trellis question and request for suggestions

dowbright(z6 in Missouri)June 12, 2014

I read this in an Amazon review:

------Trellis for pole beans/tomatoes: Q: What is the best option for trellises on a budget? Jan 7, 2012

A: If you want a cheap, strong trellis, make one using electrical conduit and rebar. All you'll need to buy is the conduit, a couple of corners, and the rebar to pound into the ground. Add some netting, and you're good to go.------

My question is, what do they mean by "a couple of corners?" And does it have to be "electrical conduit?" I don't really understand the directions at all. (Clueless unhandiwoman.)

What is YOUR favorite way to make a trellis? I don't even understand this one! But I want it pretty strong. We have gusty winds by the lake here. Thank you!

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catherinet(5 IN)

I posted this pic about a week ago, but I'll post it here so you can see what my electrical conduit bean trellises look like. By "corners" they mean there are little metal corners you can buy to attach the vertical pipes to the top horizontal one. Around 3'-4' wide seems to be a good width and still be stable.

You need a hacksaw to cut the pipes to the sizes that you want. You can use some netting, but what I use is panels of concrete reinforcing wire. Menards sells it in big rolls, or smaller panels.........which is what I got. Then I attached it to the piping with bungee cords.

You can push the pipes into the ground, but to make it much more stable, I got some 3' green metal stakes and pounded them into the ground so that the pipe was nestled right into the groove on the metal stake. Then I bungee'd the 2 together.
Sorry if this is confusing. If you have more questions, ask away!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:23PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Conduit pipe is cheap metal pipe (used to house electrical wiring) available at the hardware store - much cheaper than plumbing pipe - I got 10' lengths of 3/4" pipe for like $3. If you ask for "conduit" the folks at the hardware store can take you to the right place. The "corners" are metal fittings that enable you to attach two pieces of pipe together at a right angle - the folks there will be able to show you where these are also. Unfortunately those are the weirdly expensive parts - mine were like $6 a pop yikes. The straight fittings are cheaper - but then you need a pipe bender and I did the math and decided it ended up being comparable and then I didn't have to worry about bending the pipe crooked. (I know people say its very easy - but I was in a hurry to get out of the big box store and get 'er done so that's how it went) I was also only building two trellises.

As for the rebar - my understanding is that rebar is harder to cut than pipe (I used a hacksaw for metal to cut my pipe down) - and I have mine attached to the posts of my raised bed, but I have also pounded 1/2" conduit into the ground to hold up a different trellis so would say that part may be unnecessary - though I will defer to others on that one.

Also there have been many discussions on how to skip the pricey corners to save money - and maybe others will have a good suggestion. It depends on what you mean by "cheap" - My trellises will last many many years so I amortized in my mind and moved on. ;)

Link to the "corner" piece like I used below...

Here is a link that might be useful: Conduit corner

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:25PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Here's a pic of a corner. I think there might be a few different versions of it too.

Here is a link that might be useful: corners

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:28PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Ah we were typing at the same time it seems catherinet. ;) is that a swing set bean trellis on the right??? I love that!! and yes my conduit trellises look almost identical - I used the other corner fitting and now can't remember why - maybe they didn't have enough of them or something. I don't think it matters. The others might be cheaper...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:31PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

LOL Slowjane......we were writing at the same time.

I think the rebar is what you're supposed to (maybe according to the review she read) pound into the ground, and then feed the pipe over it. But I found that to be much too difficult, since it was hard for me to get the sides even. So that's why I went with 3' green metal stakes. It works perfectly for me.

I leave my trellises out all winter and I expect them to outlive me.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:32PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

jinx! again! (okay stopping now) ;)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:34PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

hahaha Slowjane.........we were writing at the same time again!

Yes, that's my kids' old swingset. I'm sooooo glad I didn't get rid of it, like I had initially planned, 'cause I use it for my cucumbers, and it works great! Plus, a little house wren comes back every year and builds a nest in that middle tube!
I have it lined with more of the concrete reinforcing wire. I love that stuff! All my tomato cages are made out of that stuff too.
I wonder if we're writing at the same time again. hahaha

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:35PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

P.S. I've often said that if anything happened to that swingset, I'd go out and buy another one for the garden. I grow the cucs up one side, snow peas on the ends, and then on the ground under it, I plant peppers and some bush beans.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:39PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Too funny! And neat reuse of the swingset. I am using jute string - winding one each around my tomatoes, beans, cucumbers as they grow - well, cucumbers and beans found their strings and don't need help now - but I may try that wire next year - seems like it might be simpler in the end. A few ways to go on that dowbright.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:43PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi slowjane!

I used jute for a couple years, and sometimes it would break, and it wouldn't last through the winter, so I'd have to cut it down.
You really should try the concrete reinforcing wire. It rusts, but who cares? I was wanting something a little lighter, like utility wire, but I wanted something with holes in it that I could get my hand through. I guess that's not real important, except for something like tomatoes.
I believe Menards sells 4x8' panels of the wire, which works well.......or you could trim it to fit your trellis.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:54PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Interesting - I'm in Los Angeles so I wonder if it will last longer - or not as long given year round sunshine. I guess we shall see! Rust is okay - maybe even would look cool. I was tempted to buy the skinny copper piping for my trellis out of sheer vanity, imagining the patina that it would acquire over time. My garden is small enough for vanity. ;) But my practical self won out... maybe not for the better!

How do you attach the wire to the trellis?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 3:16PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Well, as I mentioned in another thread here, I'm not into aesthetics.......just practicality. I use small bungee cords. Yes, they wear out in a couple years. I could probably use the twine that comes with the bales of straw I get. But the bungees are more versatile and flexible.
With all the copper theft going on, if you used it, you might look out one morning and your trellis is gone! ;)

Dowbright..........I hope you didn't mind slowjane and I getting a little carried away! :) Hopefully, we've given you a couple ideas. It really shouldn't cost much.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:39PM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

I made the following free standing trellis out of 3/4" EMT that was slipped over rebar (3-4 ft) that was pounded into the ground. We have clay soil so the only thing that would penetrate the soil to any depth was the rebar. It is very sturdy. When the nylon net trellis wears out I plan to replace it with cattle panels.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:27PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

yolos.......you might consider using concrete reinforcing wire. It's so much lighter than cattle panels. (Honest, I don't sell the stuff......I just really like it!) haha

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:54PM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

Thanks for the suggestion, but the concrete reinforcing wire rusts real bad and I would rather not have rusty looking trellises. My garden has become a work or art for me and I enjoy just strolling thru the raised beds admiring the structures and plants. The actual growing part is second to the artful appearance and pleasure I feel when walking thru the garden. I used to always use the concrete reinforcing wire as a trellis for tomatoes so I know it is sturdy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:44PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

Electrical conduit does bend without a spendy conduit bender. One of my trellises is made with 2 pieces bent at a right angle. Then I only need a much cheaper straight connector. The trick is to take a rock or pipe or hammer and dent the conduit. Then 1/2" can be bent pretty easily by hand (I step on half and pull the other half), or 3/4" is a bit tougher, but find a pole to help with leverage (wrap around). In a separate life, I am a balloon artist and we use EMT conduit for framing. I often bend to shape, and very rarely use a bender. A small rotary pipe cutter easily cuts conduit, and is cheap. They look like a "C" clamp, with a small cutting wheel. You score in, then tighten, score, then tighten...until it cuts through.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:58PM
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loribee2(CA 9)

I use t-posts and rabbit fencing. Rabbit fencing is similar to cattle panels, but the holes are smaller and it comes in a roll (i.e. you can get it in your car if you don't have a truck). None of it rusts, and it's pretty economical. I think the 8' t-posts were about $6 each at Tractor Supply. Forget what a roll of rabbit fencing was, but it wasn't costly, and I still have quite a bit left for more trellises. These trellises are about 3 years old, and I leave them up year-round.

I use this to trellis everything: Pole beans, indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, anything that climbs. I like the hole size because it's small enough that the plants climb without much help, but not so small that it's difficult to pull it all off of the wire at the end of the season. (I tried to pull peas off chicken wire one year. Never again!)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 12:31AM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

Loribee, are the openings in the rabbit fencing big enough to get your hand thru the fence. I am using nylon trellis because, as you said, the cattle panels are too big to fit in anything but a truck. Here is another trellis for rattlesnake beans. I need a wide enough opening to get my hands into the middle trellis.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 2:57PM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Openings in rabbit fencing are 2" X 4". I can get my hand through, but you can't really pull anything back through it, like tomatoes. They would only be suitable for trellises that are one thickness deep or arches, etc.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:31PM
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