Experimental Bamboo/Inner-Tube Cucumber Trellis

Continuing with our Victory Garden series, we offer this trellis design to increase your vine crop production in a small area. Admittedly, what you see pictured here will never be on Home Depot's inventory; and you'll never see it in one of those luxurious suburban dream garden magazine spreads. That's because the trellis is pure function, held together at the base by the earth itself. But the virtues are many. First is simplicity. Only two materials are used: 6 bamboo upright poles and two pieces of bicycle inner tube form the structure; four more diagonal poles are added to help the plants climb. The bamboo poles were purchased for about 20 cents each in bulk, and will last 5 years or more if you put them away at season's end. The bicycle inner tubes were got from the repair shop waste basket and cut into segments with a knife. The second virtue is design for rapid assembly and rapid disassembly. Experienced gardeners know that at year's end they'll be busy putting the harvest by, the weather can be nasty, and we're about "gardened out." So anything that makes clearing debris and putting away equipment easy is going to be much appreciated. Because there's no tying of twine, you don't even have to cut it away when you're done.Here's the plan.

Turn over and rake your soil. Then plant your vines per the usual method. Shown here is a 4 inch high container "mound" planting of cucumber vines. You can skip the container and just make a mound like it says on the seed package.

While the soil is still very loose, insert four bamboo poles into the ground in a square that encompasses the planted area. They must be at least 5 inches in. More is better. Try to get them even. Now add another pair, one each on two opposing faces of the square. This middle pair is to allow pole "weaving."

Now slip an inner-tube segment over the top end of one pole and then another, using it to pair them together, teepee style, like in the photo. You might need several tube types to get the right fit per pole pair. If the fit is loose, just insert a bit of wood or piece of bamboo shard in between the pole and the tube opening. You can see done that in the first photo.

Now "weave" in some more uprights in a diagonal pattern, and insert their butt ends into the soil a bit also. No cross members were used on this design, although with some vine types that may be adviseable.

The alternative approach would be to erect the trellis with two primary faces, and then plant two varieties of vine, one in front of each face. Your choice. Experiment. See what happens. That's the fun of gardening.

At year's end the sun will have destroyed the inner tube segments so you'll toss them and put the poles back in storage.

Note: if you live in a very windy area, put several trellises in a cluster, not a line. Use tube strips to tie latteral bamboo poles across the tops of trellises. Because the poles are 8 feet high you will be able to walk beneath this superstructure.