A Simple Pole Bean Support

Fresh green beans are such a summer treat. Most of the beans grown by gardeners are the bush variety. Bush variety beans were developed to be harvested by machine. This means they are on compact plants and all the beans are ready for harvest at the same time. Flavor is an afterthought.

I greatly prefer pole beans. They have the advantage of better flavor and a long harvest.  My favorite is a flat, Roma style.  I’m not sure of the exact variety. I have been saving a few seeds every year for about 15 years, and don’t remember what kind they were. No problem. I care what they taste like, not what they are called. Try a few varieties to see what you like best. 

Pole Beans are usually supported by a trellis or tepee.  I don't particularly like these because they take up more square feet than necessary. It is rather difficult to make a strong tepee, especially if you have to make it by yourself.

I made a tower for my pole beans.  It is made of 1” steel electrical conduit. Conduit is a great material for garden projects. It lasts a very long time, is inexpensive and easy to find at any hardware store.  The drawing shows the basic design.  

Start with a 9’ length.  Cut 4 more pieces 2’ long for cross braces. Mark the centers of the cross braces. Use a hammer to pound the centers flat. This will let you use shorter screws and make the support more secure.  

Next drill holes to pass #8 screws in the center of the cross braces. Also drill another hole near each end.  Drill a hole completely through the 9' pole near the top for a cross brace.  Drill  a second hole at right  angles to and about 1 3/4" below the first holes.  Drill a second set about 2 ½’ up from the bottom of the pole for the lower cross braces. Use #8 screws, lock washers, and nuts to mount the cross braces to the vertical pole. Stainless steel screws, washers, and nuts are recommended.  

Run some strong wire through the holes at the ends of the cross braces to form the squares as shown in the drawing. I like steel electrical fence wire. It is very strong and pretty inexpensive.  

Prepare the soil when it has warmed enough for beans. This is after your last frost.  Pound the support into the ground so it goes about 2 feet in.  Plant your bean seeds about 3’ apart all the way around and just outside the wire square formed by the bottom cross braces.

Finally, tie strings every few inches from the top wire to the bottom wire for the beans to climb on. I use garden twine. The strings are not shown in the drawing. In the fall I can just cut the string off along with the dead vines and put it on the compost pile.

The bean vines will naturally climb up the strings with little attention from you.  The beans are easy to harvest because you don’t have to bend down to pick them.  One bean tower provides enough beans for a meal for our family of 3 every few days.  They will continue to produce until frost kills the vines.  

The one down side of pole beans over the bush varieties is that the pole beans take a couple of weeks longer to start producing. To counter that I plant some early bush beans at the same time I plant the pole beans. The pole beans will be producing about the time the bush beans have finished.

Growing pole beans on a trellis will give you a long, continuous harvest of the most flavorful beans in a very small space. A few dollars and an hour’s work will give you a bean support that will last for years.

Romano Pole Bean

Italian Romano Pole Bean growing on the bean support.

© 2009 - 2022 Gary C. Sutcliffe


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