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Waiting to be Reborn as Pole Bean Pots – Oh My Aching Back! 

I’ve noticed that as I get older, I’m much more interested (most of the time) in keeping things simple than I was in my younger days.  In other words, I’m more inclined to look for the easiest way to do something.  It’s no surprise that this inclination is spreading over into my world of gardening.

 

 

The Pole Bean Pot Components:  Fencing to the left is used to fashion a trellis that will sit inside the pot along with half of a 55-gallon barrel covered with Eco-Cloth.

 Sometimes I forget to “keep it simple” and the old KISS formula.

My inventive monkey-mind sometimes makes more work than may be necessary for me and for others (as Charlie would be the first to confirm).

For example, container gardening affords urban families a great opportunity to grow edibles in a small space.   To help educate folks in my community to take full advantage of this, I’m working with members of Loving Garland Green in partnership with the Good Samaritans of Garland to create a pole bean garden at the Good Samaritan house here in Garland—both as a source of fresh produce for their clients as well as to teach folks how growing some of the edibles they eat can be fun, healthy and can also even save money.

I designed containers by cutting 55 gallon food-grade barrels in half, drilling holes in the bottom of each half, covering the barrels with eco fabric, and constructing a trellis out of wire fencing. 

(We acquired 8 barrels for free.  The eco fabric was also free as we picked that up from the Byron Nelson Charity tournament last year.  The soil, since we obtain it from Mesquite and bring it back in our truck will cost about $20 for this project.  Thus sixteen 27-gallon pots will cost nothing.  The fencing for the wire trellis will cost $40. )

At retail the sixteen 27-gallon pots alone would cost $480 and the soil $192 would total $672.  Adding the trellis, even if we made it from fencing, would bring the total to $712.  Compare $712 to $60 spent and you can easily see the cost-effectiveness of this project. 

BUT would people currently having access to limited resources be able to duplicate it?  No, of course not.  Not everyone has the power tools or the skill know-how to cut the barrels in half or drill the holes in the bottom of the barrels. Not everyone has a ¾ ton truck to pick up the 55 gallon barrels or the 3 cubic yards of compost from Mesquite for $20.

 

We don’t all have access to the same resources.

Access to resources is a fact of life that many of us need to stop and consider before we criticize some folk’s lack of ability or enterprise to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”  Generally speaking, the more wealth a person has, the more access they have to more resources.  However, American ingenuity and “McGivering it” can provide us with increased leverage for achieving our goals.

Note:  That’s one of the things I like about Maker Spaces.  They provide access to tools and shared knowledge that as an individual, a citizen might not have. Maker spaces help provide for a democratic expansion of equal opportunity by providing learning experiences through shared resources in a community.

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A SIMPLER WAY IS ALMOST ALWAYS OUT THERE

After spending most of yesterday washing out barrels, drilling holes and cutting the cloth to cover them, I carried my old aching muscles to bed thinking:  “There has to be an easier way.”

This morning it came to me, as most of my ideas, just a few moments after I awakened.

 

THE TIGHTWAD’S POLE BEAN GARDEN

Of course, this solution will only work for people who are fortunate enough to have a yard.

1.  Buy or find three seven-foot lengths of PVC pipe or some other sturdy 7-foot pole (but don’t take some family member or your roommate’s fishing pole).  [If you buy 3 new 1.5 inch PVC pipes you can expect to pay about $15 total.]

2.  Purchase one bag 1.5 cubic feet garden soil [$6]

3. Purchase one package of Kentucky Wonder pole bean seeds.  {$2.50)

Note:  If you don’t have a shovel, borrow one from your neighbor.

            1) Dig down about 1.5 feet

2) Stick one of the poles in the center and cover back with the soil from the hole.

3) Put about 1/3 of the sack of garden soil on top.

4) Plant the seeds about four inches out from the pole (about seeds)

REPEAT steps 1-4 for each pole, spacing poles about 1.5 feet apart.

Make sure and keep soil moist—not soaked—until beans germinate.  After that, water in the mornings if the leaves look a little droopy.

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 Pole beans are tough and they are great producers as long as you harvest them on a regular basis.  In our North Texas area they will produce from June up to the first frost although production does slack off a little in late July and August.  It will pick right back up again in September.

The average price per pound for fresh Green Beans is $2.14 a pound.  Source: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/fruit-and-vegetable-prices

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Note:  To recoup the investment of $23.50 for the "Tightwad's Pole Green Bean Garden", the gardener would only need to harvest 12 pounds of beans.  Believe me, you are likely to get more than 25 pounds from a three-pole garden—probably enough to share with your neighbor.  AND more importantly, they will taste much better than any you’ll purchase in the grocery store.

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