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Growing a bean tepee ... or a pumpkin tunnel.

Leafy recesses delight children, who see them as forts or playhouses. The hideaways shown here delight gardeners, too, because they create play space without sacrificing ground needed for planting. Both structures are covered with summer vegetables you can plant this month. The tepee at left, in the Anna Smith Children's Garden near Silverdale, Washington, is easiest to make. A straight tree limb, sunk 18 inches into the ground, serves as a center support. Skinny bamboo poles about 9 feet long shore up scarlet runner beans. The poles were spaced roughly 10 inches apart along most of the tepee's perimeter and tied off at the top of the limb. Beans (use pole types) planted this month should cover the structure by early July. The pumpkin tunnel above, at the Gilbert House Children's Museum in Salem, Oregon, supports a harvest of miniature |Jack Be Little' pumpkins. The leaves cover a frame resembling a Conestoga wagon and made from an arched 10-foot-long section of 2-inch-mesh wire fencing. The tunnel itself is 5 feet long--the width of the fencing--and 4 feet tall. To hold the frame in place, the fencing was nailed to two 5-foot-long cedar 4-by-4s sunk horizontally into the ground like railroad tracks along the tunnel's sides. To bolster the sides, 3-foot 1-by-1s were woven vertically into the mesh and driven into the ground at 2 1/2-foot intervals. The pumpkins were started in four peat pots and transplanted to each corner of the tunnel. Seedlings planted now should cover the frame by mid-or late July.
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Date:May 1, 1990
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