Finally, a gardening note: F. and I built two types of trellises for the half-runner beans based on my grandfather’s vague descriptions and me having seen a field full of them probably hundreds of times in my childhood, but never really paying close attention to the design of the support. We built both out of sticks we found on the ground in the woods, and frankly, I am never buying another bamboo pole in my life. Fallen branches are way more sturdy, effective, and cheap. Not to mention charming. Branches strung together with plain twine make the most whimsical, organic supports, and they are so much prettier than expensive pea fencing or whatever else the industry tries to sell us.
But after a test run, I’m ready to say you want supports for half-runner beans between two and three feet off the ground. Our main planting is between one-and-a-half and two feet high, depending on how swaybacked the branch, and although the supports looked fairly swamped, they were much lovelier and did a better job at helping the beans to climb than my other experimental trellis. At nearly 4 feet tall, it was difficult for the beans to grab hold, and I had to do a lot of delicate guidance and intervention and even provide additional climbing ropes. This effectively meant the secondary crop of beans was forever getting splashed with mud in heavy rains, not an ideal circumstance as soil splashed on the leaves can spread disease. We were fortunate this didn’t happen, but still, not great.
I think next year I will aim for a mid-way point, so the vines don’t quite take over the support and feel the need to move on to new territory, but can still find an easy foothold.
As it is, both plantings are quite mature. The older portions of the runners are so entwined that I can no longer resolve which goes with which parent plant. And just imagine how tangled their roots are below the soil line…
More and more I realize that this is true of me, as well. I am so enmeshed in all of earth’s support systems, my life so interconnected with every other animal, plant, and person that, taking the overview, I am not just “I.” I am one with the sun and the raindrops falling gently now outside my window. I am one with the soil and the worm. I am one with the seed and the flower.
I am part of every single person I love — and they are a part of me. And more than that, I am one with the people who drive me crazy and mirror the facets of myself I would prefer to keep hidden forever, thank you very much.
We are all part of one mysterious Being, all living and learning and loving in a beautiful, wild tangle.