How about recycling some ordinary objects into climbing frames for vegies? My favourite is my small ladder. I painted it purple and now use it for cucumbers in summer and peas in winter. It adds a patch of bright colour to the garden bed as well as keeping these vegetables off the ground and easy to harvest. I also use prunings from my fruit trees to create tripods and teepees to support beans, peas, Malabar spinach, tuberous nasturtiums and more. Recycled reinforcing wire is perfect for long lines of climbing beans, or creating a framework to support indeterminate tomatoes. If you know any builders, they can usually source some discarded bits for free for you.
Another innovative idea I have seen is to use the frame of a garden umbrella to support beans, or even small pumpkins. So if your market umbrella starts to fray and rip, then remove the fabric, anchor it firmly into the ground and plant the vegies around the base. Once they have twined their way up the central pole you can then encourage them to grow along the struts. This conveniently allows the beans, melons, or other fruit to hang down below the frame, making them easy to pick. Also the shade created by these climbers is perfect for planting lettuces that prefer protection from the hot summer sun.
Although they are getting harder to find, the old springs from an innerspring mattress make a fantastic frame for beans and peas, giving them plenty of support to twist around. Some bed ends also make excellent climbing frames. Alternatively if you have a wooden children’s play pen that you no longer use, then remove the hinges from the opposite corners and tip them onto their ends giving you two simple A-frames for climbing pumpkins, cucumbers or beans. Old bike wheels with the tyres removed can be mounted on fences or poles for climbing plants, or clothes horses can be simply placed over climbing vegies of all sorts to provide support.
In this throwaway world, finding ways to repurpose items that would otherwise go to a tip contributes in a small way to sustainability. They can also look great, and make you smile. You are only limited by your imagination.
By: Penny Woodward
First published: September 2016