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My goal this summer is to add trellises to grow pole beans, English peas, and melons. I've already purchased thirty five 8ft T-Posts and the trellis netting, which will be enough for five 25ft beds.
My dilemma is how to make the holes for the posts. I don't have a post hole digger, and really don't need a big hole to set these posts. Rather, I need a "slit" into which to place the posts. I could hammer them into the ground, but there is a rock ledge just under parts of the clay top soil throughout the garden, so I don't want to bend the posts. We have built raised beds on top of the clay soil layer, so I need to get the posts deep enough to go through the 12" layer that I have created, plus another 12" or so into the clay layer to prevent the posts from tilting in the wind.
Anyone had experience setting such posts? If so, what tool did you find worked best? I don't have anything mechanical, and don't have a lot of money to spend.
you need what I call a post pounder- can't think of the right name but it is basicly a heavy metal tube with one end closed and it has handles. Ask where you bought the t-posts- it is worth every penny you spend. Check a feed store- they may have them for rent.On our last property we fenced and cross fenced with t-posts and red brand wire- almost 8 acres. Only posts set in cement was the corners and gates. You put the pounder over the post, lift it a bit and slam it down- you only need to sink them to just over the flange. Hope this helps
We have one of those post pounders, too. The only trick is to get up high enough so you can exert a little pressure as you release it to hammer the post into the ground. We usually start off with a sturdy ladder at each post. We use that all the time, whenever a metal-stake fence is needed.
lay your posts out where you are putting them, slid the pounder over the top and then stand the post up. make sure it is exactly where you want the post cause once it's in, it's h### to move,and also make sure it is straight with the bumps going the same way. lift the pounder a little and let it drop. Do this a few times till it sets in the ground a bit- then lift it almost off then let it drop- you only need to do this till the flanges are buried. Granted, if you are not used to heavy work your arms will hurt but think how toned your arms will look- just like lifting weights. I was in my 50's when we fenced our property,and I did 90% of the work alone.
What are you using for the trellis part? If you are using wire fencing you can buy clips- they look like a bent U with loops on either end. Put your trellis wire on the smooth side of the post, put a clip in place holding with one hand, pull the wire a bit to hook over one loop, then straighten the clip and pull the other side of the wire and hook. If you are using wire fencing such as red brand (rolled fencing) you will need help pulling it tight or it will sag. We made a come along out of a heavy board with hooks running it's length and a hook and chain on the other side which we attached to our lawn tractor. Do short sections at a time, pulling the wire tight but not stretching it out of shape, put a clip in the top and bottom then move on till finished. We then went back and clipped in more clips in the middle.
Hope this helps, if you are still confused find a feed store or tractor supply- they will be happy to explain visually. Where did you buy your posts? They also should be able to help you. Good luck, Susan
Sorry, went back and read your original post and saw you are planning on using netting. A trick I have used is to facen top, middle and bottom to the first post, then put a dowel or old broom handle at the edge of the net where it unrolls, then holding net on pole together pull it tight, wire top, middle and bottom and so on. You will still need help doing this in order to keep the net tight- otherwise the weight of the crop will pull the net down. I learned this the hard way- also-
Not to bust your balloon but is the netting plastic? You can never get the dead vines off, so it looks ugly or you end up tossing the whole mess. Another trick is to run wire at the top and bottom of the post, either clipping or looping around a few times, then run hemp twine top to bottom in sort of a zig zag. then when your crop is done just cut off the twine and throw everything in your compost pile. the hemp will decompose in a short time and save the landfill. I did this for many years with great success after I realized how much money I was wasting using plastic net.
We use hemp twine, too, for our beans. Our uprights are bamboo poles with metal stakes alternating for stability (two bamboo to one metal, depending on the length of the row), and then we run bamboo poles across the top and bottom of the setup so we can string our hemp from those.
cornish2175 I'm using nylon netting, which I think is what you are calling plastic netting. I've used hemp and nylon in the past and prefer the nylon. I agree that it is difficult to remove the dead vines from the nylon netting, but I do it a few at a time during the fall/winter months when I let the dogs out. I like your idea of using a broom handle, and will give it a try.
GG getting hubby (he's 80) or myself (I'm 68) on a ladder is not possible, especially as our garden is on a slope. My darling hubby has neurological problems and frequently falls over even on level ground. I once had a hard time getting him up because he had fallen and become wedged between the fence and a tree. As to myself - my family will attest that me and ladders are not good friends ^^_^^
Quoting:Unless one farms, you will have limited use for this driver.
What about getting a handyman to put these up for you? A lot of people erect permanent lattice/fence structures and rotate which crops they grow on each one. I have also seen some neat structures made of cattle fence, formed into a hoop; these can be semi-permanent as well. You don't want something you have to put up and take down every year if you're doing this mostly by yourself.
Quoting:A lot of people erect permanent lattice/fence structures and rotate which crops they grow on each one
You and I think much alike on gardening matters.
I plan to keep the posts in place to grow pole beans, peas, and melons. I might even try tomatoes tied to the posts - but I think the posts will be too far apart to do this, unless I planted tomatoes every four feet with something else in between. I'm going to set the posts 4ft apart.
You can put up temporary poles between the four foot spans for tomatoes, or else grow them on wire strung between them; that's not a bad way to support them if you have two strands of wire a couple of feet apart.
GG - I had thought of the wire idea, but handling wire, or wire fencing doesn't seem like something I would be happy doing. But temporary poles would work! We have lots of bamboo poles. I have pea fences, but they are not tall enough, the tomatoes grow up and over the top and make it both hard to pick them, and almost impossible to walk between the raised beds.
Hmmm... I just had a "light bulb moment" I could grow indeterminates up the 8ft posts and determinates in between - they only grow a little higher than my pea fences!
I can't wait until the first row of posts have been set and I can show y'all photos!
Honeybee, I think your last idea, the light bulb moment, would work great for you. And lots less work that running wire, adding fencing and such, eh?
I, too, use T-posts for bean trellises. And yep, I also only take them down on occasion...first part of season I grow peas up them. Peas don't produce long so I can easily follow them with pole beans...and no, I don't worry about following peas with beans at all, not until or unless I see any common disease/virus that peas and beans would share.. The following year you can start with peas again and when they are gone you can grow cukes or vining squash up your trellis. Or yes, tomatoes, too.
At some point you might want to invest in a cattle panel. Those can be easily lashed to your row of posts and are sturdy enough to grow anything on. Even tomatoes don't need tying up because you can just weave them through the holes in the panel as they grow.
As for getting the posts in the ground, our local high school has volunteer students who are involved in Ag classes and such and they are always looking for someone to help...they get credit for it, the community gets a helping hand, and you get your posts in the ground.
Here is one of a bean trellis with t-posts, wires running at the top and bottom, then twine/hemp woven between the two wires. In this row I used shorter posts so you can see I extended their height using galvanized pipe.
This trellis works great for beans, peas, cukes, etc. Goes up fairly fast and I normally just replace the hemp/twine each year.
Shoe (out to the garden before i lose my daylight. )
Maybe use a pick to loosen the soil down to the rock level, push the post through the loosened soil, then stomp the soil down to pack it?
If you have a lot of bamboo poles, but they aren't sturdy enough to support as much weight as you need, you can turn them into tripods that will support at least three times the weight. (And tripods don't need to be driven into the ground for stability.) Just twirl some stromg waxed twine 3-4 times around the three upper ends, pull tight (and maybe make a half-hitch to hold it tight), then weave 1-2 loops very tight BETWEEN the poles to pull the main loop tight. Square knot.
I stomp the spade into the ground as deep as it will go and rock it back and forth, stomping it deeper if I can, thus creating a slit into the ground. I then insert post into the slit and plum the post and use the post driver until desired height for post. Then stomp the earth back in around the post. I'm not very tall and have devised this method over the years. The least amount of wear and wear on my back while still being able to do it by myself.
Rick, all of my tomato plants are grown on bamboo tripods, but I always sink them into the ground about a foot. Otherwise a strong wind would blow them over, plants and all. My indeterminates get large and unwieldy and need all the support I can give them.
Usually at least once each summer we have a storm with high winds that attacks my bean fencing, maybe because it's typically a solid mass of foliage. My tomato tripods can normally withstand it, but they are anchored in the ground.
Rick We tried the tri-pod method with the bamboo poles the first year here, but the results were less than satisfactory. By the end of the growing season, the whole shebang had fallen over!
terri_emory We have a regular spade (similar to the one in your link) and hubby and I have decided to try putting in the posts using it. If that doesn't work, we'll scratch our heads and think of something else. LOL
Horseshoe I have followed peas with beans on several occasions over the years with no apparent ill effects. This year, I'm going to follow peas with melons. I purposely purchased 8ft posts so I would not have to add extensions as you have done. I'm hoping they will still be tall enough once I get them into the ground ^^_^^
Honeybee (who is rather surprised that "shebang" is actually a real word!)
Hehehe, yeh, "shebang" is a great word, Honeybee! I'd love to hear it said with your accent!
As for tripods, I usually put up a couple each year in an area where there is not quite enough room for a straight-line trellis. But like some of ya'll they are best if the legs are pushed into the ground a bit. Once a tripod is full of foliage it is like a sail and easily toppled over once it is top heavy.
I think my best one was a four-legged one (a quadpod?). It was big enough to stand under and roomy enough to put other plants within its legs. I think its height was 9 ft tall.
Nothing like a pretty tripod or two in your garden! Then again, nothing like a pretty string trellis, too...they look like a work of art, don't they?
A work of art indeed, Shoe- but in my country the wind would put that down real quick! Here's what I have in place for this year- My soil is terribly rocky, and it's nearly impossible to put anything in deep enough. So I braced the fence posts to the cedar fence about every 6' or so. Hope it will work. I can add cages, twine net or whatever I want along the way.
Yep-can't wait to join all the others (namely Gymgirl, drthor and the other lucky southern gardeners who are potting up now!!!) But our time will come. We are just starting to melt some of the 8" of snow & ice that we got. I think I will spend the day making carrot seed tape with TP & watered down white glue. Exciting? not- but I'll be glad to have it in a few months when it's planting time.
Um, Gymgirl's potting up progress has been impeded by the fact that, as I was slicing up several Brussels Sprouts plants that are only giving me "blown" sprouts, and I had just said to myself,"be careful, Linda," I promptly sliced through my left index finger with the pruners. Luckily, I sliced in at a 45 degree angle and missed a major artery. But it's still deep and, as we well know, digits love to bleed!
So, as much as I want/need to pot up the seedlings, my finger would not allow me to maneuver playing in dirt with a rubber glove on. Shoot!
I measured, and the seedlings are about 4"-5" tall, and getting fat. Looks like spacing them in the community flats when I sowed gave them room for their roots to thrive, and they're not competing for light nor water.
I also calculated I would have 4 more growing weeks if I pot em up tomorrow + one week to harden off. I can still fall within the plant out window for this batch. They'd be around 8"-10" at plant out. I'll have missed getting them in by 6"-8" as one expert grower recommend. But, I'm on track with the growth rate from last year, and they were fine. But, I wanted to see what a younger seedling would do.
Good thing Drthor tipped me off about starting the longest season maters first!
Quoting:I live on a short,dead-end street with no teenagers or young children. It's so quiet and peaceful without the them...one way or another, the posts will get into the ground - it just might take awhile
If I were a tad closer I would pop over there with some ice cold lemonade and we'd have us a pole raisin'! Good luck with it all Honeybee.
Gymgirl Blood meal can be purchased in a bag y-know - you don't have to feed them directly!
Seriously - I'm sorry to read about your encounter with the pruners! There must be something in the air... my son-in-law cut his finger badly enough to need stiches over the weekend while cutting drywall with a box cutter!
Be careful out there!
While I'm thinking of it - I had my doctor give me a tetanus shot during my last visit.
MaryMcP - thanks for the offer - however I'm allergic to all citrus fruit!
Shoe, what a great idea for extending posts! We use t-posts with cattle panels for tomatoes. I tried them with beans, cukes and melons but we have too much wind. When the panels rocked, the vines ripped out of the ground.
Gymgirl, the pharmacist can order tetanus shots? Bud and I were just talking the other day about updating ours.
We use a post driver to put in the posts. A construction stool (like a tool box, but it has legs and a handle so it is easy to move) gives the right height to pound them in.
Mornin', Susie...nice to see you posting your successes!
I'm lucky I don't have the high winds you do...or if I do they tend to run the length of the rows and not broadside. I put a t-post in the center of the cattle panels and wire them together, it takes a lot of play out of the panel wiggle. I'm sure ya'll do that, too, but your winds must really be a pain. Maybe using more center posts would help, eh?
Just a word of wisdom so ya'll don't make the same mistake. Of course a less solid fence will allow the wind to blow through, or a string trellis, but I keep thinking what if my pole beans and tomatoes had been attached to those wimpy posts, what a loss, eh?
Here's an idea that might help stop wind pulling roots out of the ground.
In the photo is my old set-up - I'm changing this to metal 8ft t-posts. Along the bottom is bamboo, which is fastened to the uprights with zip ties. Although the wind does whip the vines, the roots stay put - at least that's been my experience.
Chuckl, you can usually rent- or ask your feed store for the t post setter, but winds aren't the only reason to set them deeper than a foot- when you water your plants it softens the ground and the t posts can't remain anchored, or even visit tractor supply and see if they loan out the t post pounders...
Shoe, a breezy day here is less than 30 mph winds, they don't even say "windy" unless it's 35mph or more! The other day it was up to 45, hard to pick salad greens on a day like that because they kept blowing out of the basket.
We were using 2 cattle panels and 3 t-posts (the good kind from the farm supply store, not Lowe's) per bed, but have now changed to anywhere from 5 to 7 posts per bed. Much sturdier and less wiggle.
My neighbor has some galvanized metal poles that were used for a camper cover. They come with extensions that give me roughly 12' of pole.
I plan on drilling holes through the pipes, pounding them in about 24-36" leaving 9'. I'll run some heavy guage wire through the holes parallel to the ground. Then, I can drop some twine from the top wire down to the beans.
That sounds like it should work! But we found that it was good to anchor the twine both top AND bottom. Maybe you can drill holes on the lower side, too. We usually put our lower cross-poles about four or five inches from the ground level so the beans have to reach slightly to climb.
Doesn't it make you happy to score finds like that!!! This morning I got a BIG bag of black shoestrings-about 15" long- there are thousands, and they will be perfect to tie up tomatoes, cukes, etc- I already had many spools of various macrame twine, etc- I collect everything for my garden. Another thing I use is cheap plastic shower curtain hooks- they clip around a pole very easy to hold a wandering vine!
Love all the suggestions. Imaginations sure do come in handy when you need them don't they? Whatever works. I love the cattle panels both for vines and tying up tomatoes. I had a nasturtium vine that covered one entire end of my hoophouse one year. Thick vines it had. The cattle panels are stationary so I could just pull them out at the end of the summer.
Gymgirl - the problem I see with your plan is lining up the holes. My 8ft posts ended up at different heights - not much of a difference, but if I had to run string horizontally between them the difference in heights would be problematic. I will be draping my posts with trellis netting.
HoneybeeNC wrote:Gymgirl - the problem I see with your plan is lining up the holes. My 8ft posts ended up at different heights - not much of a difference, but if I had to run string horizontally between them the difference in heights would be problematic
Have you access to a laser level? They were introduced to the general market a number of years ago, now available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. They aren't really that new, but for sure us old-timers didn't learn about them growing up because they didn't exist back then (the smallest lasers were the size of a desk and way too powerful). If you know someone who's into carpentry or home repair, they probably have one you can borrow and would love to demonstrate. They work by using an internal "spirit level" to send a narrow beam of light horizontally or vertically. Nice for everything from hanging shelves to getting the pictures on your walls straight.
It would be a two-person operation. First determine which post sits the lowest. Turn on the laser level, make sure it's on "horizontal" mode, and position it so the light beam just touches the top of the post (I would actually shine it across the horizontal surface to make sure you're not measuring short), and swing it around to hit each other post one at a time and mark where the light hits each of the posts. Next use a saw of your choice to cut the excess off the taller posts.
You can also use the method to determine which is the shortest post - it's the one that isn't hit by the light aimed across the top of any of the other posts. In fact, even if you think you know which post is shortest, I'd test that assumption by performing the procedure of marking all the other posts before making the first cut. That way, if you run into a post that is not hit by the horizontal beam you have found the new shortest post ;o).
SO and I use a length of iron pipe and a three pound hammer for rock bustin'. We are on the side of a mountain with a granite substrate. I like to change up the garden plan and am always amazed at the underground heave of new rock in areas that have been previously de-rocked.
So far, the line's holding and the tomatoes are growing vertically. I'm going to put two more tomatoes on that line. Cricket advised that she plants anywhere from 8-12" apart, since most of her plants are pruned to only one main stem. I have enough space to set two more.
I didn't see any horizontal strings. Can tomatoes climb a string the way peas or morning glories can?
Or are you planning to run some horizontal strings or poles later?
I only grew tomatoes one year so far, and I let them sprawl which led to a lot of rotted Stupice, though the Sungold cherry tomato vine held itself up pretty well. Maybe the flowers it choked out, when it surprised me by surviving, served as supports!
There are no horizontals. The leader line is wound around the plant, which will be pruned to only one stem, until I learn to manage a double-stem vine. The line is secured to the overhead cross piece, with enough extra to support the plant vertically as it grows taller.
This is the system Cricketsgarden grows over 1000 tomatoes with. Hers grow closely together, side x side in 4-gallon pots. You should see her yield from such a small space.
Tomorrow I'm planting two more plants between those three. Cricket grows as close as 8" apart. I have space on that 48" line for five, single-stemmed tomato plants!
The frame is made from my salvaged, 7.5' galvanized metal fence posts. They're sunk 2' down. I removed the caps and affixed couplers to the tops. I joined an 18" section of PVC pipe to each side, bringing the height back up to 7'.
Then, I joined the 5' wide PVC cross piece with elbow couplers. Before construction, I spray painted everything to coordinate with my fence.
Here's Cricketsgarden's setup. It is totally fascinating!
And my thinking has always been that you had to be desperately soil challenged to grow anything in a container, and then the yield was way less than satisfactory. All I have been reading this year has more than shown me to be totally wrong- you can grow anything in a pot if you use the proper materials and feed them right. I am awestruck at Cricket's and others photos and info. I won't be using many containers, simply because I have my ground pretty well fixed the way I want it. I do have 3 half barrels for potatoes, and some strawberry hanging planters.
>> you had to be desperately soil challenged to grow anything in a container,
Even if that were true, many ARE desperately soil challenged! The bulldozers didn't leave much behind when they prepped my little lot in a manufactured home park. If you only have N cubic feet of soil, it seems to go farther in a pot than in a bed, if what's under the bed is totally impenetrable or would be flooded if roots did open it up..
I'm still building tiny raised beds as fast as I can create soil for them, but I'm compost-limited (or budget-limited). My curent basic recipie is 30% clay + 50% compost + 20% crushed stone and shredded bark. Replenish with 5-20% more compost, manure and coffee grounds every year, if I have it. Add bark mulch if I have it.
Here's another reason to grow in containers: being space / sun deprived. I have a tiny yard, and part of it is wasted on driveway and deck. Someday I may tear up part of the deck and amend the soil under it, but for now, I'm building RBs wherever I have any sun.
And planning to put some 5 gallon buckets on the deck, where there is sun, but no soil.
If the driveway were wider, I would put buckets there.
I may be able to sweet-talk and bribe some new neghbors into letting me put buckets on some shared driveway turn-around space, but pots might be knocked over by cars there.
That said, I agree with your first idea: if you CAN put plants where their roots can take advantage of real soil in the real ground, that's good for the plants.
Rick, I got agreement from a neighbor to use the large easement behind his garage, (which he never used or even looked at.) He agreed to let me use that sunny spot and allowed be to install a gutter on the back of his garage to collect the rain water from it. Good Neighbor! I have the best ones anyone could hope for.
He moved and is renting the house so I give a little to the renter but most of it to his daughter who lives next door to me. My neighbors contribute to my compost pile when they have things and we share cuttings and seeds. We feed each other's pets and house sit if needed. Ive never enjoyed a neighborhood as much as this one. Good luck with your new neighbor. It sounds promising if they are into growing things too! Tell them about the lady I saw on Home and Garden Network who said she refuses to water anything in her yard that does not produce food.
Back to Cricket's tomatoes, I think, and maybe someone will correct me if I am wrong, that she grows her tomatoes in grow bags. Can't remember what quantity, 1, 3, or 5 gallon. And, you should remember that unless you are going to pack them in tightly together, I found that they didn't do well because if you moved them, or shifted them at all, the roots can not grab hold in the soil. It keeps moving.
Which is why I highly recommend switching to Tapla's 3-1-1 container mix based on the Pine Bark Fines as the main component. This mix will save you a boatload of cash!
I filled FORTY 5-gallon and 6.5-gallon buckets last season. I spent either $18 or a 1/2 yard of pine bark fines, or $30 for a full yard (I can't remember which). I had about 1/2 the load left so I still think either is a bargain! I bought only two very large bags of MG potting mix for the peat component (but you can buy your own brand of reed/sedge peat), and 6 cubic ft. of Perlite (I use 1 lg. bag, and 1/2 of another large bag). Mixed in 2 cups of Dolomitic lime, and 1 cup of Triple 13 fertilizer per bucket.
LOL, it would cost me a lot more than that in just the gas to go get that stuff. If I could find it that is. But then I spend a lot on mixes anyway.
I did start some tomatoes, or at least I sowed the seeds in Roots Organic. Very strange stuff to be starting seeds in I think. I can see planting in it. And then I have some others I put in RR plugs. So, we'll see. Can't remember what else I was going to try other than Happy Frog. I do like that, but don't want any more tomatoes. Will try the Petunias in it.
Tapla's original formula is actually a 4-1-1 mix of pine bark fines:peat:perlite. He advised me to play around with the ratios for the eBucket mix, since I would need more wicking action.
I found 4-1-1 to dry out a bit faster than my brassicas liked, so I dropped the PBFs ratio. Some eBuckets had more peat (I recycled the old MG potting mix from the previous season as my peat component). In that case it was a 3-2-1 ratio.
I had some free draining buckets that the 4-1-1 worked really well in.
Considering I had over 40 buckets, and everything thrived, I'd start my PBFs search all over if I had to. I cut only two brand new bags of MG potting mix into the formula. You know how many $13 bags of straight MG it would've taken to fill 40 buckets?
I think I might try a recipe of coir/earthworm castings/perlite and add pine bark and MG potting soil to it. As long as I don't make it too heavy, it should work okay. I have several 7-gallon pots lying around - I'll set a single tomato plant in each and see what happens!
I mixed several packages of old tomato seeds together and sowed them. To my surprise lots of them grew! If the experiment works, I'll have lots of tomatoes, and if it doesn't - well I'll just add the mix to the raised beds. Nothing lost! ^_^
I'm tutoring so many newbies, that typing out "potting MIX, MIX, MIX" has become part of my fingertips. I have to tell them that when I'm talking to seasoned growers and we say potting "soil" in the context of container gardening, we all know we really mean potting MIX! LOL!