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Bean Tipi Rising

December 12, 2013 | Gardening, Kitchen Garden, Milkwood Farm, Urban Permaculture | 14 comments | Author:

bean tipi

Like everyone else I know, we’ve been meaning to make one of these for years. And this was the Spring we finally got around to erecting the inaugural Milkwood bean tipi! Huzzah. 

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Incase you’re not up with the whole bean tipi thing, the idea is that the beans grow up the struts of the tipi and in doing so create a gorgeous green cubby for the little people of the household.

And you get beans! Or the kids do, at anyrate.

Is there anything better than watching a little kid munch on a fresh bean as they sit, grinning, in their leafy garden playhouse?

The story of this bean tipi actually starts last Autumn, when we saved seed from last season’s scarlet runner and blue lake beans, with intent to tipi, next Spring…

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Then, over winter, we made our plans. Mostly, our plans consisted of making a tipi that would not fall down. And that would have other flowers around it.

Our other criteria was to ensure that the design and materials were simple enough (read: already on-farm in one of our many useful scraps/junk piles) that the bean tipi would actually get built this year.

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As chief bean tipi engineer, Nick did a comprehensive  and structurally sound job, as he always does on such things. Love that guy.

First of all, Nick and Ashar did a test run – to see how wide the circle could be given our available scrap bamboo, and how high the tipi would be as result. Then, it was building time.

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The bean tipi is now off and growing, guarded by a wombat skull on a stick.

I am not sure about the wombat skull part, but Ashar assured me it was essential, for protection.

And it’s his bean tipi, all said and done.

So welcome, oh ghost wombat. May our beans grow high under your watchful gaze.

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The structure is sound and the Summer is long. Hopefully we’ll be in shady-tipi-land by new year’s day.

Around the clay pipes containing the beans, we planted hardy herbs and lots of calendula. It’s all watered regularly, with the addition of diluted worm juice. Let’s see what happens.

Are you building a bean tipi this year? How is yours going?

>> Further posts about Bean Tipii (that’s the plural)

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  • Thom Foote December 12, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply

    I love it! Talk about stacked uses. The clay tiles serve as anchors, planters and warmers. This is for me. I will be using ponderosa pine saplings as I have a lot of those already cut. Do you ever plant flowering vines with the beans?

  • Thom Foote December 12, 2013 at 8:46 am | Reply

    As an addendum, I bet that lowest horizontal support black piping could be attached to a drip system with a shutoff valve with emitters positioned above each of plant.

  • craigfeuerherdt December 12, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply

    Reblogged this on The Violet Verge and commented:
    I reckon my boys would be in for a few of these and they’ll fill in a bit of under-utilised space as well

  • narf77 December 12, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply

    Love it! No small kids here but the dogs would love to lay in the shade (and we lose less beans that way ;) ). Cheers for the heads up on how to get one going. Going to do this ASAP Northern Tassie style :)

  • Christine December 12, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply

    One of my best memories from childhood is eating beans right off the vine. What a great idea!

  • unionhomestead December 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Reply

    This has got to be a definite project for the Homestead next year! Sounds like the perfect place to pass some time hiding from the chores :)

  • Kelly Lus December 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply

    Hi Kirsten,
    I built a bean tipi on one of my garden beds for my son Patrick. We planted the Scarlett runner seeds you shared with us when our garden group came to visit milkwood in april. It’s growing really well and Patrick loves playing under it with a bucket of water making creeks and rivers and mud pies. Thanks for the great idea!

    1. milkwoodkirsten December 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply

      Hey Kelly! That’s awesome :) is yours shady yet? Still waiting here :)

  • Kelly Lus December 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Reply

    Beans are only covering about a quarter of the way up so not yet, but I have fruit trees lining the fence near where I put it so I get morning shade from them which is good. :)

  • […] and lastly, a note that the bean tipi has reached it’s zenith – on three sides, anyway. Best dragon catcher den […]

  • […] To think that only 3 months ago this bean tipi was but a hopeful stick construction… […]

  • Anna Mordechai March 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Reply

    What exactly are those cylindrical clay tiles? i have never seen anything like them, am trying to find something similar to use but am coming up with nothing… i am crazy inspired to build this and now is the correct time for our area!

    1. Kirsten March 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Reply

      Anna they were cylindrical (tho hexagonal) sections of clay pipe… we got them at a clearance sale, i think they’re quite old, never really seen others like it. you could just start with a raised brick bed tho i rekon? x

      1. Anna March 31, 2014 at 7:03 am | Reply

        I scored some pcs of plastic pipe dumped in a field on my way to work – not pretty like yours but at least recycling and functional (and free!), plus i want to get this structure up pronto (ur post really inspired me!) i figure if i plant lots of pretty perrenisls around them they wont show… Thanks again for the motivation ur blog always provides!


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