Bamboo Plant Support Structures

I’m Joel Warren. I’m a master gardener intern here at
the demonstration garden in Montgomery County and one of the projects we’ve
done this year was to design and build structures, bamboo, trellises and support structures for our
plants and as with any garden process, you start by planning what you want
to grow and what based on that, what the plants need. If
you have growing vines, you’re going to need trellises to
support them. If you have tomatoes, you need some kind of a basket to contain
them and the materials that I chose to use are bamboo because they are readily
available and it’s inexpensive and I’m kind of frugal. I like to build things and save money
if I can and I’ve made a point of using material that’s readily available. There are excellent examples of some of
the different structures that I’ve made. This is just a basic triangle. It’s like a teepee but is used as a
structure to start with to build a tomato cage and we put cross pieces on. I’m a strong believer in triangulation
because that adds strength to anything you build. The first thing we did this year was to
start with the tomato cage and this was referred to as a beer box tomato cage
because we use a box can be any box, uh, as a jig to support them at the
sticks while you’re building it. And on this one you can see we’ve
got with an orange cable tie, very easy to put together and it holds
everything together while you’re building the cross members. You can cut
it with almost any kind of a saw. I use a trimming saw readily
available again at hardware stores. I think I paid $10 for this one
and it’s got a nice big braid, big teeth, it cuts quickly, but you could use a Hacksaw
or any kind of a wood saw. Works perfectly fine. The material that I use for fastening, it’s polypropylene cord. I like the polypropylene because it’s
somewhat elastic and when you tie that the knots, it squeezes the material
together so it makes it nice and tight. But again, cable ties readily
available at the hardware store, I use a lot of twine. This is Jude, I believe to provide material
for the vines to grow onto. I don’t use this for tying the knots to
support for the support members because it’s not elastic and it does break
down in the weather more quickly. One of the things that a lot of people
are intimidated by when the growing stuff is not knowing how to do the knots, so I’ve got a variety of different
ways to fasten things together. If you don’t do the knots, you
can use things like cable ties. You don’t get your merit badge for knot
tying, but it’s still an easy to do it. For a basic Japanese tie, I usually use about five or six feet of
cord, which is more than I usually need, but it’s easier to cut the ends off than
to try to get a knot tied if you just don’t have enough string leftover. Again, I mentioned that you want to tie it
above so your cross pieces are above the node, this the line goes behind the node. Just take a cross over the top of the
cross piece and then wrap behind the vertical line with your cord. So that’s going to hold it in
place. You’ve got the bottom one, so giving support cross again and cross the two ends of the cord behind
the node and then back up and I crossed them over. So you have an X in the front again cross behind. And
then to tie it all together, I do a half hitch with just a basic one
line over the other at the top and I pull that and then pull it down and
tie another half hitch at the bottom. And what that does is to pull
the two side pieces together, it stretches the cord a little
bit and it locks the uh, the material together. The polypropylene
has a little bit of give to it, so you stretch it out a little
bit, do another half hitch. So you have a square knot and
basically that’s your, your tie. To make it look pretty, you trim the ends off so you
don’t have a lot of loose string. But basically it’s done at that point
and you can see the notice at the bottom. It’s nice and tight. The line’s not
going to slide down the vertical stem. So you have good strength there. An important thing to remember when you
build something like this is that you have to anchor it. And once I would build
a structure like this, I would go around and take a shorter
section of bamboo and my trusty hammer and just drive it into the ground
and then tie the two together. The advantage of that, rather than trying to put the
tall pieces into the ground, is you don’t have to hammer over your
head. And at the end of the season, you just disconnect it. And you can
take the, uh, the structure with you. If you have a place to store it, you
can use it again the next year. If you, if you think about the bamboo being
in the ground, that part’s gonna rot. So you may get one season
out of a, out of a structure. If you put it into the
ground, if you have one, you can put away out of the weather,
you can use it for a number of years.

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