This is such a fun spring/summer project. Not only will your kids love to watch the progress of their new fort, by the end of the summer they’ll be able to sit in there and actually eat their veggies! The bean tepee in the photos here is the one that is currently growing in my parents garden, and our 3 year old loves it! My dad is an awesome gardener, so I’m sharing with you his tips on how-to make a bean plant tepee for yourself!
To start, get yourself some bean plant seeds! These need to be the VINE-TYPE beans, not bush beans. Sometimes these can be harder to find, as many people don’t want to deal with the climbing varieties.
The Kentucky Wonder variety has great flavor and does really well in the Pacific Northwest. Here in Oregon, a great time to start planting your bean seeds is mid-May, but you’ll have to do a little research for your specific climate as to what varieties will do best, and the best time to plant.
When you’ve found the right beans, till up the soil. Lay the beans on the surface of your dirt in the size and shape you’d like for your structure (about 4-5 inches apart, or what it says on your seed packet), so you can visualize where the edges of your tepee will be. (Notice, the poles are not involved yet..)
Poke the seeds about an inch into the soil with your fingers. (Be sure to follow the specific watering and planting instructions for your seed variety and climate zone on the packet.)
If you’d like to leave a space for the opening of your tepee as you’re planting, that’s fine. Another option (and what our family tends to do) is to plant the beans all the way around the structure, and cut an opening once the bean plants have grown and filled in.
Once your plants start coming up, you can place your poles! It’s up to you how many poles you use, depending on the shape you’d like your structure to be. You can see here that my dad used 4 poles this year.
Sign up for our Newsletter and get our "Top 5 Morning Mom-Hacks" AND Home Cleaning Schedule & Checklist delivered to your inbox!
You can get poles to use at most hardware stores (like Lowes or Home Depot) or gardening stores. They’re actually called “Bean Poles” and are typically made of either wood or metal with a plastic coating (pictured). Make sure that your poles are pushed firmly enough into the soil that they won’t fall over. Tie the top with wire to stabilize.
Now to create something between the bean poles for the vines to climb up, you can use binder twine or landscaping twine. It’s best if you can use something that will stay tight.
Most of the time, the plants will grow up the structure on their own, but it doesn’t hurt to check their progress and help out a little from time to time. Every once in a while, the shoots will start crawling outwards on the ground instead of up the poles.
Once your plants are grown and matured (which will probably take a couple of months), you can cut an opening and your kiddos will have a blast playing in their garden fort and picking beans for the rest of the summer!
Here’s how it looks today! The plants are just starting to get buds on them!
If you’re working on your own bean plant tepee and have questions, feel free to leave them here and I’m happy to answer them! Good luck!
(And if you’re looking for some other fun outdoor activities, check out this recent post for fun outdoor ideas for toddlers.)