Keeping vining plants off the ground and growing vertically minimizes diseases, and is a good use of space in a small garden. This segment shows an easy-to-make vertical frame made from a cattle panel and discusses new uses for tomato cages.
If you have a small garden area, you can make better use of your space by encouraging your vegetables to grow vertically. Training your vegetables to grow upright can also be beneficial for minimizing problems with diseases, and keeps your vegetables clean and in good condition.
One of the easiest things to do is to get a cattle panel, and make a trellis out of it – which is what you see here. The trellis is made out of a 16-foot cattle panel that has been cut in half, and clipped together with hog rings. The trellis can then be set into your garden soil, and the plants will be trained to grow up the trellis.
Vegetables that are great for vertical gardening are tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash, or beans can be grown on a vertical system such as a trellis. Cucumbers and melons can take up lots of space in the garden. By putting them on a trellis and supporting the fruit, you can have a smaller space used for those same crops.
Pole beans are another option. In a small garden, you often can’t plant enough bush beans to get a good yield. But if you plant a pole bean on a trellis, then you’ll have more beans over the course of the summer than you would have space for otherwise.
If you’re going to use a trellis for vertical gardening, a lot of vegetables are going to need a little bit of help to get them started climbing up the trellis. Sometimes you can do that just by guiding the tendrils of the plants to wrap around the trellis or to weave them in and out of the trellis.
However, with cucumbers or melons, you may need a little extra help. So, clips may come in handy. Clips or ties will help connect the vines to the trellis and support the plants as they grow up so that they start to wrap their tendrils around the trellis, and then use the trellis for their support on their own.
Another method that you can use for vertical gardening is to use tomato cages. We’re used to using tomato cages to help your tomatoes grow vertically, but you can also use a tomato cage to grow cucumbers, squash, melons, or vining crops such as pole beans.
This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.
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