Weekend Project
Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Doing a runner

By Justin Newcombe

1 comment

Justin Newcombe gets in the frame and finds a solution for the vertical vegetable problem.

Justin Newcombe with his bean screen. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Justin Newcombe with his bean screen. Photo / Steven McNicholl

After years of assembling and disassembling temporary structures in the garden for my regular crops like beans, I've decided to start erecting more robust permanent ones instead. I still want them to be portable so I can follow a crop rotation cycle around my beds, and I need to store them easily.

Moving structures around is also an opportunity to add some colour into my garden. If you have raised beds then this bean screen is also a great solution for all your vertical problems. You can attach the screen to the side or end of the garden bed, while the "A" frame version of the screen (two screens joined together at the top with a hinge) can straddle the bed.

As well as providing a strong colourful frame for beans, cucumbers, peas and tomatoes, it also provides worthwhile protection from the summer heat for crops like basil, coriander and some lettuce.

The structure is very easy to assemble with two uprights supporting three horizontal timbers, a header at the top, a plate at the bottom and a brace in the middle.

I've notched the pieces together using a skill-saw. This is not strictly necessary, but this kind of join will make the frame much stronger and longer lasting. I used Gorilla glue and screws to secure the joins. Because the glue expands to fill in the gaps, wait until the glue has fully dried before you paint the screens as bubbles of glue can appear under the paint. I used wire to create a climbing surface for my beans. This is a relatively light option, suitable for beans because they climb habitually. But a stronger material like timber battens may be necessary for plants like tomatoes and cucumbers and is a must for really heavy crops such as water melon and pumpkin.

A strong, portable screens such as this one is a great way to save space and get the most out of tight spaces in the garden while giving you the flexibility to change things around from season to season.

Step 1

Cut the timber to length. I use 45x75mm pine cut into 1-metre lengths for the width and 2m lengths for the height.

Step 2

To form a notch for the cross-beams, set your skill saw at half the width of the timber (in my case 22.5mm) and make multiple cuts where the timbers are joined. Remove the waste timber in between the cuts then tidy with a chisel, file or piece of sandpaper.

Step 3

Set the timbers up on a flat area using a set square, then glue and screw together.

Step 4

Allow the glue to dry (approximately 4hrs) then paint with at least two coats of paint.

Step 5

Place screws across the bottom and top to attach the wire to. Mine are 100mm apart.

Step 6

Run the wire from top to bottom making sure each length is pulled tight before you wrap it around the screw.

Step 7

To make an "A" frame, join two frames together at the top using hinges, or brace a single frame with some spare timber lengths.

- NZ Herald

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