The first time I met my yoga teacher, Christina, she referred to herself as a “joyful gardener.” It was an offhanded comment–something to do with the reason why she liked my green yoga mat with the tree on it–but I find myself thinking about those paired words often, especially now that my seedlings are growing up, preening with their flowers, and showing the beginnings of fall and winter produce.
For me, part of adopting that description is about feeling resourceful. My joy comes from reusing what we have on hand. If an item has outlasted it’s purpose inside the house, I’m always hoping there’s a suitable task waiting for it outside: feeding the worms, adding to the compost pile, or perhaps becoming a makeshift stake for a plant that’s become too top-heavy. So, when the row of peas started to grow curled tendrils and were looking around for something to climb on, I knew I had to rig something.
But, rigging a ladder for the peas requires construction and power tools and men (or, so I assumed), so this wouldn’t be a solo project.
This is my husband, Bob. This is the “What?” face Bob makes when I’ve asked him to do something a little strange. “Yes, honey, I need these pieces of wood turned into spikes for the peas.”
Bob is not a joyful gardener, but he caters to my whimsy without complaint. I count this as a win.
When I ask for a favor, like pea ladder construction, I always come with complete instructions, down to things like: Don’t we need saw horses? This is Bob setting up a table and suggesting that I let him handle the How and I just worry about the What. Heeee.
So, after scouting around on the Internet and seeing some pretty well made pea ladders I thought, hey, I don’t need to run out and buy a trellis for these plants. We can just make something, even if it doesn’t fall into the realm of “well made.” See, peas aren’t very picky. They don’t care if you sand anything or use brand new wood. In fact, they’d crawl all over you if you’d just stand there long enough.
When my parents had their backyard trees put in, years ago, they came with large stakes that have sat on their side yard ever since. I gleefully stole those for our project.
Me: “Safety first! I’m taking photos for the blog. Do you want to influence young children to not wear safety gear while using circular saws?” Bob: “I don’t think young children are your demographic, dear.” He put them on anyway.
He’s just going to make two diagonal cuts–one on each piece of wood. This way they’re easier to pound into the ground.
Added bonus: the leftover scraps double as two Buffy-style stakes for any future vampire fights.
And here comes the pounding!
Now, this will seem completely obvious to you, but I didn’t realize it until after he’d pounded both of them into the dirt: line up your poles. I placed them slightly to the right of the row and now the plants have to lean a little just to reach the strings we tied between the poles. If you put them inline with the row of climbers, they can just go straight up without having to blindly seek out their ladders.
Now, get some twine or string and start making rows!
Make sure you’re keeping the string tight as you tie it around the poles. The peas aren’t terribly heavy, but if you’re in a windy area a few loose strings can cause them to swing around. We’re not entirely sure how high the peas are going to get, so every few days I wander out with my ball of orange twine and assess whether or not I need to make more rows.
This is taken a few weeks after we built the ladder for the peas. Now the beans needed something to climb! Luckily, we had some rebar in the garage.
I don’t know how many garages have stray pieces of rebar hanging around or if I’m just particularly lucky because my father is an engineer and therefore has… engineer-y things in his garage. But! Rebar is a good substitute for wooden stakes because it won’t rot as quickly and you don’t have to cut it before you hammer it into the ground. And then, once you realize you’re able to use rebar for things, you’ll want to use it everywhere! Case in point:
Need to make sure your dogs don’t trample your garden? Perhaps you have some rebar and some old chicken wire hanging around!
I’m a big fan of getting things for free (who isn’t?!), but I think I get even more excited when I’m able to recycle items that would otherwise just lay around and collect dust. It’s the same feeling I get when I realize I have all the ingredients for tonight’s dinner in the house already. I don’t even have to climb out of my pajamas and go to the market!
And if that isn’t the definition of joy, I don’t know what is.