Get your beans growing skyward with a tuteur.
Tuteur is French for ‘trainer’ and pronounced the same as that tutor who helped you through middle school algebra.
What is a tuteur?
Tuteurs are 3- or 4-legged obelisk-shaped trellises used to provide a climbing structure for peas and pole beans and other climbing plants. Actually, a tuteur can have as many legs as you like, as long as it is sturdy enough to not topple over.
Traditionally, tuteurs were nothing more than a handful of branches lashed together at the top and spread apart at the bottom, teepee-style. Placed over young pea and pole bean plants, these structures provided supports for young tendrils to wrap around as they climb toward sunlight.
Like other forms of vertical gardening, tuteurs take up less space while expanding your growing options. They also reduce pod exposure to fungal spores and slugs and snails, and they create interesting focal points in your garden.
While you can certainly buy a tuteur, they are very easy to make and odds are good that you already have all the materials you need to make one for free.
How to make a tuteur
At its most basic level, a tuteur can be nothing more than 4 long poles lashed together near the top, with the legs spread out at the bottom. At the other end of the design spectrum, you can construct an ornate obelisk, complete with gazing globes, wind chime, or whatever strikes your fancy. Whatever design you choose, keep in mind that some plants can become substantial, so you will want your tuteur to be sturdy enough to handle whatever will be using it for support. Of course, once the tendrils do all their winding and climbing, they will add a measure of stability to whatever structure they climb.
To create a simple tuteur, you can use bamboo poles, scrap untreated lumber, tree branches, rebar, and many other reusable materials, following these steps:
I threw this one together in less than 10 minutes, using old bamboo poles and some twist ties. It isn’t strong enough for anything heavier than peas and beans, but it’s handy and can be taken apart easily at the end of the growing season.
If your tuteur is sturdy enough, you can also use it to grow cucumbers, squash, and melons. If your crop is particularly large, you may want to provide some extra support, in the form of a hammock.
If you want to get really fancy, you can weave vines or willow boughs into your tuteur to provide extra toeholds for tendrils, while creating an artistic look. There are many online instructions for tuteurs, so try making one for your garden today!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!