Upright Gardening: A Use For Hay Twine

I realize that many of my readers don’t have 25 miles of hay twine lying around, but I just love finding and sharing about frugal uses for things that normally have no practical use.   We’ve had goats for going on seven years now [SEVEN YEARS? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?] and the bales of hay are tied together with a nylon twine.  Over the years I’ve viewed the piles and piles of pieces of hay twine and wished I could figure out something to do with it.  I’ve tried doing macrame with it, but the pieces aren’t that long and if you don’t make a point to cut the twine right near the knot then your pieces are even shorter.  It doesn’t tie together well, I mean, it knots together okay, but then you have this honking knot instead of a smooth length of twine. I’ve been inspired since tying this netting together, and have had a couple more ideas. One is to weave together individual netting to cradle the watermelons that will be growing vertically.

Vertical Gardening With Hay Twine

With my most recent Amazon Gift Certificate I decided to order a book on square foot gardening which I’ve seen frequently at Amazon, but never read.  I’ve always used the techniques for intensive – or square foot gardening – described by Duane Newcomb.

I wasn’t too impressed with the book… maybe I’ll do a review on it, but the guy definitely doesn’t live in the desert. A lot of his recommendations would not work for us here in Arizona.  But I did like his chapter on vertical gardening, specifically the part where he shows you how to build a section with conduit and mesh.  I have grown my crops vertically before, but haven’t found any method that I was happy with. The mesh he uses got me to thinking; only I didn’t want to go try to track down the mesh he uses (I hate looking for oddball items). I got to thinking the hay twine might come in handy. You could probably pick up something similar at Walmart or a hardware store.  The mesh I put together took about 200 feet of twine.

I went out into Mr. A’s “stuff” piles and started looking around to see what I could find. At first I had hoped I could steal Mr. A away from his current job and get him to drill some holes in a piece of metal or wood and help me erect it into the garden.  He was too busy though, so I went to looking again on Saturday morning. I found these pieces of metal that are bent into an “L” shape and they have holes every foot or so.

My original plan to grow my vining plants close to the perimeter has not been working out so well because the watermelon keeps vining its way OUT of the garden completely. Luckily the area had chicken wire protecting it since I’m still shielding the sunflowers from the birds and critters.  But had the chicken wire not been there, the growing tips of the watermelon plants poking through would surely have been eaten off.

I decided that bed could use help first, especially since the watermelon vines were growing to be 18 inches and longer. They put out little strings to wrap round and round anything to hold onto, so the longer I waited, the more I’d have to fight with the little ties.

I wasn’t sure how to erect the “L” shaped pieces, they were too tall for the garden. But then I realized I could work them through the chicken wire covering the top of the garden, which would serve as a brace to hold them in position. I pushed them up through the top, then got them into the position I wanted them beside the bed and pushed into the moist dirt. Here’s a photo of the top part.

At The Top

I couldn’t go too far down, since chicken wire lines the bottom of the beds to prevent the gophers from digging in and eating the watermelon plants.

Then I started tying on the hay twine. I tied a strand through each hole going horizontally first. That was about six strands. Then I put a strand in between each of those strands, just tied onto the pole (there are only six holes in the pole to tie the twine securely into). Then I started at the bottom and worked my way up, tying a slip knot onto each strand. The really cool thing about doing that is it’s really easy to move the strand over to the left or right if that would work better for the vining plant.

Here’s a closer picture of the watermelon vines and how I’ve wrapped them around the hay twine.

Growing Watermelon Vertically

I’m very excited about this idea. I found a use for hay twine – three strings on each bale, and I used 22 for this netting, and the watermelon will have a place to grow without trying to poke its way out of the garden where birds can nip off the growing tip.

It didn’t take that long to put this together. Probably 30-40 minutes for the first one.  I also put up another one over the green bean bed – that one, since I had my technique down, probably took less than 20 minutes.  It was a typical Saturday morning’s worth of gardening work, except it’s getting darn hot out there!  It was probably close to 90 degrees when I finally came inside.  I always take a big glass of ice water with me, my camera, the home phone, my gardening bucket with everything I might need, and I wear a nice big hat for shade.

I need to get all the extraneous stuff done in the garden so I don’t have to spend so much time out there. I don’t mind spending the time, it’s just getting hot earlier so it’s very uncomfortable. On the days I do need to spend a couple hours, I’d better start getting out there earlier!  I usually am up by 4:30 or 5 (would you believe I used to be a night owl?) so it wouldn’t be too difficult.

Find more of my gardening posts by clicking on my “gardening” tag.

This post was included at the Make It From Scratch Carnival, held at It’s Frugal Being Green on May 19th, 2009.

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12 thoughts on “Upright Gardening: A Use For Hay Twine

  1. Great idea! I have miles and miles of twine! One horse, and one or two cows means LOTS of twine. You might like an idea I am trying this year, I saw it in High-Yeild Gardening, a book from Rodale Press. Join two parallel trellises with an arch over a walkway, grow something vining up both sides, and you have a shady spot to get out of the sun.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Damia! You know what I’m talking about then, with 25 miles of hay twine. LOL. That’s probably not even too much of an exaggeration. I love that idea for the archway, I will have to look into that! Thanks for visiting and commenting!!


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  3. Interesting post. I like the comment from Damia. I made one of those when I was living in Hobbs NM but I did not get to use twine. I did use some hog wire and it worked beautifully. I forget what our Crawler was, but it did not take long to cover it over and we only had it growing on one side.

    But if you don’t have mounds of twine lying around you can buy a roll for cheap that will give you about 25 miles from one end to the other.

    I am pretty new to Arizona and am trying to grow a garden for the first time in a solid clay back yard. well not really a garden. A few tomatoes and peppers. They are not growing like the use to in Missouri. Got any suggestions about making these guys kick off. Some of them have been planted for a month or more and still like I just put them in the ground :(.


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