An Arch to be Rivalled

I have been dabbling a little bit in making my own cold process soap.  It is a bit fun because it reminds me of my time in a previous life working in laboratories.  It is all about weighing out the ingredients exactly and getting all geared up in safety gear – goggles and gloves and using dangerous chemicals.  I love it.  I just make it for us and haven’t been too adventurous with it yet, but there are loads of cool things that can be done with it. 

Broken Arch
There is no recovery for this mangled arch and it never got the opportunity hold up any plants.

Tying this in with the garden, I am really excited to grow luffas this year as this adds a whole new level of fun when processing them.  I have grown then for many years and I found them great to help scrub off the dirt from a grubby gardener hands after a hard day in the garden and as an exfoliator for gently sorting out dry skin.  So just thinking about the combined potential of these benefits and soap making magic!  They are also great in the kitchen as a natural scrubber that can be composted when it has nothing left to give.    

Rebar supports
The rebar poles were measured out and banged into the ground.

Since we moved to this new garden I haven’t had much luck growing luffa.  The first season I grew them as seedlings but dithered about so much about where I would plant them they died, and it was too late to start again.   The thing is they do best when growing up a frame of sorts and I just didn’t have plan for this.

Irrigation hose arches
The irrigation pipe made a great natural arch shape when put over the rebar supports.

Last year I acquired one of those powder coated metal arches and excitedly assembled it and popped it in the pumpkin area.  This was also a little late in the season and so buy the time my luffa seedlings made it into the ground, life was against them as they didn’t get a chance to settle in before it got too hot and they didn’t make it. 

Trellis attached to the arch
Hubby the Un-Gardener was a great help attaching the cable ties while I held the trellis tight.

It was my intention this year to get it right, but we had a storm and it completely destroyed my arch.  I have to say it was a tad disappointing, but on close examination it became evident the salty sea air had not been kind to my arch and had completely rusted it out.   So, I had to give the arch concept a rethink and came up with what I think is a great idea for an arch to last in this harsh environment.

Cable tie trellis
Cable ties are perfect to hold it all together.

I used rebar to support the old arch because to be honest it did look a little flimsy, so it was an easy leap to think of them as support for the new arch and I spaced them out to suit all my materials and banged them into the ground

trimming the trellis
It turns out I had just the right amount of trellis, once I cut off the little bit extra

Then I got some of my irrigation hose that should probably have been used to finish setting up the irrigation… and threaded it down over one side of the rebar and then deciding on a nice natural looking curve at the top I measured it down to the ground on the other side and cut it off.  I pulled it all off and used the first length to measure another exactly the same side and threaded them both over the rebar to form two hoops. 

bamboo supports
Bamboo supports across the width helps keep it rigid.

I had to get Hubby the Un-Gardener to help out with an extra pair of hands as I attached plastic trellis to the hose hoops with cable ties.  I tried my best to make them evenly spaced on both sides but was generous with the cable ties and used loads of them.  It is windy here so I’m taking no chances.  

home made arch
And there you have it – a wonderful arch ready to give some great support to my luffas.

As I stood back, I realised it was all a bit floppy in places and it needed cross support, so I cut up some bamboo poles to help hold the trellis taught and used even more cable ties.  And just like that I had a lovely arch to grow up my luffa this season.  All I need to do is sow the seed and next week is the perfect time to do that and I’ll be sowing them along with the cucumbers and pumpkins in the 4th wave of seed sowing I’ve done this season.  I’ve been breaking the seed sowing into batches so it doesn’t become a tedious chore, and some do need less of a head start on the season than others. 

And there you have it, a bit of creativity prompted by a need and it is amazing what you can come up with.

Come again soon – things are coming along great as I prepare for what I hope will be a fabulous growing season.

Sarah the Gardener : o)

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