How to Make an Easy Bean Teepee
Kids will dig this home grown secret hiding place! It’s fun to put together and the anticipation from the young ones is priceless.
A bean teepee can be made in less than an hour if the ground is ready for planting, you’re not striving for perfection, and you have spare materials lying around. This one took a little extra time because our spot was rocky and we decided to build up the planting area using small boulders.
To put up a teepee quickly, you will need the following materials:
- Friendly garden soil ready for planting at least 18″ deep. By “friendly”, we mean, “Will anything grow here, now?” When in doubt, amend it with some compost.
- 5-8 posts, bamboo poles or sturdy poles at least 6 feet high.
- Seeds for beans (the climbing type) or seedlings ready to plant.
- Wire, sturdy tape or twine to fasten the poles together at the top and to attach sticks or old vines to the structure.
- Sticks or old vines to help the beans climb and add some character!
- Method to water the beans. You can water by hand if you don’t have an automatic system. (Our approach was the take an existing sprinkler tube and attach a small diameter soaker hose, wrapping it around the teepee.)
- Stakes for the poles (If you cannot stick the poles in the ground easily and/or if you’re concerned in high winds the teepee could take off.)
Here’s How To Quickly Build a “Mean Bean Teepee”:
1. Prepare the Earth – For best results, make sure your spot is at least 4 feet by 4 feet and 18″ deep. The ground should be crumbly and if too compacted, loosen it up. Add some compost to the mix if your soil is all clay. If you are adding soil above the existing surface, try half compost and half garden soil (or clean fill dirt).
TIP - You can mound up the soil near each pole to plant the beans. Make sure each mound can accommodate for two bean plants. Follow the directions on the seed packet or seedling package.
2. Arrange the Poles – Spread out the poles and gather them at the top. Make sure to leave an opening at least 2 feet wide for the door. Tie the poles together at the top using wire, tape or whatever will hold well. It works better to have a tall helper but as we found, it can be done by one fairly tall person who is familiar with the game Twister.
TIP - Think about where you want the door to be in relation to your backyard and home windows. We chose to not see the door when looking out from the house.
3. Add Reinforcement – Stake the poles. (If not sticking them in the ground.)
TIP - Staking the poles in the ground was a lot easier than pushing them in because the ground below was rocky. And even though the teepee is 10 feet from the house, high winds could make it fall over. Still, if your garden area is soft enough and you’re not worried about the playhouse flying away, you may opt to forgo the stakes.
4. Attach some climbing character – Once the structure was stable, we started attaching old grape vines to the teepee in a whimsical pattern.
TIP - You can use long twigs or anything strong enough to support a vine. Attach them in such as way that it makes it easy for the bean vines to travel up.
5. Plant two bean plants per pole. Make sure they are the climbing type!
TIP - Once the vines start growing, you can help them attach themselves to the poles by gently tying them close to the poles with loose twine, string or even sections of pantyhose. Put those ugly knees highs to good use!
6. Water your beans. We hooked up 1/4″ soaker hose all around the teepee, eliminating the need for individual sprinklers at each plant.
TIP – Watering the ground directly also keeps the bean plants healthier – and your kids less soggy while they hide in their mystery hut.
Somehow, even with the teepee uncovered, our backyard has taken on a new life, especially from the kids’ point of view. They are so excited about what could happen in and around the teepee.
See this massive bean teepee in progress from GSO Edible Schoolyards for an example. Your bean teepee could be covered completely by mid summer.