Gardener's Supply Company

Building a Bean Tower

If there’s one thing you know about your children, you know they enjoy playing hide and seek. Why not try building a bean tower that they can use to hide in and still provide the family with fresh green beans to enjoy.

The process of building bean towers isn’t difficult, so it’s something your children can help you with. Who knows? They may even decide to eat some of those green beans when they help you pick them, or while they’re hiding inside the tower.

Your children will be able to help you plan where to place the bean towers and then help planting the beans. Making actual towers may difficult, so instead create a teepee to accomplish the same effect. Here’s what you’ll need:

* 3 to 6 poles or stakes that are at least 6 to 8 feet long per planting tower. If you’d like to have more than one tower or a larger diameter, you’ll want to have more than the 3 to 6 poles.

* Lay all of the poles next to one another on the ground.

* Using weatherproof cord or rope, tie it around all of the poles starting about six inches from one end. Try to keep the poles moveable, so you don’t want to tie them together too tightly.

* Create a circle on the ground that is about three feet in diameter. Mark the center of the circle to show where the center of the teepee will go.

* Carefully stand up the poles, spacing them evenly to create a teepee. Then you can push the poles into the ground a couple of inches one by one.

* Weave twine between the sides from the top of the teepee to the bottom. This will be the framework that the bean vines grow up. Leave one section open between the poles to act as your entrance.

* Plant several plants (choosing only one of these: pole beans, peas, cucumbers, or morning glory) or several seeds at the base of each pole. When the plants sprout, you can thin them out and keep only those that are hardiest.

You can also grow potatoes on towers or teepees except you can use a heavy-gauge wire cage that’s 2 to 3 feet in diameter and about 3 feet tall. Place the cages to allow the plants to get at least six hours of sun a day. Line the cage with hay to provide composting material; you’ll need at least 4 inches of compost in the bottom of the cylinder. Then place 4 to 5 seed potatoes (places at least 6 inches apart).

Cover the potatoes with 3 to 4 inches of dirt, then water them well. Cover the plants with more compost as they grow until the compost reaches 6 inches below the top of the cage, and then stop adding compost. Keep the cylinder well watered. When the plants begin to wither and turn yellow, it’s time to let your children take the cylinder apart and harvest the potatoes, normally around twenty new potatoes per plant.

When the vegetables have been harvested, no matter which ones you plant, be sure to save the dead plants. You can use them to add to a compost pile for other plants or spread them out in the garden to nourish the whole garden. After all of the work is done, don’t forget to tell your children to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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