but very handy, some ground pegs, as always I use bent wire, save them after too!, and some mesh, more jute would work, but it’d be very tiresome trying to make a grid from scratch.
Too cold to attach the mesh to the other.
They’re not wholly original, but I couldn’t find a guide when I was putting them together last year. Thankfully knowing the steps and being able to improve on last years has been really great. I added another band of wound jute lower down and kept the thickest pole for the centre. They can get bowed due to the weight of the peas. I’m doing two different sizes because one is for a larger peas that’ll drape over, the smaller one, the larger is for sugar-snaps and runner beans. They might overlap at the top, but probably not too much.
Simple, but effective.
So, first steps. Take five poles and spike them into the ground, fairly deep, they need a god support at the base, arranged in a very rough pentagram, too precise and you’ll summon a demon, this seems to give the best support. Less than five might work, but as it going to be there for months more is best. I also threw a brick in between them so the weeds will have a harder time growing in the centre and I can add slug pellets bellow the brick too. So, yeah, do that or both sides, you can measure the distance with the eleventh pole, that’ll be the centre support, give it about half a foot to stick out or it might slip from the grip of the teepees.
A few pins to hold it down.
So, you’ve got a bunch of sticks sticking out of the ground, all wobbly and you’re thinking Jack has been having you on as there’s no way this could stand upright never mind hold weight. Have no fear, I felt the same way you’ll see it all come to a strong support with each additional step, it’s actually rather fun. Next up grab the elastic band, double it up if it’s not taut enough and gather all the poles together, they’ll overlap, sticking out which way, the gap in the middle is where the centre pole will go, Then get the jute and cut a good three foot, more if you can spare it. Tie a loop around the poles, leaving a little tail for later retying, where the band is then start winding it around the poles, tugging it tight as you loop around. You’ll see it n the photos, just keep it tight, keep those poles together and you’ll be fine. Then tie both tails up and double the knot to stop any loosening. See, the elastic will break over time so you can rely solely on that, but it helps hold the poles in place while you work.
That mesh is older than I am.
You know there are so many guides for everything online, but I’ve found that in-spite of their vast size and self-assured certainty that they’ll help they’re often useless reiterations of common information that can be found everywhere. It can range from irritating to down right dangerous. It’s why I write these in this style, they’re anecdotal and backed up by actual experience. Rough around the edges, sure, but I can’t fill in all the gaps and I’m not going to start covering everything with a thin veneer of appealing deception to make it present better. You take this guide, run with what you need and then after doing, even given a little help, you’ve figured out things and actually understood the process. See? Told you this all had a little more depth than first glances would suggest. Okay, back to the frames.
The new try out.
So, you should have two teepees, both tied and fairly sturdy. Just check the poles are as deep as they’ll go to be sure. Add the centre pole, just push it into the gaps of the others and then repeat the jute step. Winding any which way, you want to to secure the pole so the more convoluted a wrap the better. Do this for both sides. The whole frame is starting to get really firm now, right? I’ve added an extra step, just for certainty. Wind another band of jute lower down to really pull the poles tight, I didn’t do it last year, but they were looking a little shaky this year. Probably warped with age. Once that’s done you could kick them, but don’t! Now, you can drape a mesh over, I double up to let both plants climb on each side with ease. Try not to leave too much of a gap between each side, I did last year and weeds prospered in the gap, impossible to pull through the mesh. Pull it somewhat tight, you don’t need to have it stretched, but if it sags the plants might fall, then pin it at the base so it won’t just slip off. There you are! A pea frame fit for anything. If you were growing something heavier, maybe squash?, you could add a third teepee in the centre to really support everything. Now, you will question why bother with the centre and why not just use the teepees? Well, Dear Reader, because Jack has tried that. You end up with peas growing clumped in the centre, near inaccessible and hungry for light. You could widen them and really waste a lot of space in the centre, yeah, I’ve though about this a lot in the Winter months.
So, when you have to plant just dig a trench along, fill it with peas, you can thin them later, and let them run over. I have extra onion sets to fill in gaps so I’ll most likely stick a few in among the peas and poles. I have heirloom dwarf broad beans too, so they’ll find a gap somewhere. It’s all rather easy when you know what will work, but I tell you it can be nerve-wracking the first time you have a strong wind push against your peas. I remember watching them sway, thankfully with so many gaps it’ll mostly pass through while the strength of the frame will help keep it all up. I’ll add photos and publish this so if it creates any inconsistencies in posts then you’ll know why. Until later, Dear Reader.
P.S I was going to end it there, but I figured that if you’d put up with this long a little more on supports might not be out of the question. I know, Dear Reader, Jack is the rock that you all lean on, but you can’t tie plants to Jack. They might start growing out of my pockets if I forget to empty them out, but, no, we’re talking theory here. I’m trying something new in the greenhouse. I always seem to struggle to get the right support for growing plants. You know the basic idea: You put poles all around and tie the plants as they grow. They then exceed the poles, expand beyond them, the poles being singular bend and twist. It’s a pain, so what I’m going to try, I’ll hopefully take a photo for illustrative purposes, I’m under no illusion that this is that interesting, is I’m going to take three poles, I could use more but it’d be wasteful, if it works three should suffice, and place them like a teepee, but like the peas bunching within the large ones I’d have the same problem so instead I’m making it almost a straight column. I need them slanting a little for support, I’m also pushing right to the bottom of the pot so though they won’t be that tall they’ll stay firm. The idea here is that if I tie the base of the plant to the centre they should stay steadier unlike last years that just dragged the poles down with them, by putting the poles in first I’ll also avoid damaging roots. I’ll plant in a circle since the pots are very large. Whether it’ll be tomatoes remains uncertain. Chillies are a given. I was thinking of a bunch all just stuck together like a thick shaft, but they’d still suffer the same issue when they lean. Each point being in a different corner, of a circle?! You know what I mean!, they should push against the pot and hold. It’s all theory, but as I’m trying it you’ll see it in practice in time. If it works, great and if it fails we try again. Okay, now I’ll leave it at this. Seriously, thanks for these three years, they’ve meant a lot.