How to: make a summer vegetable tepee
For space saving nothing beats a tepee!
A single structure will provide a punnet of cherry tomatoes every second night, 12kg of larger tomatoes, bundles of cucumber and buckets of beans.
Sandra plants out the first of the summer vegetable tepees. Photo - Linda Ross
Our summer veg tepee will have you harvesting 36kg of vegetables from one square metre over three months! Make a six-pole-bam boo-tepee as high as you can, then plant two tomatoes, two cucumbers, four climbing beans and six lettuce in the middle. No room in the garden? Plant the same arrangement in a wine barrel. Here’s how to do it.
Add blood and bone, cow manure, garden lime and potash to the soil before planting.
Insert six 3m stakes (preferably bamboo) into the soil at a diameter of 1m. Tie them at the top to form a tepee.
At the base of each stake plant one each of the vegetables listed in the box: seedlings of the same vegetable should be opposite each other. The shaded centre in the tepee is a good spot for hearting lettuce such as butter and cos.
Water seedlings in with seaweed solution. Repeat the seaweed solution fortnightly until the tomatoes start to flower, then switch to a liquid fertiliser such as Harvest, Powerfeed for Vegies, Thriveor your own comfrey fertiliser tea.
Continue to liquid feed. Encourage bees for better pollination and bigger harvests by growing flowers such as lavender, borage and rosemary nearby.
Top tepee choices
‘Tommy Toe’ tomato. A single plant will yield 12kg of large, red, cherry tomatoes with a deliciously sweet flavour.
‘Yellow Pear’ tomato. This small, yellow, pear-shaped tomato with low acid and mild flavour offers a great a colour contrast.
‘White Crystal Apple’ cucumber. One plant will produce at least 25 20cm-long, white-skinned cucumbers. We love them cold, crisp, peeled and served with lashings of Greek yogurt and salt and pepper.
‘Lebanese’ cucumber. This is a popular cucumber with dark green skin to about 15cm. The skin is edible and the flesh is sweet and low in acid.
‘Purple King’ climbing bean. This is a high-yielding bean. They turn green on cooking but can be eaten raw and purple when young.
‘Blue Lake’ climbing bean. This prolific plant will yield 5-8kg of sweet and tender green beans. A bonus of growing beans on the tepee is that their self-clinging habits helps the tomato and cucumber vines to be tied in against the structure
Text: Linda Ross