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Building the bean tunnel

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Over the years of our opening the garden we have had so many comments about the hazel tunnel we build every year or so (depending on the winter weather) that I thought we’d give you a quick insight into how it is constructed.

First of all, harvest your hazel poles.  We are fortunate in having two areas from which we can select just the right size sticks, although those in our new field will need quite a few years of management before they give a useable crop.

Here’s Sue, with trusty Silky saw, down by the river.

 

Make sure you have enough and they are long enough

Then assemble your tools;

Something to make good deep holes in your soil

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Lots of good string – here we have sisal baler twine

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and two people.

Work out how long the row needs to be and make a start, keeping the distance between the opposing sticks as close the same as possible.

Here we are after the first half a dozen (out of 27 pairs)

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You’ll see later the process of matching up the two opposing sticks works.

Tie in the two sticks to make the arch, making sure you keep a constant height all along – it will make things easier later.

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Here we have about half of the arches complete.

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and this is how you make them

 

 

Speedy aren’t we??

Now it’s just a case of tying it all together. First with long straight sticks along the apex to make sure the spacing is correct.

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then the all important side sticks, woven in (it’s not that easy) to provide a really solid framework.

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And, in the immortal words of Blue Peter, here’s one I made earlier.  Actually, WE made today.

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Tunnels like this have survived snow, rain and high winds and provide a lovely, easy way to pick your beans.

Now all that’s needed is a bit of warmer weather to plant the beans!

Here’s what it looked like in Summer 2018

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Beans, beans, beans

Comments Off on Beans, beans, beans

‘Twas a strange day in the Nant-y-Bedd garden today.  We were working together! It was, albeit a bit later than usual due to the inclement weather, the time to construct this year’s bean tunnel.

A lot of ‘harvesting’ of hazel rods had been going on recently and in order to get the cars out of the yard, something had to be done.

The Runner Bean tunnel is widely admired by our visitors, but they only usually see it covered in beans.  So here you can see the skeleton and the amount of work that goes into it.

First the sticks have to be cut and brought into the potager.

Just some of the hazel sticks

Each stick needs to be fairly straight and without branches in the wrong place, otherwise they tend to break as they are bent.

Then the framework starts to take form.

the first few hoops

From here on it’s a case of getting matching pairs of hazel rods and tying them in to the the top ‘stretcher’.

adding more hoops

It is very much a two person job, pushing the rods into the soil, bending them over at the right height and then tying them into the arch position; one under, one over the stretcher.

teamwork!

Eventually we have 25 rods each side, giving 50 planting positions for the plants.

To make it more secure, and with the winds we have had in some summers this is essential, we run a further sideways set of rods to keep everything in just the right place.

Pretty much finished

By the time you visit you’ll hardly be able to see the frame for the green beans hanging down.

A tunnel of ?????

The beans are nearly ready to be planted out, and then they will be climbing faster than you can believe. Come and see for yourself.

Oh yes! the string to pull it all together is natural sisal baling twine – none of your plastic stuff!