i spent the better part of the day yesterday putting up the new bean arch. although last years arch was very cool we completely changed our construction material. last year bamboo was the obvious choice. it was free, it seemed strong enough and it is a completely renewable resource. the unforeseeable downfalls were when it rained and got wet it flexed and couldn't hold the weight of wet bean leaves. i repaired it several times. this year cattle panels are used. they are pricey but if they don't work we will have many other uses for them around the farm.
another thing we learned was we only really like *rattlesnake pole beans* the other one we tried, missouri wonder, was vastly inferior. it was tough and a very pronounced string and not nearly as tasty. besides the *rattlesnake* has a beautiful purple flame design that disappears when cooked. it is like the turkey timer that pops out when done.
we made one alteration that might be risky. last year we noticed that the south end of the bean arch produced substantially more beans than any other part of the arch. i assumed that it was because of lack of competition with other beans for sunlight. in an attempt to replicate this we opted to make five separate bean arches each three and a half feet apart. these are still lined up to form a long tunnel but they might produce more beans from fewer plants. we'll see, it is always a learning experience.