We have reached the point of winter where the occasional sunny days give me a real case of spring fever. It may be too early to sow seeds in the garden, but I enjoyed those hints of spring as I inspected my flowerbeds for winter damage, repaired trellises, and prepared my polytunnel for planting.
Another productive way to spend the last breath of winter is to tackle a few garden DIYs like making a new raised bed, collecting supplies for green bean trellises, and setting up tunnels. plant for vertical vegetables. These are quick and easy projects that promote healthy plant growth and may even increase yield! Learn more about each below.
It’s no secret that I am a specialist raised bed gardener with over 25 raised beds in my garden. They warm up early in the spring, drain well and allow me to plant intensively to maximize production. Most of my beds are 4 by 8 or 4 by 10 and 16 inches high. They are made from rot resistant untreated hemlock that I sourced locally from sawmills.
You will find many raised bed building plans online. For my beds, I used 4 inch screws to join the boards. I also added 4 by 4 inch pieces of wood in each corner. Once built and positioned in the garden, I filled my beds with a mixture of garden soil and compost.
My garden tunnels are very ornamental but also practical and provide support for climbing vegetables such as green beans, cucumbers, cucamelons, squash and squash. Growing vegetables vertically offers many benefits. First, it allows you to maximize production, even in a small space, but it also promotes healthy plant growth because trained plants benefit from increased air circulation. Good air circulation is essential for disease prevention.
I built my tunnels out of 4ft by 8ft concrete mesh, available at building supply stores. I use two per tunnel and secure them to my raised beds with wooden strapping. The tops of the mesh panels are held together by zip ties. They are quick and easy to build and add whimsy and vertical interest to the garden.
green bean trellis
A green bean trellis is a classic vegetable garden DIY and the perfect structure for green or green beans. Start by getting your poles. You will need five or six 8 foot tall posts to make the trellis. I used to buy bamboo poles but they are hard to find and if you manage to find them they are very expensive. I now use 8 foot long saplings or 1 X 1 X 8 foot lengths of untreated lumber. Eight feet might seem quite tall, but once the posts are in place and tied at the top, the trellis will be about 6 feet tall.
I like to make this type of trellis 3-4 feet in diameter at the bottom. Once I’m ready to make the structure, I take each post and push it – at an angle – about 6 inches into the ground to hold it firmly in place. I space each post about 12-16 inches apart moving in a circle until all the posts are inserted into the garden bed. Gather the tops together and tie them securely with garden twine or similar material.
Once the risk of frost has passed in late spring, sow 5 to 6 bean seeds directly at the base of each stake. For a rainbow of green beans, plant varieties like Purple Peacock, Goldmarie, and Kentucky Wonder.
Niki Jabbour is the author of four bestselling books, including her latest, Growing Under Cover. She is a two-time winner of the American Horticultural Society Book Award. Find her on SavvyGardening.com and on social media.