The Importance Of Good Support

good supportA question about how to best support peas (thanks for your query Mel!) inspired me to wax lyrical about the importance of good support. Give those flimsy 10mm stakes to your nephew for javelin practice, desist from tying your vegetables bondage-like to bamboo (collapse is imminent) and create something robust. Robust is one of my favourite words –  sturdy, solid, safe. Secure your vegies, not with lashings of tie, but with a robust frame. Something that’ll stand up to wind and a weighty crop.

I too started with bamboo, and other flimsy inadequate poles. Upping the stakes as the light dawned, to more rugged, manly sizes. My preference now is 50mm macrocarpa (try blowing that over!). Oh the structures I’ve tried – dried flax stalks, pretty but useless; cute tipis – mark #1, mark #2, mark #3. No matter which way you swing it, it’s a hopeless design – all the beans end up unreachable in the middle, not to mention the inevitable sideways slide where it morphs from tipi to rocket-about-to-launch. Every season a new design, a new idea how to better strap poles together. Each new plan stronger, tougher and more lasting (and using more twine). Tying row upon row of twine for pea tendrils to grip onto. (A word to the wise: where there is tying up there is, at some point, untying)

Then I found reinforcing mesh. Sometimes you look and think and try and try, but nothing comes together. Then, one day you casually bump into your one and only. Offcuts from concreting became a frame to grow cucumbers on, and there it was, I’d bumped into the perfect frame. A frame that wouldn’t bend, buckle or break. One with easy access to both sides for total harvest. And best of all no more twine! Easy to erect (and take down) – simply tie it to a couple of sturdy stakes (ok, so a small amount of twine). I love that it stores flat, and can be stored outside. Every year I splash out on another sheet. Eventually everything will be grown up this wondrous stuff. (Come summer, you may be forgiven for thinking you arrived at the metal recyclers.)

Wirenetting stapled onto a wooden frame is my number two choice, my backup guy for when I run out of mesh. Though sturdy and easy to erect (same as above), the end of season R&M and eventual replacement keep them firmly in second place. I originally built these frames to dry my garlic and onions on, but in the way of all good things, they’re now multi-tasking.

Let this definition guide you in your creations. Support, noun a thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright.