Friday, April 4, 2014

Swingset Trellis

For a long time I have wanted to grow gourds; specifically gourds that I could use for something after the drying process.  So, last year I bought and started a packet of Bird House Gourds.
I didn't have a great yeild in the plants that survived the weather and the chickens periodically finding them on the porch.  But I did end up with enough plants to do something with.
And the next thing I had to decide was how and where was I going to grow them where they could climb and thrive all summer.
This year I bought a packet of Bushel Gourds from Everwilde Farms.  I'm sure you could use any climbing plant on a trellis like this... think green pole beans, other beans, peas, cucumbers, some squashes, climbing flowers, etc.
I love that this could be used anywher; you could do it in a small yard, or even with a smaller A frame over a pot on a porch!  Enjoy!  Use the space you have to grow your own food or other useful items!
Materials Needed:
-1 to 2 inch screws {I just used some sheetrock screws}
-aluminum wire {I don't know the gauge of the stuff I used but I would compare it to the size of angel hair pasta.}
-drill with a bit that fits the screws you're using
-gourd or other climbing plants
-wooden swingset or other wood open A frame
1. Drill screws into the ouside of the swingset frame, about 1 1/2 inch from the inside of the frame.  But DO NOT drill them all the way in; leave just enough space between the screw head and the wood to wrap the wire.
I spaced the screws approximately 6 inches apart;
although I ended up only using everyother one,
so I could have screwed them in about every 12 inches.
2. Twist the starting end of the wire to one of the bottom screws; twist well.
3. Zig-zag the wire back and forth from screw to screw, pulling a tight as you can at each screw, until you reach the top.  
*You want them to be taut, so they'll hold up the climbers. 
4. Once you reach the top wrap and twist the wire to secure it.  
{I was planning to zig-zag back down to the bottom, but I ran out of wire and the single zig-zag worked perfectly.} 
This is what my finished swingset trellis looked like...
5. Now take some time to plant the climbing plants.  Place them evenly.  I ended up with 5 plants total.
Now if you have chickens or other animals that love fresh dirt you may want to protect the plants in some way.  
My chickens liked to dig their dirt baths right next to the plants; I placed some larger rocks on either side of the stems of the plants and that solved it.
Now, sit back and relax and watch your plants grow.  
TIP: You may have to occasionally train them to the wire in the begining.  Once they are going well, they'll do it on their own.
As the summer goes on the plants grow and grow!
And eventually the beautiful flowers begin to turn into georgous gourds...
At the end of the summer some of the lower leaves may begin to brown and fall off, because they are shaded more; but thats fine since the plants are now getting all of their sunlight from the outside and top.
The kids loved swinging on the swing set and watching the gourds grow!
Don't worry about the kids swinging and playing on the swingset; the plants vines should be strong enough to withstand the movement from the wind and weather.
Our gourd trellis ended up being a great place for shade.  Almost like a fort!  
Enjoy and let me know if you try this and what you think!

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1 comment:

  1. This is so neat. Thanks for the idea and all of the pictures. I'm going to do this, but with pole beans in a pot. I'm looking forward to the girls climbing in their club house and picking their green beans. I have a dog that likes to dig, so mine has to grow in a pot.


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