18 Jul 2011 No Comments
Over the winter, I took a few classes on low-cost, low-impact gardening. One innovation that caught my eye was the garden tripod. Very versatile in its use, it’s easy to make from inexpensive or recycled wood, and is very portable.
So I made my own, but with a slight variation. The version I saw last winter used a length of bamboo for a cross piece, I designed my poles to be interchangeable as either legs of the tripod or cross-pieces. (Click on any photo for a larger image.)
Once again, I went to my standard cheap board: 12-foot lengths of spruce strapping. Priced at $1.87 each, it doesn’t get much cheaper to buy, or easier to work with. I cut all but a few of my boards at either 7-foot or 6-foot lengths, which resulted in 4 sizes: 12-foot, 7-foot, 6-foot, and 5-foot. (The 5-foot is left over when you cut the 7-foot length.)
Next, I split the boards down the middle of the 3.75″ width, producing 2 sort of square poles out of each length. In effect, each $1.87 length of 12-foot long strapping produced 4 poles, at about 45 cents each.
Then I made 2 marks on one end of each pole, at 5″ and 3″, and drilled 1/4″ holes. On the other end of each pole, I measured 1/2″ and made a mark. I cut 45-degree angles from that mark, to produce a 2-sided point.
From a 100-foot coil of 14 guage wire (about $7.50 at Lowe’s) I measured a bunch of 1-foot long wires. So, each foot-long bit of wire cost about 7.5 cents.
By lining up 3 poles and running the wire through the 5″ hole, then twisting it together, I made a tripod. My net investment per tripod is (3 x .45) + .75, or about $2.10. Add tax, it’s about $2.23.
The pointed opposite ends helped to anchor the poles in the garden soil. Across two tripods, I laid other poles. On some occasions I needed longer poles, so I laid the poles on the ground with the pointed ends out and the hole ends overlapping. I wove a piece of wire through the two sets of holes, then twisted the ends to make them secure. As a result, I could turn 2 7-foot lengths into about 13.5 feet, or a 6-foot and 5-foot length into about 10.5 feet; or any other combination. My average cost for two tripods and two lengths of cross pole was $6.20, tax included. From that investment I can support 9 tomato plants, trellising each plant for 69 cents. (72 cents if you want to count the twine.)
The wire holds the cross poles securely, but they sag in the middle. I could make them more rigid if I ran a couple bolts through the holes. For me it’s not that important, and I keep a bunch of 1-foot wire lengths in my pocket while setting up my garden, which makes it easy and cheap to do what’s needed.
To create an angled trellis for cucumbers I formed tripods from 2 5-foot poles and 1 7-foot pole. I used the long leg to span across the next vegetable row. The result was a tripod that leaned backward across a row of vegetables. I made a climbing trellis for the cucumbers across the “front” face.
To do that, I cut lengths of nylon deer netting ($19.95 for a 100′ x 7′ roll at Lowe’s) to length. By folding over the top and “sewing” it with twine, I created a tunnel through which to feed my cross pole, then laid the whole thing across the tripods.
Here are some photos of applications in my garden: