With all of the concern lately about eating healthy and being kind to the environment, one activity that many people are discovering as a fun and meaningful way to do their part in the green movement is to grow a backyard garden. Even First Lady Michelle Obama recently enlisted the aid of some fifth grade students and White House staffers to plant an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House. While the First Lady certainly had ample room for a lush garden, many urban would-be farmers must plant their seeds in a much more modest setting. One of the best ways to make the most of your garden space, however large or small, is to plant crops that can grow upward instead of outward.
Certain types of beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables are at their best when rising vertically instead of crawling along the ground. These plants need a structure upon which to climb, and one of the best ways to give them what they need is to build bean plant towers. Building a bean plant tower is not a complicated do-it-yourself project, and is one in which all members of the family can participate. All you need are a few simple tools, some sturdy twine and enough bamboo or PVC poles to build as many structures as you plan to use. You can have your vertical garden ready to plant in an afternoon.
The type of pole or pipe that you use is not important to the functionality of your bean plant tower as long as it is strong enough to eventually stand up under the weight of your crops. Check with your local nursery or garden center to find what is most readily available in your area. Since you'll be arranging your bean plant tower in a teepee shape, buy poles that are long enough to provide proper height even after you have leaned them to make the structure, typically 5 to 8 feet in length. Next, drill holes in all of the poles at 12 inch intervals. When the holes are drilled, take a piece of sturdy twine and thread it through the top holes in all of the poles. Tie the twine so that the tops of the poles are held closely together. Stand the poles up and spread them apart at the base, creating your teepee structure. Use the rest of the holes you have drilled to thread more twine through the poles, creating handles for your vines to grasp as their grow upon the structure.
Secure your bean plant tower into place by burying the feet of the structure about 6 inches into the ground. Now just plant your seeds and guide the plants up the tower as they grow.