Constructing Teepees

Teepees are an ancient tool in the farmer toolbelt. They’ve been used for centuries by various cultures to grow vining vegetables such as beans, peas, and cucumbers. You can find elaborate images of modern gardening teepees all over the web…for me, it was a practical use of material the land provided.

20170217_teepees01This is how the field looked when I started work on the property last fall. Volunteer trees (trees that sprout from naturally fallen seeds from nearby trees) have thrived in the rich soil loaded with miniature horse manure. Some were minor saplings while others were well established trees far taller than I. Using hand sheers, clippers, and a pole saw I worked to clear ground in anticipation of this spring’s planting. Much of the brush was simply burned (my chickens love the charcoal!) while other ended up as the starting fodder for a large compost pile. Select branches/trunks were saved to build some teepees.

20170217_teepees02I purposely left forked branches and sturdy lower limbs on the large lengths of natural wood. They help hold the teepee legs together while I check for height – I want at least 5 feet tall. Tops are secured with by the thin wire that holds wire fencing rolls tight – super secure, easy to wind through the three tops, invisible unless you’re right in front of it. I buried the bottoms about a foot below ground for added stability.

Once the row is complete I’ll wrap the teepees in old chicken wire – the stuff too broken to remain on the goat run fence – so the vine tendrils have plenty of area to grow. I left space between the goat run and the teepees for the wheelbarrow, which will be handy come harvest time. I’m quite happy with the look of these teepees and excited to see green things growing in just a few weeks!

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