Raised garden beds and PVC trellis

Now that the weather is (more or less) consistently warm, we are making progress on our garden. When we moved in, there was really no garden space at all, so we have a lot of work to do. We decided on raised beds since we thought they would keep both weeds and pests down and be easier overall. A few weeks ago we constructed two 3′ x 6′ cedar garden beds, anchored at the corners by 4 x 4s that we sunk into the ground for stability. Then we filled them up with topsoil.

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We made a list of which vegetables to plant. Tomatoes were at the top of my list. We decided to plant tomatoes in containers so as not to take up too much space in the boxes. I’d also had great success planting tomatoes in containers in the past. But tomatoes need support, and the tomato cages I purchased last time weren’t cutting it. After doing some research on how to make an easy, durable, and inexpensive tomato support, I decided on PVC pipe. We went with 3/4-inch pipe in 5-foot lengths. We wanted to go a bit taller, but ultimately decided to choose the length that would fit in the car, thinking that we can add on if necessary. After some experimentation, we ended up making a 5′ x 5′ by 1.25′ support that would fit in the space between a garden box and our shed while leaving enough space to walk.

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Before we assembled the trellis, J drilled holes at regular intervals so we could attach twine. We set it up so that one side can support peas and beans grown directly in the garden box and the opposite side could support the tomatoes in containers. We used a rubber mallet to drive the ends of the pipe into the ground and I attached the front side of the trellis to the box using copper pipe straps. The straps are slightly too small, but that’s okay because they hold the PVC really tightly.

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I used a tapestry needle to thread polyester twine through the holes in the PVC pipe. I attached the vertical rows to the garden box using screws and washers, and J knotted the ends because I am terrible at knots. We didn’t fully string the tomato side because the tomatoes won’t be there permanently until mid-May, after the last frost. Once we put them in place, I will string the trellis around them.

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We didn’t glue the PVC together because we want to make sure the design works. I really like the flexibility of the PVC design–it won’t be too difficult to add to it later if we want. Also, it will be simple to add more twine if necessary. It definitely seems sturdier than those wire tomato cages, but we’ll see. And, best of all, it cost less than $30.

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