Garden trellis

So many ways to support tomatoes, pole beans, or sugar snap peas, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Many is the year I had a perfect solution, and many’s the time a found another even better. Each was the best, I thought, until it wasn’t. Now I’ve found a way that’s worked perfectly for years.

The idea is to erect a frame of simple 8-foot 2x3s as vertical posts and horizontal 2×3 rails atop them. From the rails, suspend a plastic trellis upon which the veggies can climb or be fastened to. And that’s it.

Start by soaking one end of each 2×3 in a bucket with about ¼ gal. of boiled linseed oil. With a cheap paint brush, spread the linseed oil up 3 feet above this bottom end, 2 feet of which will be sunk underground. Linseed oil is a natural wood preservative made from the ripened, dry seeds of the flax plant. Some say this isn’t strictly organic. I say a blue bus could fall out of the air tomorrow and it won’t be organic either.

Let the linseed oil soak into the wood for two days or more. Add more oil if needed. Then remove the posts and set the first one into the garden soil 2 feet deep, or a little more, with the help of a post hole digger. Set the next one in a bit less than 8 feet from the first, and so on, such that the horizontal rails can rest atop the posts, and be level.

Now the trellis material. I use something called “Trellinet” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which costs $19.50 for a piece 6.5 feet tall by 30 feet long (enough for a lot of veggies). I fasten this to the overhead rails with a staple gun. Don’t use too many; you’ll need to pull them out in a year or two. Johnny’s also supplies inexpensive clips to fasten tomato vines to the trellis.

That holds you for a year or so; sometimes three. After that, the top ends of the 2x3s have dried out well in the sun, so I disassemble the trellis and frame, turn the posts upside down, and turn the now well-dried tops into bottoms, soaking them in the linseed oil as before, and planting them as before. The linseed oil soaks in better than ever.

This system allows very inexpensive wood posts to last for years while buried underground, giving dry rot no chance to take hold.

You gotta like that.




About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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