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March 29, 2016 | Tags:

Reaching for the Sky

So you planted peas in your school garden, and they’re coming up! Now what?
It’s time to put a trellis in place so they can climb to their full potential. This can be a great way to facilitate some small-group creative problem solving in the garden.
Trellises can be made out of just about anything. We happened to have a lot of branches yarn, and extra fuzzy pipe cleaners on hand. We divided classes into small groups, gave them their materials, and let their imaginations run wild. Younger students wove yarn between branches stuck in the ground, and our 5th grade class completed some pretty awesome feats of engineering to make a giant standalone pyramid-shaped trellis. Some classes even stayed out in the garden through recess to finish their projects. We had a little too much fun with the fuzzy pipe cleaners along the way 🙂
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Some technical notes: 
  • You will want to make sure that your trellis is close enough to the ground and is thin enough for pea tendrils to grab onto. It’s easy to add a layer of yarn, bird netting, or chicken wire to the outside of any grand trellis structures your class creates (this is our plan for the pyramid trellis). Make sure it goes all the way down to the ground, so the peas are resting against it.
  • Peas can reach heights of 6 feet tall, so often at our elementary schools, the peas outgrow smaller trellises that you see younger classes designing in these pictures. If this happens, it can be easily remedied by acquiring 6′ stakes or branches, pushing them into the corners of your raised bed behind the shorter trellises, and stretching bird netting (available for about $6 from most home & garden stores) between them. Lean the overgrown peas against the new trellis and they’ll do the rest of the work.
  • Trellises can either be pushed deep into the soil of the raised beds (make sure it doesn’t wobble at all when you push it!), or nailed or screwed to the wood of the raised beds.
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