One thing all micro homesteaders battle with is a lack of space. So a great option is to start growing vertically to drastically increase the amount of space you have. I recently built two of these cattle panel arch trellis which I incorporated into my raised beds. Arched cattle panel trellises are prime locations to grow my squash, cucumbers, melons and pole beans. They are also great at helping to keep your garden more organized, ’cause we all know those squash can take OVER!
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With vertical gardening in mind I rallied the whole family and set about to reach for the skies! These arched cattle panel trellises are pretty easy and quick to make. The hardest part for me was getting the cattle panels home. So funny story, I ordered them online and then when they were ready for pickup I sent The Hubby to pick them up…in a two-door Honda Civic. I know, I know. I have no idea what was wrong with either of us. Even worse the man used to work on a dairy farm when he was younger. My excuse is that I am a city girl that just wishes she was a country girl.
So anyway moving on with the story, the people at the store had a good laugh and The Hubby came home sans cattle panels. Lucky for me the people at PeaveyMart were amazing and delivered them to me so we were back on track at this point. We already had 4 t-bars on hand and a post pounder. We rounded out the tools with a level (you don’t need this but The Hubby insisted you can check out the video of how it all went), a tape measure and some burly zip ties. Oh and two STRONG people, I can’t emphasize this enough. This cattle panel is STRONG, I mean cows weigh upward of 700-1100kg so it makes sense. So basically this stuff is seriously hard to bend!
Step 1 – Placement
The first thing you are going to want to do is to determine where the arch is going to go. As I mentioned above I incorporated mine into my raised beds and I couldn’t be happier. With the arch right at the edge of the raised bed I can grow something there and still use the rest of the square foot (I increase my yields by using square foot gardening) for something small. As a micro homesteader my rule of thumb is to make the most of ANY space! Once you have decided where the arch will go and measured everything too make sure the 2 t-bars will be aligned you may want to temporarily mark the spot. I just used some bamboo stakes I had lying around.
Step 2 – Installing the T-Bars
Once you know where the t-bars will go, I used 1 t-bar per side of the cattle panel arch, you can get them into the ground. Orient the t-bar so that the flat side of the post is facing the INSIDE of the arch. This is important as we need to attach the cattle panel to the flat edge. We used a post pounder/driver and it made the job pretty easy. If you don’t have access to one then you can always check out YouTube for some ideas on how to install them. We wanted to make sure ours were nice and secure so we made sure to put them a few feet into the ground. We don’t want them shifting when the lovely Canadian winter hits.
Step 3 – Bending the cattle panels
This is the “hardest” step, which isn’t so much hard as it is unruly. As I mentioned these cattle panels are thick and bending is not what they had in mind. That set grab two strong people, or one if you yourself are a strong person and start by getting the first side of the cattle panel down to soil level. One thing I want to point out is that I like to make sure that the raise side of the cattle panel is facing the OUTSIDE of the arch. Why? I found that with the raised side of the cattle panel facing out you can snug up one the the bars right tight to the flat edge of the t-bar. We did this on one of out arches and missed it on the other. In hind-sight it just feels a bit more secure to me.
With the first side of the cattle panel on the ground you can begin the monumental task of bending down the other side. If you want to see our technique check out the video where The Hubby and The Boy show how we did it. Once you have both sides level then you can move on to securing the cattle panel to the t-bars.
Step 4 – Securing the cattle panels
I would suggest you have the biggest zip ties that will fit into the holes in the t-bar. We were out of that size so we used what we had and put some extra burly ones around the top and bottom of the posts. We didn’t use every hold on the t-bar but me used more than half. If you want to use all of them and you have enough zip ties then go for it. So at this point you are effectively done!
Step 5 – Admiring your work and planting some food
I added this step because honestly I was so in love with them I spent a great deal of time just marvelling at my gorgeous new arches. McDonals ain’t got nothing on my arches LOL. I then set about to planting all along the bottom of the panels. Here is a list of what I am aiming to grow on my new cattle panel arches.
- Red kuri squash
- Charentais melons (I have also grown these hydroponically)
- Boston pickling cucumber
- Chicago pickling cucumber
- Kajari melons
- Rich sweetness melons
- Sugar baby watermelon
- Golden midget watermelon
- China jade cucumber
- Slipery silks pole beans
- Kentucky wonder beans
- Rattlesnake beans
- Purple podded beans
- Tetra squash
- Old homestead pole beans
Soon these cattle panel arch trellises will be BURSTING with life in just a month or two and I couldn’t be more excited. With how easy they were to install I wish I had done them years ago and I will definitely be finding other places to stash one or two more of these glorious trellises. I can’t wait to see how much more I can grow now that I am including vertical gardening on my micro homestead!