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Vertical Frame Construction Question

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Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  CaptainNapalm on 8/8/2012, 8:07 pm

I'm planning to make a SFG next year (actually, I'm planning on building eight 4'x4' boxes... my family likes to eat). I'd like to grow melons and pumpkins on a vertical frame. I was reading Mel's book about frame construction and, for heavy plants, he recommended using a section of fence post instead of the rebar. The book doesn't show a picture or diagram of that kind of set-up and I can't find anything by Googling it. Has anybody built a heavy-duty vertical frame that can post pictures of the construction? I'd really appreciate the input. Thanks!
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  walshevak on 8/8/2012, 8:23 pm

The fence post he is recommending is just a metal T post to be used as a support to the emt instead of the rebar in the ground. Available at any big box store and it just pounds into the ground until the T is under ground. No real construction needed.

Kay

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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/8/2012, 8:53 pm

@CaptainNapalm wrote:I'm planning to make a SFG next year (actually, I'm planning on building eight 4'x4' boxes... my family likes to eat). I'd like to grow melons and pumpkins on a vertical frame. I was reading Mel's book about frame construction and, for heavy plants, he recommended using a section of fence post instead of the rebar. The book doesn't show a picture or diagram of that kind of set-up and I can't find anything by Googling it. Has anybody built a heavy-duty vertical frame that can post pictures of the construction? I'd really appreciate the input. Thanks!

First welcome neighbor to this forum. I just built my SFG last year and put up my trellis this spring but I have a 4x8 garden and had to design a differnt frame to hand my mesh on. I could not find any T's for conduit so I went "outside the box" for my design. Found some 6 foot rebar to drive in the ground, used sch 40 PVC for the 3 legs and the top of the frame and is holding up so far but I only have tomatoes weighing it down and you want heavier crops like melons and I doubt my structure would hold that......
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/9/2012, 1:08 am

I used the emt conduit for a 3 x 8 bed. I put in 2 extra legs (four in all). I connected the two inner legs to the top emt pipe using pvc T's. I slid the T's through the top emt bar and then duct taped them to the top emt and the middle two legs to keep them from sliding around. I used two emt corners for the outer two legs. Worked great.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  cheyannarach on 8/9/2012, 9:49 am

I use cattle panel arches!
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  CindiLou on 8/9/2012, 3:02 pm

My hubby just put a post in the ground on each side of the box and wired one across it
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/9/2012, 8:18 pm

@yolos wrote:I used the emt conduit for a 3 x 8 bed. I put in 2 extra legs (four in all). I connected the two inner legs to the top emt pipe using pvc T's. I slid the T's through the top emt bar and then duct taped them to the top emt and the middle two legs to keep them from sliding around. I used two emt corners for the outer two legs. Worked great.

@Yolos
Since we have almost the same size SFGs I never thought you could use PVC Tees with conduit. You have two extra legs and I have one extra but I didn't understand you could use pvc with conduit.

So you use duct tape to hold your strucuture from moving around?
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  CaptainNapalm on 8/9/2012, 9:27 pm

Thanks to all for the helpful suggestions!
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/9/2012, 10:10 pm

Floyd - here is a picture of one of my emt trellis with PVC T's. This particular trellis is over a couple of pots and not the sfg. But it is identical to the trellis I built over the 3 x 8 sfg bed. You can just barely see the white pvc T's at the top of the inner two legs. You can also see the duct tape I used to keep them from moving back and forth on the trellis.


This is a little better view of the whole trellis.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/10/2012, 10:38 pm

@Yolos

Thanks for the pictures of you vertical frame. You use the conduit with the pvc tees which look very tall. Mine is 6 foot high so yours look like 8 feet tall or more!!!!

If so I can see why you need 4 vertical supports
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/11/2012, 12:20 pm

Floyd
Yes, this trellis is 8 feet tall and you are right, I did need a few extra legs. I also used 3/4 inch conduit for two reasons. I used a taller trellis because everything I plant and grow on the 6 foot trellis reaches the top and begins to fall over (tomatoes and cucumbers) so I wanted it taller. And as you can see from the following picture the watermellon has already reached the 6 foot mark and is still growing strong. I used 3/4 inch conduit because I am growing watermellon on the trellis and it is freestanding. The second picure shows 4 watermellons on only one part of the trellis. I may have to add some guide wires to help keep it standing straight once those watermellons get big. They are an icebox size watermellon (Sugar Baby) that I grew on the ground last year. My 3 year old grandson kept trampelling the vines because he would run into the patch to look at the watermellons. I had to do something to keep them off the ground.






Here is a trellis with tomatoes that I did not make tall enough the first time and had to add some extensions to the top. It is now 11 feet tall. I am experimenting this year to see how tall everything will grow. Here in Georgia, it is so hot in the middle of the summer that the fruit stops setting in the heat. But I am betting that if I just let everything grow, it will get cooler and the fruit will start setting again. I am having to use a ladder to continue srtinging the tomatoes and will need one to harvest them also. I also did a lousy job of suckering so they are growing not only tall but also wide.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  Pepper on 8/11/2012, 12:38 pm

Great job on the trellis and the watermellons.

I use 3/4 emt also it just seems stronger. Instead of rebar I use 5/8s ground rods they are much stiffer and at 8 ft long I can drive them 3-4 ft in the ground and have a gracious plenty out of the ground. The 5/8 into the 3/4 is smug enough to not have much wobble. My setup costs a bit more but is reusable as the ground rod does not deform as bad a soft rebar. I have about a 1 ft section of old RR track that I use to drive the ground rod, since the weight does the work I get very little deformation.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/11/2012, 6:15 pm

Yolos.

Wow..11 feet high, I take my hat off to you. Also I can see why you needed and extra leg and 3/4 inch conduit to handle the weight of the melons. Even in PA my tomatoes and beans have long gone over the top of my frame to I need to extend mine but PVC will not handle that height.

What did you put in the ground to stablize your conduit legs? 5/8" rebar or something stronger...
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/11/2012, 7:11 pm

Floyd -
I used standard size rebar (don't know if it is 5/8, just what they normally sell at HD). Length was about 6 feet with 2 feet pounded into the red Georgia clay (like cement). If it gets too covered in vines it will act like a sail and one or more of the legs may bend. In that case I will use guide wires from the top down to the sides of the bed on each side. If it is not coved with vines, the wind should just go thru and I won't have to put up the guide wires. I don't want to keep tripping over them unless absolutely necessary. I never thought about using the ground rods that Pepper talked about.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/11/2012, 7:33 pm

Yolos
I also used rebar that was 6 foot long, which I purchased at a box store, and it was 1/2 inch diameter to fit my 1/2 inch PVC pipe.

Now I do like pepper's idea of using ground rods. Think I have seen what he mentioned at Lowes as I think it has a pointed end. Never checked the lenght though and I think pepper said it was in 8 foot lenght?

If you used them do you think you could get away without guide wires?
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/11/2012, 8:30 pm

Floyd,
I don't know about using the ground rods. Sounded like it was a close fit to get the EMT rods over the ground rods. My clay is like concrete. I am afraid ponding the ground rods into the ground would flare out the top and the emt might not fit over the ground rods. Also, I do not plan to make another freestanding trellis so hope mine will last a long time. It was hard enough getting a 6 foot length of rebar in completely level and straight up. I do not think I would be able to manage an 8 foot piece of ground rod. I have another trellis on one of my 3 x 8 sfg beds. I set the legs into 4 foot pvc pipes anchored to the bed with U brackets. That seems to be holding up fine.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/12/2012, 8:35 pm

Yolos

I understand the problems of adding one more leg and you put 2 extra in; as I said earlier I will have to rebuild mine this fall. Perhaps if you see my PVC set up you will understand.





As I mentioned earlier I used 6 foot rebar as well and my ground is hard but not as hard as yours, but the tough part was driving the rebar in the ground and keeping them level. If you look at my fence I had to dig into the ground and put my 4"x4", keep them level and straight. I did this by digging wider holes and placing the posts in and concreting them in and am thinking of doing the same procedure for my new frame. Will not have to dig the holes as big though; any thoughts?

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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  yolos on 8/12/2012, 9:10 pm

Floyd,
Nice set up you have there. Looks real nice. I am not sure you really need concrete. I would say you do need to go taller though. Most people either use cattle panels held up with T posts or 1/2 EMT with rebar or T posts to hold up the EMT. I would rather use a cattle panel but I have a small SUV and can't get the cattle panels home.
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 8/12/2012, 9:23 pm

Very nice arrangement, floyd, but I agree with yolos, with Mel's Mix, vertical plantings have a tendency to totally outgrow what you think it will. I spent almost two hours this morning retraining Dagma's Perfection yellow tomatoes to a trellis much taller than I thought I'd need when I planted them this spring. Next year, I shall put a cattle panel arch OVER the 4-foot square bed where tomatoes are planted. First, it should provide a mini-greenhouse in early Spring for the plants to establish themselves; then, in late summer, will provide a way to tie the plants up as they start to set fruit. Whadda 'ya think? Nonna

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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  floyd1440 on 8/13/2012, 8:49 pm

Yolos&Nonna

You both agree I need a bigger trellis but how do cattle panels work? I think I have seen some pictures on other threads but do they stand up right or bend over the bed?

Guess I need a picture to go forward with ideas.......

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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 8/13/2012, 10:01 pm

Cattle panels are totally wonderful. This spring, we bought 4 as an experiment and they have clearly outdone themselves. In the budget for next year are: four more cattle panels. Each panel is roughly 4' by 18'. The space between my four squares is a bit over 4 feet wide. PapaVino drove salvaged metal T-bar fence posts at east and west sides of the four beds, and we bent the cattle panels enough to walk between the beds, then fasten them to the fence posts with zip ties. These cattle panels make an arch that's about 7 feet tall at the apex of the arch (which means I pick beans and peas from a short ladder). Two other cattle panel arches are supporting squash vines, and doing it well! Cattle panels are easy to bend into the arches once you have your beds built and filled and auxilliary corner supports (like the tall metal fence posts). The two of us each stood on the long side of the panel, picked it up, and carefully bent it into an U-shape, then walked between the squares, placed the butts of the panels against the raised beds' sides and fastened them to each fence post in two places: at bottom and about 4-1/2 feet up. Done! Try it, you'll like it!

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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  walshevak on 8/14/2012, 2:23 am

Here is a cattle panel in action supported between a tabletop and a stack of cinderblocks, no posts as that is the leach field of my septic system. I was looking for something tall enough to be useful, as the bottom of my plants are already almost 3' in the air, but low enought I wouldn't have to climb a ladder to harvest. By curving the vines over, a step stool is sufficient. I have another one that is wedged between two table tops.
cantaloupe in a bed, cuke and tomatos in buckets.

They were working very well before I left home. Be interesting to see what I go home to. I want at least 2 more.

Kay


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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/14/2012, 5:23 pm

Where do you buy cattle panels? I asked at Home Depot this weekend and they had no idea what I was talking about.

CC
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  Lindacol on 8/14/2012, 5:36 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:Where do you buy cattle panels? I asked at Home Depot this weekend and they had no idea what I was talking about.

CC

Tractor Supply has them and has stores in many states. Online they call them feedlot panels. Fence companies or feed stores sometimes carry them. I see them on Craigslist at times referred to as stock, cattle or hog panels.

http://tsc.tractorsupply.com/search?p=Q&lbc=tractorsupply&uid=798036504&ts=custom&w=*&isort=globalpop&method=and&view=grid&stateid=s6B16B26B1D8RR8xqc&modaf=rn:cat2:fencing_feedlotpanels
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Re: Vertical Frame Construction Question

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 8/14/2012, 5:55 pm

A word of clarification: cattle panels and hog panels are somewhat different. Hog panels have more narrow openings, which makes them useful for climbing flowers, peas and cucumbers, where the fruits aren't too large to pull back through the openings. But cattle panels have wider openings, so it's easier to reach through to harvest large tomatoes, smaller melons, etc. Something to consider. One of our cattle panel arches has thrilled our potimarron winter squash, which immediately raced to the top of the arch and formed two lovely squashes, which now dangle just over my head when I walk through the arch. As of today, it has grown completely over the arch, and is currently wandering along the top of the deer/elk fence. The acorn squash, Thelma Sanders, took the lower road, across the walkway, then up the elk/deer fence and is testing the far side of the arch. Didn't know squash had personalities. Nonna

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