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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let’s Get Vertical

We have discussed quite a few gardening methods in the recent past. Row, wide row, square foot, and sheet mulching. This article will briefly discuss one of our favorite methods for gardening, vertical gardening.

Vertical gardening is the practice of training your vegetables to grow up instead of out. Many vegetables like corn already grow vertically. Other plants are more like I am when I sit in front of the computer and watch Hulu. They like to spread out as much as possible and make themselves comfortable. Squash, melons, beans, cucumbers, peas and many other plants will spread out along the ground if you let them. The problem is that a lot of urban farmers don’t have the room to let a stubborn melon plant do what it wants. This is where vertical farming comes to the rescue.

With vertical farming you train a plant to grow to the sky and reach heights it never thought possible. You provide them with support in the form of fences, bamboo tripods, trellises, and walls. Here is an example of a bamboo trellis that we used to grow some of our charentais melons a few years ago. As the plant sends out its tendrils, we tied them to the bamboo with used panty hose, or hemp twine.
This picture shows one of the melons. It might seem like the weight of the fruit would be too heavy for the vine and rip the plant. Have confidence in your plants fellow gardeners, they are stronger than you think.
Uncle Dale has a good trellis system that he uses to help his tomatoes grow vertically and not fall over in this video. You could use a system like this for other plants as well.

Advantages of Vertical gardening
  • Uses less space than traditional gardening since plants grow up, not out.
  • Plants are less likely to rot or be diseased since they are less crowed and there is more air movement around them.
  • Produce is easier to harvest since many of the plants are on your level.
  • Reduces pest damage since some pests are not vertical climbers.
Disadvantages of Vertical Gardening

  • Requires more diligence as you have to take time to train and tie your plants up.
  • Requires more resources as your will have to buy or salvage materials to make your trellis with.

If you have a limited area for your garden, consider vertical gardening. It is an efficient and beautiful way to garden. If you have gardened with this method what have you found to be the benefits/drawbacks of the method?

~ Michael


Alexis E. said...

This is great! We will definitely be using this method for our smaller melons and beans.

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

A friend of mine used this same trellising method last year and it worked great. I plan to do the same this year and give it a try. Also, if your melons start to get too heavy, just take a panty hose and make a little sack to hold it up and tie it to your trellis. Just gives it a bit more support if your produce is doing so well that it gets over 4# or so.

daisy said...

Love this idea, Michael! I may give it a go for our cantaloupes this year. Thanks!

A Mini Beginning said...

Can't wait for it to warm up so we can put our melons and other plants outside! Love the idea! I will remember this when it FIANLLY gets warm enough to start planting outside!

Mike said...

Alexis: Try it and let us know how it works

Amy: Great Idea using panty hose.

Daisy: It should work for cantaloupes. If they get really big, check out Amy's idea above.

A Mini Beginning: I am waiting for it to warm up as well. It snowed at our house last night!


"Stringing" tomatoes is great. It creates a wall of tomato plants that are much easier to access for maintenance and harvesting.

Growing squash up onto a support that is at an angle of about 45 degrees keeps the vegetation up off the ground so pests don't have as much room to hide. The squash can dangle down through the support materials - I use hogwire - making harvesting easier.

Of course, beans and peas work great vertically.

Tying berry canes to a trellis help in harvesting and tracking which canes need to be pruned out in the fall to increase production on the new canes.

Don't forget grapes.

Ladies, if you're neverous about supporting the fruits of your vegetation, use old pantyhose. To a more humorous extent, old bras make great supports for melons!


Kate said...

I'm definitely trying this with my tomatoes this year. What a great idea for melons in a small space. If I have the materials, I think I'll try it for them, too.

Astrid in Bristling Acres said...

After many attempts at keeping my tomatoes under control I finally came upon my favorite solution- a cattle panel in my tomato beds. (very similar in concept to what was shown in the video). It really makes a difference! I've also got four bean teepees (trellises). I will say that the bamboo stakes we had used weren't tall enough/strong enough so mine are made from smaller diameter trees we cut from our property (we live in the woods). I also have a trellis system for my cucumbers. I think trellises are a great idea!!! :-)
(and easy to make)

Alyssa O'Leary said...

This is definitely something I want to try. Our future backyard is pretty small (maybe 30x30?) and I'd like to get as much produce out of it as I can.

Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm said...

Great idea Dale! Thanks!

Jennifer said...

One of my squash vines climbed up the fence and produced a 45-pound squash, requiring no additional staking or support from me.

@Maybelline: Bra-ha-ha!

Anonymous said...

I see Daybreak on your site and your area looks familiar. Im in SJ. my email is pansy567@msn.com. If you are near me would love to visit with you! You are great inspiration! Thanks, Lorie