Part of the gardening cycle for me each year is to create the ideal support for pole beans and tomatoes. In the past I have used fence posts, twine, limbs trimmed from trees and bushes, wire tomato rings, salvaged bed frames, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten.

Last year’s device was a framework of steel fence posts with horizontal wooden members (2 by 2’s and 1 by 2’s) held at appropriate heights by ‘U’ bolts. This worked but didn’t have the feeling of elegance that I sought. Considering that I used a bed frame as a trellis for peas that year, I suppose “elegance” isn’t exactly the right word. The bed frame did provide a measure of decadence and I abandoned the idea of using highly visible salvaged items in the front yard garden. The hedge isn’t high enough to hide them.

I have a 28-foot row with seven different varieties of beans, the ones I planted with the Grandkids. Richard and I just finished putting up this year’s iteration of a bean trellis. The construction is a series of 7 1/2 foot steel fence posts with panels of light-weight fencing attached by ‘T’ clips. The panels are 6 feet high. We aligned the posts along the same string that we used to plant the double row of beans. It’s a pretty good trellis, although even though it has yet to be touched by a bean vine I’m already making plans to improve it.

Tomatoes are considerably heavier than beans and will require something sturdier for adequate support. The tomato plants are a foot high thus far and it won’t be long before they will be looking for some support. I intend to use cattle panels for the tomatoes. Cattle panels are usually about 4 feet wide by 16 feet long, way too much length to fit in my pickup truck.

I found the panels at the local Fleet Farm store, same place where I got the fencing for the beans. The clerk inside said that they didn’t have any tool out in the yard to cut the cattle panels for me so I didn’t buy any. It’s not that I didn’t trust the inside clerk but the guys in the yard outside were so generally friendly that I asked them if they had a bolt cutter. Yep, and they’d be happy to cut the panels for me.

In this instance it looks like buying new is better than cobbling together old and salvaged. Not my usual philosophy. It is my usual philosophy to not believe everything I hear, particularly when it comes from the inside sales guy rather than from the guy out in the yard with the bolt cutter.