Climbing crops like snow peas require a fence or trellis for support. The trellis doesn't have to be ruler-straight to be effective; it just needs wide mesh to weave the vines through, with a little help from you.
The fence we made coils into a sinuous spiral. Besides throwing a curve into the usually angular vegetable garden, it saves space and is less likely to topple in wind. In addition to snow peas, you can use it to support bush cucumbers, bush squash, some nasturtiums, and sweet peas.
We borrowed the idea from Gary Nigro, a vegetable gardener in Reno, Nevada. Nigro wanted to use leftover cattle fencing to make trellises in his vegetable garden, but he found that keeping it from coiling was a challenge. He decided to work with that tendency rather than fight it.
We used fiberglass rebar poles, but you can substitute bamboo or wood poles.
COST: About $25
TOOLS: Hammer or mallet and wire cutters
• 7 poles, each 5 feet long
• 21 feet of 3-foot-wide, 2-inch-mesh plastic-coated fencing
• 21 or more plastic-coated twist ties
• Soaker hose
• 1 packet snow pea seeds (we used 'Oregon Giant')
1. Using the drawing above as a guide, set out the poles at approximately 3-foot intervals. Pound each pole 1 foot into the ground to secure.
2. Using wire cutters, cut off a 21-foot-length from your fencing roll.
3. Attach fencing to the poles. Start at the center pole and secure fencing, top, middle, and bottom, using twist ties. Continue uncoiling wire and securing to remaining poles (you may need to reposition the last one).
4. Lay soaker hose. Place capped end at the spiral's center and continue around the inside to the other end.
5. Plant seeds of snow peas, or other low, vining crops, following package directions, along the outside of the fencing.