I set up a trellis for the peas in the demonstration bed at Whole Earth Center – not a moment too soon because they had tipped over and were trying to climb each other. Despite breaking off a couple tops of the sprouts (which I ate and were delicious), I wound them around their strings and they seem to be happily on an upward course.
There are many ways to make something for peas to climb. Here’s what I did. Materials for one trellis, 5′ wide:
- 2 pointed stakes (I bought a cedar 2×4, ripped it in half and pointed the ends using my chop saw)
- 1 10′ piece of 1/2″ electrical conduit (available at most hardware stores)
- 4 deck screws (not so long that they’ll go all the way through your stakes)
- String (a natural fiber like sisal or jute)
Cut the conduit in half and flatten about 1-3/4″ of the ends, either by squeezing them in a vice or pounding it with a heavy weight hammer against a hard, flat, indestructible surface. Be sure that when you flatten the second end of a length of pipe, you line it up so both flattened pieces are parallel. Drill a hole in the center of each flattened end using a bit big enough for the shaft but not the head of your screws to pass through.
Place the stakes on the ground in front of where you plan to erect the trellis – with the pointed ends right where they’ll go in the ground. Place one section of pipe on the other ends of the stakes (the flat ends, on the end-grain) and drive a screw into into both ends. Place the other pipe across the stakes near the pointed ends, about 14 to 17″ from the points. Drive screws into the ends of that pipe.
Now the trellis is ready to stand up into place. It’s going to be floppy so it would help to have a second person. Use a heavy hammer to pound the stakes into the ground (don’t worry that you’ll be whacking on the screw that holds the pipe to the top of the stake). It might help to alternate between the two sides as you pound them it.
Tie one end of the string to one end of one of the pipes and then run it up and down in a zig-zag pattern about 3″ or 4″ apart until you reach the other end.
Once the peas are tall enough, gently train them to go up the strings by twirling the leaders around the strings.