Castoffs Make an Instant Trellis
I have been thinking about how to build a trellis for the climbing plants I want to grow. Plants like cucumber, climbing beans, some Asian climbing plants and maybe some gourds.
I needed a fairly strong trellis and was thinking that a sheet of concrete reinforcing wire might just do the trick. They are about 6 x 3 metres with 20 x 20 cm squares.
Well, low and behold the concretors doing the driveway on the new house two doors up left some reo and steel in the block next door that is for sale. They didn’t return to get it and the owner had to organise its removal. So I grabbed a sheet before the steel merchant took it.
All the original blocks around me are the quintessential Australian quarter acre blocks or just over 1000 sqm. As they get subdivided and new houses built, the new owners usually put in a new fence. The old fences
have water pipe as their top rail and I have managed to collect a few lengths.The next task was to use the water pipe as uprights. I purchased a star picket driver from The Shade Centre for around $40 and using a step ladder was able to get high enough to drive the three lengths of water pipe around 1.5 mtrs into the ground.
Using gal tie wire I wired the reo to the water pipe uprights and voila, instant trellis. I know the reo will get quite rusty over time, but it will last a few years, and in that time I will figure out the best location for the future trellis.
I have been collecting cardboard for quite a while and used it to cover all the grass below the trellis and covered the cardboard with about 30cm of compost.
The final touch was installing the dripper line. Now all I need to do is plant.
It is taking longer than I planned to build the wicking bed, but I got a lot closer to completion today. The completion is in sight and seeing that I want to plant by the winter equinox, 22 June, I think that it will be achieved.
A hammer stapler helps intstall the plastic liner
There were a couple of items that I was procrastinating about, getting staples for my hammer stapler and getting some old carpet for the base.
The carpet might seem unusual, but I wanted to have a base that would protect the plastic liner. I needed to source some carpet that had been pulled up from houses. After mucking around and looking on Gumtree for free carpet for a week or two, I finally hit upon the idea of going to a carpet shop and seeing if they had any carpet that had been pulled out of houses where they laid new carpet.
Sourcing carpet for the wicking bed build
I strolled into Just Carpets, Virginia, spoke with Darrin and he took me down the back to a big pile of rolled up carpet and said, “Help yourself, take it all if you want.” I loaded four rolls into the car and drove off feeling pleased with the trip.
On Friday, I wrote a list of things I wanted to complete by Sunday
- carpet wicking bed
- plastic lining installed
- plane edges of uprights
- finish sides and tops
A layer of carper was intsalled before the plastic liner
Installing the plastic liner
The rest of the carpet was laid on top of the liner giving it protection when I worked in the bed
I was able to get all the above done.I still have the following to complete before planting:
- finish painting
- install the agpipe and filling spout
- fill with soil and compost and water
- install shade cloth
- install wire for trellising
Painting done, the wicking bed is now ready to fill, then shadecloth
A couple of years ago I used a Silky pole saw to reduce the height of a macadamia in the back yard. It was close to 12 metres high (40ft). I cut the branches into small lengths and stacked it up. I now have a use for it. I will turn this wicking bed into a hugulculture wicking bed. (see this post on hugulculture)
The easiest way to do your watering is to set up a garden watering system on a timer. I know, sounds like hard work, but this is the easy way to water the garden so that it happens automatically without you doing a thing or having to go out when you come home from work and battle the mosquitos at sunset after a particularly hot day.
Dripper Lines make garden watering systems practical
Most people, when they go to the big box hardware store look at the irrigation section and get all stressed about buying the pipe and the fittings and fitting the little spray thingies into the pipe. There is none of that. Instead we use the dripper line, where the holes are already in the pipe and the water drips out, usually at a set rate of 2 litres per minute.
Get the drip rate and do some sums
The first thing to do is to attach a hose to the tap and fill a 10 litre bucket and time how long it takes. In my case it takes 20 seconds. From that we work out the tap flow rate.
10 litres in 20 seconds equals 30 litres in a minute, multiply by 60 minutes (1 hr) and we have a flow of 1800 litres per hour from the tap.
This 1800 litres per hour means that I can work out how many metres of dripper line I can run so that the drip rate is 2 litres per hour from all dripper holes. The dripper line I use has 3 drippers per metre. So if I divide the 1800 by 6, I can run 300 metres of dripper line.
Calculator for dripper lines
Still with me. To make it easier, I have devised a little spreadsheet to work it out. All you need to do is put in the numbers and it will tell you how many metres of dripper line you can run from the tap. The reason I put the tap in is that you will most likely run a hose to the garden and clip it into your dripper system. I haven’t got around to digging a trench for a pipe to the garden yet.
To down load the spreadsheet, go here and enter your email address. You will also receive an email when I have made a new post.
Putting your garden watering system together
Diagram of the garden watering system layout
I use a 19mm black poly pipe for the header of my system. The header is where the dripper line is connected to. I have inserted a tap at a lot of the dripper lines, but so far haven’t needed to adjust the watering for various crops.
Watering timers are simple, robust and easy to use
To automate the process a timer is required. They are so cheap these days and reliable that every garden should have one. The one you see pictured is simple to operate, can be programmed to water daily, twice daily or monthly. The combinations are endless and easy to work out. I runs on a couple of batteries that have been there for over 12 months. If it is raining, I just turn the water off. The timer keeps opening and closing the valve to the presest times, but no water goes through.
I put a splitter on the tap. After getting two cheap ones that leaked, I finally purchased a good brass one that hasn’t been a problem so far.
Hose Connection to garden watering system
Hose connected to header pipe
A hose runs from the timer to the header pipe of the watering system. The header pipe is 19mm diameter and the dripper lines are 12mm diameter. If I get around to putting a line underground to the watering system I will make that 19mm as well. I have extended my watering system to another bed. The tap has enough water flow to water both garden beds.
By adding taps you can reduce water to areas
To connect the dripper lines to theheader pipe, cut the header pipe at the dripper line position, insert a 19mm T piece with a 12mm T outlet and push the dripper line onto the 12mm outlet. If you want to place a tap in the line add a 50mm piece of 12mm pipe with the tap attached.
Placing mulch on top of the dripper line is a benefit as it stops evaporation. It doesn’t harm the dripper lines.
I like growing Soy Beans. Don’t ask me why as I have no real reason to. I think it stems from my days on a sugar cane farm where we grew it as a soil conditioning crop which made the cane grow gang busters when planted after soybeans.
A few more weeks needed for the soy beans to dry to the right moisture content
I grow them in any new gardening bed as the first crop. This year I had a new bed that I made by solarising the weeds with black plastic for 12 months and then covering with a layer of big cardboard boxes I had been collection and then covering with 30cm of compost. I also threw in some crusher dust and lime. Soy beans love lime.
Final drying after harvesting
To harvest them I cut them off at ground level, leaving the root system in the ground. Hopefully the rhizobia nitrogen fixing bacteria will survive in the root nodules until another crop they like is growing. Now I have to find a use for the beans.
My answer to a use for the soy beans is soy milk. Another use is green soy beans as an entree, see this link for eating green soy beans Soy Beans and Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria
Where to get Soy beans, if you don’t grow your own
Available at Asian Supermarkets
If you don’t want to grow your own soy beans, you can buy them at Asian grocery stores. They are not expensive, around $4 for 1 kilo. The soy beans that you use are white or cream in colour and you only need a cup full to make around 1.5 litres
Traditional Taiwanese method for making soy milk
You will need a blender, a big pot, soy beans, a deep bowl, a stirring spoon and a muslin or filter bag.
Place the beans in the deep bowl, cover with water and soak the beans for 6 – 8 hours.
Soy beans with water covering ready for 8 hours soaking and after soaking
How to know when your beans are ready for making soy milk
These beans are ready for making soy milk
To test whether your beans have soaked long enough, dig into one with a finger or thumb nail. If you can split it, your beans are ready for the bender.
The beans expand to nearly double the size after soaking.
Add equal quantities of beans and water to the blender and run it for a couple of minutes.
If the blender seems to have trouble moving the paste, stop the blender and add some more water and stir it up with a spoon. Blend again and then strain into the big pot. Place the pulp back into the blender and add the same initial amount of water and reblend.
Bring the strained soy milk to the boil slowly, stirring constantly so that you don’t burn the milk. A big pot is helpful here, because like cow’s milk, it will foam when about to boil and expand to overflow a small pot.
Once it has boiled, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Again you need to stir it so that it doesn’t burn.
After 30 minutes remove the heat, add some sugar if you need it, or stevia if you have it, or try some honey. We started with 2 small cups of beans and ended with 1.8 litres of soy milk. If you have ever been to a Taiwanese breakfast shop and tasted their soy milk you will probably agree that the taste is completely different to the cardboard flavoured product you purchase in supermarkets.