Adventure abounds in a garden. When you add a bean tepee for your children, it becomes a magical place and takes imagination to another level. In a world filled with Smartphones, iPads and Gameboys, introducing your child to the wonders of a garden might be the start of helping your youngster use some of his or her God-given talent for imagination. Who knows, it may also be the way to convince your child to eat his green beans!
Bean tepees are easy and fun gardening projects the entire family can enjoy. All it takes is some long bamboo canes, anywhere from 5 to 7, depending on the size of the teepee. A circle with a diameter of 3 to 4 feet will work well. You will also need some twine or string.
Dig your garden area into a circular shape. On the outside of the circle, push the ends of the bamboo poles into the ground by about 3 inches. Make sure you leave a larger gap between two of the poles for the entrance to the tepee.
Bring the bamboo poles together at the top and tie them with the twine. Make sure they are firmly held together so they can withstand children moving in and out of the structure.
On the inside of the tepee, plant two bean seeds at the base of each pole. Plant the beans 1 to 2 inches deep and water well.
The beans will germinate in 7 to 14 days. When they reach a few inches high, loosely tie them to the poles and they should continue to grow and climb the poles. If needed, tie loosely in other spots as they climb. The beans will begin to fill out and provide a covering for the tepee, which means it’s the perfect hideaway! When the beans reach the top of the bamboo poles, pinch them back 2 or 3 inches. See this link for a guide.
Help your children be on the lookout for beans and let them help harvest them, usually every few days to keep the plants flowering and producing.
Remember to plant pole beans not bush beans. Both produce delicious home-grown green beans but your children will be disappointed when they discover they can’t hide inside the tepee with bush beans at each bamboo cane.
According to horticulturist John Vining, these pole bean varieties are tried-and-true cultivars for the Southeast: Kentucky Blue, Blue Lake Stringless, Romano(flat) and Kentucky Wonder 191. Check with a 4-H program near you for best varieties in your area.
Planting dates: for spring, plant between May 1 and July 1; for a fall garden, plant between August 1 and September 1.