vertical gardening

Enjoy the Benefits of Vertical Growing Techniques

Practical vertical growing techniques for your garden

Vertical growing techniques are practical ways to keep your vegetables off the ground, free of disease, and easy to harvest. Use these methods whenever possible to improve production and get more usable growing space. There are nearly as many  options for vertical growing as there are varieties of vegetables. The trick is finding—or building—the most practical vertical support for your needs.

Tomatoes and vine crops are big space-wasters when allowed to sprawl along the ground. They can easily be trained upward on trellises. Many vegetables, including peas, pole beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, and tomatoes, will naturally climb a support or can be trained to grow upwards, leaving more ground space for other crops.

Some of the possible support structures include cages, stakes, trellises, strings, teepees, chicken wire, hog panels or existing fences. Let your imagination take over when you’re planning to use vertical growing techniques!

vertical growing techniques

Pole beans need support

Pole beans, which climb by spiralling around supports, and tall peas and cucumbers, whose short tendrils cling to supports, are naturals for vertical growing.

Support the pole beans vines on a 6-7 foot high frame with top and bottom stringers of heavy gauge wire or sturdy wood. Lace strong twine vertically between the them. Train the young tendrils to wind a round two or three times. From then on, only occasional training will be necessary.

Alternatively, build a freestanding teepee of poles 8 to 10 feet high. Anchor each pole in the ground, and fasten the top ends together. Encourage the young bean tendrils to twine around the poles. You’ll be amazed at the quantity of bean pods on your teepee, and how easy they are to pick.

Clingers like peas can get by with shorter supports, up to 5-6 feet in height. Chicken wire or wire fencing stretched over a vertical frame works well. Wooden lattice panels, embedded in the soil for solid footing, provide an attractive support. Small pea tendrils cannot wrap around it, so place netting in front of the trellis.

Vining crops such as peas and cucumbers grow nicely on wire-covered A-frame structures. When the produce is ready for harvest, it will be within comfortable reach from either side. These frames are also a good choice for supporting heavier melons and squash.

Cucumbers don’t require a heavy-duty trellis; hog panels (sturdy galvanized wire panels), string mesh or chicken wire work well. Construct the vertical growing framework before you even start to plant. Space cucumber seeds or plants on either side of the trellis approximately one foot apart.

You can keep the plants closer  together because they benefit from the greater exposure to sunlight and they aren’t as susceptible to disease from overlapping foliage or contact with the earth. The cucumbers also grow straighter when trained to grow vertically and are easier to find and harvest.

vertical growing techniques

Support melons and squash with a sling.

Others in the cucurbit family, such as melons, pumpkins, and squash, can be trained to grow vertically if they are tied to strong supports. Strong, tall support structures and slings to support individual fruit are needed for these. Since these vines do not climb, they must be trained upward to drape over supports and fastened in place..

Tomatoes can be encouraged to grow vertically using cages or stakes. The fruit will be held above the soil, discouraging any rotting or mildew. For vigorous tomato hybrids, cages should be 5-6 feet in height and 2 feet across. Use large mesh, galvanized fencing and form it into a cylinder by bending it around a barrel.

vertical growing techniques

Tomato cages and supports keep your plants upright and healthy.

Staked tomatoes should be pruned to one or two main stems and loosely tied to a 5-6 foot high stake with strips of cloth or other material. Staking usually produces largeer and cleaner fruit than unstaked tomato plants, but the yields per plant are lower.

The initial effort of staking or trellising vegetables to use vertical growing techniques might seem like a lot of extra work when you’re busy with other springtime chores, but when it comes time to harvest, you’ll be happy with your greater harvest and easy-to-reach produce.


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