Vertical Growing Green Beans

ZZZzzzZZzZzzz.. That’s how I feel right now.  We’ve been doing so much garden work that my arms are barely able to lift my tea cup up to my mouth.    My arms are itching all the way down to my fingers due to getting some sun (even after making sure to apply a high SPF specially made for us ghostly creatures).   And my mind, well my mind just wants some mashed potatoes and sleep. And ice cream.  

Last Fall during the morning before Hurricane Sandy arrived, we ran up to the roof and quickly ripped out our vertical fences (along with our beautiful Sugar Snaps that were so close to start producing peas *cry cry*).   We did it quickly.  I was crying, both scared from wind and because of having to kill my sugar snap peas.    So with the fences down, we had to re-construct them, but this year we wanted them even stronger.  Instead of just putting up poles and a fence, Matthew created a rectangular structure that supports the fence in multiple spots.  One day in and we can already tell it’s going to withstand wind gusts (we get high ones up on the roof) much better. 

Lots of friends always talk about gardening on their roof, but they aren’t sure how to grow vertically as there’s no natural fence, wall, or tree to help assist plants that want to grow high.  You need to be crafty.  You need to be extra safe, the last thing you want to think about is your structure blowing off the roof.   It’s not that expensive to get some PVC pipe and wire fencing.   

To get a idea of how tall peas and beans can grow in a garden, these fences are 10 feet high from last year where our sugar snaps grew:
photo 2.JPG

And to get a idea of how windy it can get 6 floors up, this is before Hurricane Sandy hit.

 Crazy, right?

So this year we set out to build a stronger and more secure fencing structure.

6 – 1″ PVC x 10ft
4 – 1″ PVC 90′ Elbows
4 – 1″ PVC Tees
PVC Glue
4 – 2.5″ x 1/4″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
16 – 4″ x 5/16″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
32 5/16″ Washers 
10′ x 4′ Roll of Chicken Wire
8″ Zip Ties

adjustable wrench
safety glasses

So let’s first by talking about Home Depot.  How do men love that entire place so much? I love the garden section.  I love the appliance section.  I even like the hangers section.  But have you ever been dragged to the piping section? Or worse, much much worse, the screws and nails aisle.  It’s a bunch of guys with giddy stars in their eyes, skipping from screw bin to screw bin, hands full of nuts and bolts.  Matthew has to drag me kicking and screaming down those aisles, which noone seems to notice.  Sometimes I meet eyes with another female and we connect on the bond that we both are thinking of ways to escape.    I’m sure there are females who love the screws and nails aisle, but I’ve yet to meet one.

We had to buy PVC elbows and tees.  My term for them is usually “the white things we put together”.  I’m very good with building terminology.  Matthew had to strategically put them on the ground like this to plan.  Then he told me to stay there with them while he went to another aisle.  So for the next 10 minutes I stood in front of them, anxiously, while people walked by at the poor girl who felt out of place.  I kept thinking in my head “Please noone ask me what I am guarding on the floor”.  Noone did.  Whew, close one.

When we got home we put together PVC pipes with the elbows and tees.  These rectangular structures would be the top of the fence.  Having 4 sides will make the fences much more sturdy.

Eventually the 10 foot tall PVC pipes will be bolted into these tees.

There’s alot of measuring and mathematics.   Anyone else scared of math?

And after the math, there’s alot of sawing.

To attach the PVC pipes we use PVC glue.

It dries very very quick.  So as soon as you swab it on, you have a few seconds to put your pieces together.

Ok, great, both were built.  Now we have to make them 10 feet tall.

The long 10 foot PVC pipes get bolted in.

You have to use a ratchet for this.   Amount of times I’ve called this tool a hatchet?  Many.  Matthew loves his ratchet.  Every time he uses it he shows me how to use it, forgetting we have done this exercise multiple times.  I let him go through the procedure though, I know he gets a kick out of it.

Ok, it’s built.  Now we have to flip it upside down.

I held it into place while Matthew bolted it into the 4×4 wood boxes.  But first, take a picture of me because I feel so strong.

Bolted in.  Be careful if you have plants growing around this area.

One in place…

Both in place.

Now comes the fencing! To attach this you need zip ties.  Time out:  They have neon rainbow zip ties at Home Depot!  I know, how exciting.  After spending 5 hours in the nuts aisle, Matthew let me talk him into getting colorful zip ties instead of the regular white ones.  I told him I deserved it.

This part is a 2 person job.  One person holds the wire fence and rolls it out as we go along while the other zip ties it to the PVC pipe.

You do it in little sections, don’t be afraid to attach too many zip ties.  Get it tight and straight. 

And you go higher and higher..

All the way to the top.

This is a job for people who are brave.  This is not a job for me.  I will stay on the ground and take pictures thank you very much.

We always grow 2 rows of peas or beans so the fence goes in between them.  That way they can grow up both sides of the fence.

Then encourage them to grow tall! Once they see the fence in front of them they will get big dreams.  Be prepared! 🙂

Finally both fences were up.  We were exhausted.  

A few special thanks you:

Thank you to my almonds and dried pineapple. I wouldn’t have made it through the day without you.

Thank you to the beautiful NYC sunsets.  It’s pretty special to be putting up a bean fence, look over and see the World Trade Center as the sun goes down.


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