Growing a Green Bean Teepee: Our Summer Project
Kids can make a green bean teepee as a fun summer hideout and enjoy eating their own homegrown green beans.
My kids, ages 6 and 12, made this green bean fort mostly on their own. I helped teach them how to lash the poles together and add the drip system, but the other steps they did with just a little supervision. It was a fun project for them, especially since green beans grow fast and they could see progress almost every day.
1. Prep the Soil and Build the
This area of our backyard has mostly been unused, so we cleared it out and got it ready for planting. We pulled the weeds and added some compost to the dirt. We tested the soil to see what kind of fertilizer we would need (you can read how to test your soil here—it’s really easy). We raked the whole area to loosen up the dirt and get it ready for planting seeds.
But before we planted anything, we built the teepee frame. We used a bunch of long sticks from pruning our trees, but you could buy long garden stakes too. We lashed the sticks together at the top with some old rope. Start by tying together 3 of the largest sticks, wrapping the rope around several times. Then add in more sticks. When we had a pretty stable frame with 5 or 6 sticks, then we just laid more sticks on without tying them in. Our teepee is in a pretty protected spot, between the playhouse and our house, so we weren’t worried about the wind knocking it down. You can see that we even added an old garden trellis and a few shorter sticks just to fill it out.
2. Plan for Watering
I am an inconsistent gardener. As much as I love being in our yard, I sometimes go weeks without even looking at my plants. If I had to hand water everything, all my plants would be dead. Luckily, it’s really easy to install a drip system. We put a drip system in our vegetable box a few years ago when we installed our sprinklers.
Adding another line of drip emitters to the area with the green bean teepee was very easy. I made a “U” shape with the drip line. It connected to the 1/2-inch tube (water source) closest to the house at the bottom of the “U”. Then two drip lines went around at the base of the teepee, ending at the opening of the teepee. We put a 2 gph drip emitter next to each poll because that’s where we will plant so the beans grow up the poles.
3. Plant the Green Bean
My 6-year-old did all the planting. He poked his finger in the dirt near each pole and added 2-3 green bean seeds, then buried that. We ordered our seeds from Burpee because I’ve had better luck with those, but you can buy green bean seeds at any garden center and some dollar stores and markets.
We also planted some pumpkin and cantaloupe seeds to grow at the base of the teepee. They only ended up growing well on the sunny side of the teepee, but the green beans grew well around the whole thing. Maybe because they are growing up towards the sun.
We covered the whole area with wood chip mulch to keep the soil moist and healthy.
4. Watch the Green Bean Teepee
Green beans grow quickly, and in a few weeks, we had a nice shady teepee. Since the drip system uses an automatic timer, we didn’t have to do anything at all to take care of it.
My kids put a little table and chair inside the teepee, so they could relax in their own little space and watch their garden grow from the inside.
The green beans naturally grow up around the pole, so you don’t have to tie them on or anything.
6. Harvest the Green Beans
The beans grew quickly.
Make sure you pick the green beans before they get too big and hard. The smaller they are, the sweeter they taste.
We also planted pumpkin and melon seeds at the base of the teepee. The melon plant even started growing up the poles with the green beans.
Building a green bean teepee was a really fun summer project to do with my kids. They had fun helping to build the teepee and planting seeds, then watching them grow. Because green beans grow so fast, it kept their interest. They had fun picking the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor and they even enjoyed eating them.
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