39) Flower pots with bean stakes (in a small garden)

In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • A)# Construction (from top to bottom)
  • B)# Building up
  • C)# Sowing beans or planting bean plants
  • D)# Making

Introduction

When you have a big garden, you can put bean stakes in the garden soil.

In a small garden there is not much fertile garden soil. Or in the garden there are many flagstones or paving stones. When you want to grow stake beans in a small garden, try big flower pots with stakes.

I got this idea in early 2014. And then I thought, someone else must have tried this before. With “Google” I found that Heidi from Northern California (U.S.A.) made a similar construction. She reported about it in March 2013. The photos and description of Heidi’s “building” can be found    here   .

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First trial

In 2014, I have made 2 bean teepees. One construction has been put in the backyard garden of my neighbour.  And the other one at the play ground of a primary school. My neighbour and the school teachers have done the watering of the plants.

The flower pots were filled with a mixture of sandy garden soil and compost (1 : 1). During growth of the plants, this mixture has been (rather) dry or very moist. This is due to “forgotten to water” or “pouring rain for several days”.

But still many beans have been harvested at the plants.

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Results in 2015

To improve the growing of the bean plants in 2015, the flower pots have been filled with pure (home made) compost. So no mixture of compost/garden earth.

A test with stake beans in various soil mixtures showed: the more compost in the flower pots, the bigger the roots of the plants. The photo above shows the roots of 4 bean plants. The plant at the left side grew in pure garden sand, the right one in pure compost. The 2 plants in the center grew in a poor and in a richer garden sand/compost mixture.

The same test showed: the more compost in the flower pot, the faster a bean plant grows.

In 2015 there is a bean teepee in my backyard garden. This photo has been made at June 22, 2015.

To prevent the soil in the flower pots from soaking due to heavy showers, there is a piece of corrugated plate on each pot.

At the back side, the corrugated plate is not over the edge of the pot. The stems of the bean plants are led through a narrow “D-shaped” opening there. This opening is small, so little rain water will flow through. At that side there is a piece of plastic hose over the plate, to overcome damage of the stems of the plants.

At the front there is a “little door”. It is opened to pour water in the flower pot. On the plate there is a piece of brick to keep the door closed and to keep the plate on the pot during windy weather.

Once a day, 2 coffee cups filled with water are poured on the compost in the flower pot.

These improvements (compost, corrugated plate and everyday watering) must help to keep the compost in the pots at a good humidity and to have the bean plants grow well.

On this photo you see the corrugated plate:

  • A rectangular plate.
  • A piece of plastic garden hose has been cut in the longitudinal direction and has been put over one edge of the plate (to prevent damaging of the plant stems).
  • This piece of hose has been fixed using 2 (black) tie-wraps.
  • At the other side of the rectangular plate there is a “door”. It has been fixed using (red) tie-wraps. The door can be opened or closed.

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Bean harvest

Below photos of the teepee in my backyard garden. June until September 2105.

June 1 (late spring).

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July 1 (early summer)

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August 1 (mid summer)

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September 1  (late summer)

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Remarks:

The harvest at the bean plants of my teepee is not big. Possible causes are too dry soil in the pots or too warm, too sunny.

Possible improvements: Mix some cow manure through the compost in the pots, put more bean plants (approx 10) in each pot, don’t put all bean plants in at 1 moment (but plant in May, June or July), use bigger flower pots.

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A)# Construction (from top to bottom)

Below a description of my teepee construction.

In the construction there are 4 bamboo sticks of about 9 ft (270 cm) long. Two tie wraps (10 inch, 25 cm long) hold the sticks together near the top.

Each stake “stands” slanting against a big flower pot with soil mixture in it. The flower pot is about 12 inch (30 cm) high and has a top diameter of about 12 inch (30 cm). The stake is fixed to the edge of the flower pot with plastic plates and a tie wrap.

In the flower pot there is a mixture of compost and garden soil. This is a mixture that does not dry up so fast and in which beans grow well.

The flower pot may stand on bricks (or paving stones or flagstones). The lower end of the stake also touches the bricks (or paving stones or flagstones). With this set-up, the whole construction will not be blown down so easy at stormy wind.

The stake is outside the flower pot. When the stake is in the soil in the pot, the lower part of the stake will rot. Outside the pot the stake will not rot so fast.

And the stake is above the bean plants in the pot. The growing bean plants will easily “find the stake” to climb along.

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B)# Building up

Below there is a description of the building up of the whole.

In the construction, the bean stakes are used with the thick side down and the thin side up.

Lay all  stakes next to each other on the ground, all with the thin side in the same direction. Put a rubber band around all stakes, about 1.5 ft (45 cm) from each top side. Fix the elastic band using a loop and 1 or 2 tie wraps in the loop, as shown on the photo above. This makes releasing the rubber band easily.

Fill each flower pot with the soil mixture. Then put all 4 flower pots at the right position on the soil or stones. At each flower pot the plates and tie wrap are positioned “away from the center of the 4 pots”.  See photo above.

Put the 4 stakes (with elastic band near the top) “steep”, so almost vertical, on the soil near the flower pots.

At each pot, lift the stake and put the stake through the loop of the tie wrap. After this action, the stake is loose in the loop of the tie wrap. See photo above.

Stand on a step ladder. Fix the stakes near the top with 1 or 2 tie wraps.

At each flower pot, tighten the tie wrap to fix the stake to the edge of the flower pot.

Then spray some cold tap water on the soil in the flower pots. When water has dropped, you can put bean plants in each pot (or sow bean seeds in).

This photo shows the construction when built up.

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C)# Sowing beans or planting bean plants.

The “bean tipi” has been put in the garden of my neighbour. At May 2, many seeds of French beans have been put on moist kitchen paper. From May 9 on, bean plants were big enough to plant out.

The photos above show 2 flower pots with bean plants at May 15.

Remarks:

  • Each pot is 10 inch wide and 11 inch high. Contents of each pot is about 10 liters. In each pot 7 to 10 bean plants have been planted into the mixture.
  • Don’t know how much watering is needed. Time will tell.

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On June 26, plants have grown.

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On July 12, bean plants are big and…

….. many beans are big enough to harvest.

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D)# Making

The small white plastic plates are not for sale. So you have to make them yourselves as described below. And you can read how to fix the tie wrap and the plates to the edge of a flower pot.

D1) Making plates

Each stake is fixed to a flower pot using 3 mounting plates and 1 tie wrap. These mounting plates are not for sale. You have to make them.

The broad plates are about 2 inch (5 cm) long, 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) wide and 5 or 8 millimeter thick. The narrow plate is about 1/2 inch (1,2 cm) wide.

In each plate there a 2 holes (5 mm) drilled. All drilled holes are on the same positions on the plates. Distance between holes is about 0,8 to 1 inch (20 to 25 millimeter). This matches to the size of the lower end of a bone stake.

You can saw plates from thick or thin plastic cutting board, 5 to 8 millimeters (1/5 to 1/3 inch) thick.

Before sawing, draw the outlines (-) and the positions of the holes(*) on a cutting board.

Saw the board in 3 pieces. Drill the holes. Then saw the plates from the pieces.

Use sand paper to remove the plastic flakes.

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D2) Fixing plates to the edge of a flower pot

Push a thick broad plate under the (outer) edge of a pot.

Drill 2 holes (of 5 millimeters) in the edge of the pot, at the same position as the holes in the plate.

Put a narrow plate on the broad plate. Run a tie wrap through the holes of 2 plates and the flower pot, from outside to inside.

At the inside, put the tie wrap through one hole of a (thick or thin) broad plate.

At the inside turn the plate and put the tie wrap through the other hole in the plate and through the other hole in the flower pot.

At the outside turn the narrow plate and put the tie wrap through the other hole of the narrow plate.

Make a “loop” in the tie wrap. Then put the end of the tie wrap in the hole of the tie wrap, just over the 1th or 2nd tooth. The tie wrap will not get loose anymore, but it can be tightened later.

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Remarks:

  • The stake fits well in the loose “loop” of the tie wrap.

  • After tightening the tie wrap, the stake is well fixed to the edge of the flower pot.
  • Thanks to the narrow plate, the stake can tilt a little. The edge of the pot is not an obstacle during this tilting.
  • The loop in this tie wrap (photo above) pushes the top of the stake a little to the left (\).

  • The loop in this tie wrap (photo above) pushes the top of the stake a little to the right (/).
  • This above mentioned stake direction (/ or \) has no influence on the construction. The lower end of each stake is in one corner (of the square, formed by the 4 flower pots). The upper ends of all stakes is above in the center of the construction. So each stake is pushed in the desired direction.

  • At the flower pot on the photo above (with a thin rectangular edge _|), two broad plates have been used, no narrow plate. The edge of the flower pot is bent inside in the construction. This is a test to find out if this edge breaks sooner.
  • When the edge of a flower pot breaks after some time, cut the tie wrap. Then fix the plates and a new tie wrap at another, undamaged position on the edge of the pot.
  • You can fix 3 pieces of cable or rope to the upper side of the construction. And fix the other ends to high positions in the garden. This makes the construction “storm proof.

  • During very dry weather you can put a flower pot dish underneath each flower pot.

  • At rainy weather, or when too much water has been added, you can remove the dishes. When you have “drainable dishes” you can drain the water when needed.

The drainable flower pot dish as shown on the photo is described in tip    2) Simple “tools” and tips   at nr 63.

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