High expectations for your garden this year? The sky is the limit with Tripod Beans from GrowVeg: The Beginner's Guide to Easy Vegetable Gardening.

Climbing beans are the plants that keep on giving and giving and giving! So long as you pick the pods, the plants will respond by simply growing more, all summer long and on into autumn.

Climbing, or pole, beans seem to scramble skyward with effortless grace. As soon as they find their feet, they’re off—and the stopwatch starts on the countdown to harvest. They take up very little ground space, and when grown as a tripod, they make an attractive feature in their own right. Try growing them in the flower border, too. Bamboo canes are the traditional choice for setting up a bean tripod. You can even grow your own bamboo canes! Choose a clump-forming bamboo, as some types can be particularly invasive.

TeePee Beans

Any climbing variety of bean works well for this project. My favorites are hearty runner beans, which couldn’t be better named. You could also plant scrambling varieties of pea.

Pole beans are sensitive souls that won’t tolerate frost. Don’t let that stop you from getting a head start. Sow them indoors, one seed per pot of seed-starting or all-purpose potting mix. Keep seedlings in a bright location, then plant outside once the frost risk has passed. Acclimatize seedlings to cooler conditions for two weeks before planting by leaving them outside for increasingly longer periods. If you want to sow them directly where they are to grow, wait until the soil has warmed to at least 54°F (12°C).

Timing

  • Sow indoors: Mid-spring to early summer
  • Sow outside/transplant: Late spring to early summer
  • Harvest: Midsummer to autumn

Supplies

  • 6 to 10 bamboo canes or other straight stems, at least 8 feet (2.4 m) tall
  • Garden twine
  • Climbing bean seeds
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    Step 1: Push the canes into the ground to make your tripod. Use a trash can lid as a guide to create a neat circle. Canes should be spaced about 1 foot (30 cm) apart. 

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    Step 2: Tie the tops of the canes together using twine. Weave the twine in and out as well as around the canes to give a tight finish. 

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    Step 3: Help plants get a grip—run twine horizontally across the canes with the first line about 1 foot (30 cm) above the ground. 

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    Step 4: Plant or sow one bean per cane, then water to settle in. If you are using seeds, sow a few extra in pots so you can fill in spots where seeds don’t germinate. 

Excerpted and adapted from GrowVeg: The Beginner's Guide to Easy Vegetable Gardening © Growing Interactive Ltd. Child with Triod Beans photo © Benedict Vanheems. Tripod Beans step-by-step photos © Kim Lightbody.

Benedict Vanheems

Benedict Vanheems is the author of GrowVeg and a lifelong gardener with a BSc and an RHS General Certificate in horticulture. He is the face… See Bio

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