how to build a pickling cucumber and pole bean arching trellis

Pinterest is my friend.  I love to get all sorts of really cool ideas and then try my hand at them.  My little archway trellis experiment is one of them.

I’ve known for a while the benefits of trellising plants that climb and providing them a way to grow vertically, but I have just not had a chance to really put it into practice myself.  It all started with this picture:


See how pretty it looks?  The “fruits” just hanging there waiting to be harvested…

The idea is to build an archway out of sturdy cattle panels and train the plants to grow up rather than sprawl over the ground, like this:


Ooh, so pretty!!

Earlier this season I started a whole bunch of pickling cucumbers and pole beans in the “greenhouse” (more on this in a later post), knowing that they were going to destined for greatness in an archway like the ones shown above.

Seedlings.  The pickling cucumbers are the 2 doz egg carton on the far right.
Seedlings. The pickling cucumbers are the 2 doz egg carton on the far right.
Pole bean seedlings in toilet paper rolls.
Pole bean seeds in toilet paper rolls.

Egg cartons and toilet paper rolls?  Really?  Oh, yes!  Talk about reusing stuff, huh?  Actually, they work really well keeping the seedlings moist.  The toilet paper rolls help the pole bean roots grow deep, too.  Once the true leaves emerge and the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, it’s easy to just rip out one egg carton pod, or rip away the toilet paper roll.  At times, I have found that the roots have embedded themselves into the cardboard fibers, so I just plant the whole shebang, cardboard and all.  The cardboard is just going to rot away in the soil, anyway…

So, being the gung-ho chick that I am, I gathered up several cattle panels (which we had used previously to house our piggy, who is long gone, but was sooooo tasty…I miss your floppy ears and soft, hairy snout, Miss. Piggy).  I found four t-posts that were laying around, and I got to work.  Wait, hubby spent a few minutes prepping the area beforehand by tilling it a little (thank you, schmoopy-bear).  Ahem.  THEN I got to work 🙂

Because the cattle panels that we had (16 foot length) were too long for hubby’s pickup to safely bring home from Lowe’s, he had cut them in half.  To make the arch sturdy, though, I had to bind up the two sections together again using some metal wire.  Then, I pounded in the t-posts, which was loads of fun.  It’s a serious way to work out pent up emotions, people!  After that, with the help of some munchkins, I lifted up the two joined up sections over the t-posts and made my archway.


imageHere are four little pickling cucumber seedlings (on the left) and two pole bean seedlings (the taller ones on the right) under one end of the archway.  The cattle panel doesn’t quite touch the ground, and that’s on purpose.  The plants have to grow tall on their own, anyway, plus having the archway suspended a bit off the ground makes it taller, and easier to walk under.  Nobody wants to play limbo while harvesting beans and cucumbers, right?

Archway and greenhouse bus, with hubster hard at work...
Archway and greenhouse bus, with hubster hard at work…

Here’s my archway trellis.  The seedlings under it have a long way to go, but give them a couple weeks and they’ll look great!  In front of the archway, I planted some carrot seeds.  Those two wood sticks are just so the kids know where not to step.

In the background, though, is my pride and joy: the greenhouse bus, or as one of the kids so lovingly calls it, the “green bus.”  Totally makes it sound like we’re a buncha hippie dippies (if you’re a hippie dippie, welcome to my blog! 😉  Hubby is working on cutting out sections of the roof of the bus, and replacing it with greenhouse-type panels.  More on that when the greenhouse is complete.

Oh, and one other thing: companion planting is a wonderful thing.  You can grow more than one type of plant together when they mutually benefit eachother.  More bang for your space, I say.


For a .pdf version of this chart, click: Poster_GDN_Com_Plant

Looking at the chart, beans go well with cucumber (or any type of squash).  That’s because beans add introgen to the soil (a good thing) and squash, with their big, thick leaves, acts as a living mulch, keeping the soil moist and weed-free.  The squash plants are also prickly sometimes, which discourages *some* predators from approaching.  Whatever.  Sometimes a plant needs all the protection it needs.

I am super excited that my vegetable garden has grown to include an archway trellis!  I picture myself in August walking underneath big green leaves and snapping off fat cucumbers right off the plant, and filling a bucket with Blue Lake pole beans.  And then we’re gonna fill up all those empty mason jars I have been hoarding collecting with yummy, home-grown goodness!

How’s your garden coming along this year?

ps: if you didn’t get a chance to vote for my permaculture friend, please do so now!

He is working on a grant for his roadside farm stand business in Oklahoma, and the grant is through Chase Bank. There are only 20 or so more days before voting is over, so please vote for him!  If you want to read more about his project, click here.


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