To welcome back our EarlyON educators and little explorers from the BGC Hamilton Halton and their families, at EcoHouse this month we created a bean garden tent for them to enjoy. The EarlyON Woodland program utilizes Forest School methods to engage children in play and learning entirely outdoors. To make the bean tent, we used materials we had at hand and a little creativity. Here are our 4 winning steps to create your own bean tent in your own backyard.
Step 1 – Use what you have!
Our process began by organizing all our ash trunks by size and picking a spot on the property with sun and shade which could use some lovely bean foliage. Anywhere from 6 – 12 long stemmed poles of any kind will work to create a bean tent large enough for kids to play in. Our materials included young ash tree trunks and branches, twine, compost and mulch. Based on the space available you may also include buckets to support your structure if the ground is particularly challenging to dig up.
Step 2 – Find some Sun!
Once you’ve got your materials picked out, it’s time to start visualizing where your bean tent would fit best. Finding a spot with lots of sun coverage is important, in order to match the required hours of sun recommended for your beans to grow. With ample space on site and hoping to have more than one child enjoy the tent at a time, we opted for a large cone shaped tent using 10 poles approximately 2 meters tall. Follow the hands on the clock dial starting with 12 and 6, followed by 3 and 9 to evenly space out your poles. To ensure an even more secure structure we dug roughly 6 inches into the ground for each stake, making sure to also tie our twine around multiple stakes individually at the top.
Step 3 – Get Everyone Involved
Whether you are picking out the materials, the location or the type of plant you want to grow onto your tent, involving others in the process not only allows for creative ideas but also helps the work get done faster. Our high school volunteers were up to the challenge and helped to lay out an initial newspaper layer over the grass, wheelbarrow over mulch and compost and plant our bean seeds in a little over a half hour. The more the merrier could not have been more true for our project!
Step 4 – Plant anything that climbs – don’t forget to water and guide them up!
We chose a pole bean for its fast growing tendencies as well as its lovely red flowers in order to cover our bean tent. Feel free to embellish your tent poles with other materials you may have such as any overgrown vines or handmade decorations made by the kids! Because of our abundance of materials we opted to add a horizontal lattice of branches to help strengthen the structure and give the beans an additional place to grab onto but they aren’t necessary and the plants can always be helped up individual poles with a little bit of guidance.
Are you looking for some inspiration for plants to grow on your tent? Click here for a list of climbing vegetable plants by Garden & Happy!
EarlyON Woodland meets every Wednesday at EcoHouse. To find out more and register to attend:
Photos by Jess & Rebecca