Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The vegetable garden is probably the focal point of the backyard. It is both ornamental and functional. I think all gardens should be both and it really isn't a difficult thing to do.

I have posted pictures of my A-frames before, but never disclosed the plan or story. So here it is. When I first retired and began intensively gardening I had this vision of a wooden trellis with decorative poles sticking up in the vegetable garden. The decorative poles are part of the A-frame. Can you see them? Unfortunately, I am not real quick when it comes to visualizing things. I got the idea for the decorative poles from a magazine picture. What I did not know was that those poles were permanently placed in the garden. I did not want this for my garden.

So I initially created the most stupidest trellis just so I could have decorative poles sticking up in my garden. It consisted of the two decorative poles, some 2x2s, and a string trellis. The trellis looked great, and even kind of worked, but only when nothing was growing on it. The stand was a 2x4 base which was supposed to keep the trellis upright. It was fashioned kind of like a hat rack. Not too stable at all. Nope. It blew over all the time, and I finally got sick of it. Like I said, I am not always the sharpest tool in the shed.

An A-frame was the solution. There is no way this baby is going anywhere. I used the following materials:
a) Two decorative poles (about $20 for both at Lowes)
b) 4 total 2x4s (for bracing the top and bottom of the end pieces together (2) and to join to the decorative poles to make the frame)
c) 1/2" carriage bolts (2) [They need to be long enough to fit thru both the decorative pole and a 2x4]
d) 8 1/2" washers (4 per pole for a total of 8 per A-frame)
e) Concrete reinforcing wire, but a string trellis or any type of fencing will work too.

I stood one of the two decorative poles up in a bed (most all of the beds are the same width so that was not an issue), and held a 2x4 next to it to mark for the hole. This is an important step to be sure you get the right angle for your beds and use. I cut the 2x4s to size, leaving a bit of excess for a decorative purpose, drilled the holes through the decorative poles and 2x4s, placed one washer on the carriage bolt, stuck it through the decorative pole, placed two more washers (so the two poles would move freely and fold up easily), put the 2x4 on, placed on the last washer, and finger tightened the nut. That takes care of the two end pieces.

I next determined the length of the trellis. I made three A-frames for my garden. Some of my beds are long, and some are short. I wanted the flexibility to move the trellises around into any bed. I can also mix and match the trellis if desired. You don't want the trellis so long you can't handle moving them easily. I cut two more 2x4s to length and nailed them onto the top and bottom of the end pieces horizontally. Now the basic frame is complete.

I next added the concrete reinforcing wire. This stuff is worth its weight in gold to the home gardener. It has so many uses and if you are smart and lucky, you can find it for next to nothing. I cut the wire to length and attached it to the frame with cable ties. On one of the A-frames I used regular galvanized fencing wire since I am out of concrete reinforcing wire. It will work fine but the holes are a bit smaller. I prefer the large holes of the concrete reinforcing wires since I can reach through them easily. Any twining vegetables you grow on these A-frames will most likely hang down through the holes. You can easily harvest the vegetables on the underside without reaching through any holes.

My frames are stained but that is not a necessary step. I prefer stained wood to help dissuade the carpenter bees and to protect the wood from the elements. If you do stain your trellis, it is much easier to do so before you build the A-frame.

Gourds and cucumbers will happily grow along these trellises all summer. Growing these vining vegetables vertically saves a lot of room in the garden, makes harvesting easier, and keeps the fruit much neater, straighter and easier to see. You can also grow beans and peas on them. Just about any vining vegetable will love these A-frames and they are not blowing over in the winds! If you do try out the A-frames, let me know how they work for you.

in the garden....


  1. What a great idea. We are building a chicken coop this week. We are going to have chickens...and fresh eggs.

  2. Good idea! I may have to build one of these for my cucumbers next year. They are taking over!

  3. Dawn-Thanks and good morning.

    Jillybean-You are so lucky! I would love to have chickens and free eggs. Someday. But not now, too many other critters. Maybe you can document the building of the chicken coop in a post? Would love to see it.

    Dave, The A frame saves a lot of space. It works great so far and I have gourds winding their way up it. A good winter project for sure.

  4. Hi Tina, you have good ideas. I struggle with trellising. I have several high rise disasters currently. I'm printing out your post to see how it can be incorporated into my garden.

  5. Thanks Marnie! I appreciate that. These work so great-no blowing over. I know the feeling of disasters-trust me. It can be difficult picking up a trellis heavily loaded.

  6. How helpful to have all the ingredients and a recipe. That sounds like a good use of space. Maybe my son could try that as a project when we get home.

  7. Good morning to all my great cyber world friends.

    Sounds like a great way to grow the vining veggies to me. Just be careful not to place it where other veggies will be shaded from it. I would'nt mind having a couple of them in the back of the veggie garden.

    I forgot to say yesterday but I had an email from Lola. She was on her trip and had a great time so hopefully she will join us again soon.

  8. Sarah, Yes it would be a super easy and fun project for a teenager.

    Mom, Good morning! I too heard from Lola. Sounds like she had an exciting trip. I should have said to make sure to orient the trellises where they will work best for you and not shade crops that need a bunch of sun. On one I want it to shade the cool season crops whereas on the other the opposite is true. I hope the weather is great up there. It is OUTSTANDING down here for June. Feels like Maine in the summertime. Just about 75 and no humidity. Unheard of for here. ttyl

  9. Arggg, I just did something to loose my long comment. argggggg...

    Neat idea on the A-frame Tina! I am using the tomato stakes we brought back from Germany with us. They are metal or something like that and are swirls. You can stake tomatoes without tying them as you just place the plant around the swirl as it grows upward! We are using them for the cucumber also and they are working well for them. Have them by the gourds and beans for when they are ready to climb....

    Glad Lola had fun on her trip. Cant wait to hear about it...

    We use to get fresh chicken eggs from a neighbor whose kids had chickens. One dollar for a dozen, Great price! They moved and so did their chickens. arggg. I probably could not eat the eggs if I had my own chickens. I would feel guilt! LOL...

    No humidity today! Yeh, I am happy about that. I am sooo tired of sweating while just watering the flowers! I have been in the yard all morning with the hose watering flowers and plants. Now the grass is getting a drink from the sprinkler. No rain with the Cool Front but the lower temps will be nice. 90 for this time of year are normal and not the 98-102 degrees stuff we have been getting the past two weeks! Maybe the garden will survive after all...

    Saint and I are planning on putting the squash and zucchini in the ground today. I doubt that once soggy area will be soggy any time soon so safe to plant them, then maybe they will take off and do what they are supposed to do, Grow and produce veggies!

    Yesterday the Saint and I were walking by the stump when three of the baby wrens decided to fly the nest. They had found the hole in the stump where I keep one of the ferns and they had a nice little nest of 4 babies. Mommy had been feeding them meal worms from our tray. They just happen to fly out as we were walking by them. That was really neat to see the baby's just chirping away once out of the nest. The bluebirds are trying to get their babies out also. A finch keeps hanging with the bluebird daddy. I think it is confusing the bluebird for its daddy. Too funny...

  10. A frames sound like a wonderful idea! So much hard work though. Maybe next year for me.

  11. HELLO ALL,
    Glad to be home. I had a wonderful time on my visit with stepdau. Also got to see my brother & sis-in-law & THEIR GARDEN. They have lots of flowers & veggies. All looked good even tho they are under water restriction.
    Got to observe critters at stepdau's. Rabbits, birds [all kinds], deer,[sadly not the bear] & proof of visit from snake. YES, she found a 4' snake skin in the cabinet under the sink in her bathroom. BOY, did she ever scream. Thought they could hear her downtown Blairsville. This happened the morning we were to leave coming back to Fl. Of course this called for drastic measures. Yep, plug up ever hole regardless of size. Closing in garage [which is under their bedroom & bathroom]. They plan to make bedroom there later anyway.
    She has quite a few flowers & some berry vines in buckets to plant later. Blueberries also. She tried to make garden last yr. but not enough sun where she had it. 80 yr. old neighbor has a large garden & gives them all they can use. Nice of neighbor, therefore she doesn't really need to garden. Only if she really wanted to do it.
    All in all a very nice visit. Now back to normal. Will take me a couple days to get caught up on blogs to see what has been happening.

    Great idea on A-frame, Tina. Will have to make a couple for my garden for vining plants. Will copy so I can have instructions. Also good for cooler plants to be placed under the frame. Dual purpose handy object for garden. Will be super for this hot sun.

  12. Skeeter, So cool on seeing the wrens fledge! Did you snap some pics? I think moving some of your veggies to the ground would be best too. Sounds great. Poles from Germany? Now that is holding on to stuff. Glad it is not humid. Nice for June!

    DP, Not hard work at all. I always think this about gardening. Some hard work up front to save on hard work later. For example. I HATE mulching. But once the mulching is done, no weeding or watering (usually). So a bit of work up front is so worth it-think long term.

    Lola, Your trip sounds great. This is the brother who sent you some roses? I would also scream if I found a snake skin under my sink. Just the thought of a snake in there. Great the neighbor shares so much. Aren't gardeners great? Florida is so bad they are under water restriction? I guess we don't have it so bad then. Right guys? Not yet anyhow. Glad you are back!

  13. Tina, we have been under drought watering restrictions for the past two years now! We are really low on rainfall in Georgia. Our lake is 10 feet below normal and two rivers feed our lake. The lake is 75,000 acres being the largest man made lake east of the Mississippi! For a 75,000 acre lake to be 10 feet low, we are missing a lot of water! We are only to water grass and with sprinklers 3 times a week. Odd number address on Sun-Wed-Fri. Even number address' Tues-Thur-Sat. No one is to water period on Mondays. So far this is an honor system but if you get caught like say a neighbor turns you in, they will write you a citation. After about two warnings, they will fine you in your water bill and turn off your water if you dont pay up... In the paper either today or yesterday, (not sure which) they were saying that it is getting so bad now that they are patrolling looking for violators. Wonder how much gas they are burning up doing that... LOL... Anyway, I try to stick with the watering times but when I water the grass, I have to move the sprinklers around due to large yard and then I water deep letting her run a long time like say 3 hours per spot! The water has been on since 8:00 this morning and still running as I type! Arggg, water bill will be high but we like our green grass and pretty flowers....

    Lola, Glad you had a great time with some of the family! I would have died if I found a snake under the sink! They have the skin, now where is the snake? I would go nuts looking for the thing. Did yall hear about the family that bought a child’s mattress at Toys RUs and a snake came out of it and was curled up around the baby! Arggg, I think I see a lawsuit coming with that one....

    Tina, I snapped a picture of one baby wren. They all flew into the butterfly bushes and hid from the world! We took the worms out and mommy was grabbing them and flying into the bushes and stuffing little mouths. The bluebirds have been trying to get their babies out of their house too. I caught a picture of two heads peeking out while we were sitting on the swing...

    The Saint and I got 4 zucchini and 4 crook neck squash in the ground. Went to Lowes and got that Black Kow dirt and I like it better then Miracle Grow! I think I will use that from now on as it is more like dirt and less like peat moss... Holes were really difficult for the Saint to dig. Hard to believe two months ago we were talking about planting water lilies in that soggy area! Now bone dry and hard! Worms on top of soil under the hay mulch so that is good. I made sure to put all worms around the plants under the hay....

    We hope to get more plants in the ground tomorrow.

  14. Yes Tina, the brother that sent me the roses. They are under water restrictions. This is the second yr. for them. They live near Lake Lenar where the water is being piped down to Ala. & Fl. to save some kind of snail or something like that.
    Yes, gardeners are the greatest, none better.

  15. Welcome back Lola, glad you had a good time and yes no rest for me if I found a snake skin under the sink.
    Skeeter, I saw the baby with the snake on gma, a constrictor no less, wrapped around her leg! good thing the mom was in the room.
    OK, now I'm annoyed at the Patriots, coulda had a world record if they had not got greedy and instead kicked a field goal but NOOO, tried for a touchdown and blew it. Celtic won championship last night, along with last years red sox! Humph!!!

  16. Skeeter, I had NO idea you all were on watering restrictions. That stinks and makes it even harder to garden. Missing alot of water is an understatment. Wow. Glad you snapped a pic of one wren. They don't stay around long.

    Lola, I thought so on your brother. Lake Lanier? I think that is the lake by Atlanta? Very dry there.

    Dawn, You're too funny.

  17. Hi Tina --your ideas are always amazing me! Another day at the ballfield --kinda like dejavu about this time of year. Boy 1 had his piano lessons this morning and his teacher loaned me two more garden books to look at. The pictures are great but I haven't sat down to read them over yet. I skimmed thru to look at the pretty flowers:)
    Hi Lola --I am so happy to see you back --the snake under the sink --WHOA!!! They seem to be overabundant this year out by my house too:( But, I did start seeing more bunnies now --groundhog again tonight and of course the deer. Better get off here -been a long day. Ciao!

  18. Hey Anonymous, How's this weather? Great for weeding:) Enjoy those garden books. So much to see and learn and read (when you have the time).

  19. Yes Dawn is funny!!!! Sorry about your Pats but am jumping for joy over my Celts!!!!! Been a long dry spell for the Celts and what a blow out the final game was. I went to bed to watch the final quarter and it was so boring I fell asleep. Missed them getting the awards!!:>( Paul Pierce has been such a good player for 10 years with no ring
    but in the playoffs a few times so he now has his ring. He is also such a good person off the court, which can be hard to find nowdays so am happy for him. He is, in my humble opinion, a future hall of famer and with no championship he does not get the credit he should get. Maybe now he will. It had been 22 years since they won top dog and since I have followed them since way back, in the late 50's and 60's when they won 13 top dog place in 17 years, 22 years is a very long time!!!YAHOO CELTS!!!!!!

  20. Oh dear I got so excited about the Celts I forgot....

    Welcome back Lola. Missed you but am glad you got to have a fun trip.

    Tina and Dawn, you girls have changed since you had a pet snake when little. Mad at me when I got rid of it but it probably had a much better life in the woods where I put him than in our house.
    But I sure will never forget Dawn's face and her eyes getting bigger and bigger when she first saw it and her yelling louder with each word as she said "Mom there is a snake, a green snake!".

  21. I found your instructions!
    Thanks. I'm wanting something like this for the gourds by my "wild area." We'll see what the WH can do. He told me he'd build some. :-)