Grow up! If you grow vertically the sky is the limit, literally! So gather your bamboo, your tomato cages, your twine and let’s grow UP!
The How and Why of Growing Vertically
I’ve already mentioned one of the major benefits of growing vertically- it saves space! But it’s not the only reason to grow vertically. Growing up is actually better for the plants too.
Plants that are sprawling on the ground have a higher chance of disease, damage, and pests. If you grow vertically, your plants will:
- Have more air flow around them. Allowing them to dry quicker after rains and watering. This can reduce diseases caused by wetness too!
- Be less susceptible to damage caused by kids, pets, even you. You won’t have to move vines around to see ripening fruits or accidentally step on vines spilling into the walkways.
- Have less damage by pests since you will be able to see and pick off pests better and there are less hiding places for the bugs.
How do you grow vertically? That’s pretty easy actually, it’s just a matter of choosing the right plants and the right supports for those plants.
The Best Crops to Grow Vertically
Almost any crop can be grown in a more vertical fashion, but vining vegetables are best suited for these techniques. These include:
- Peas of any sort
- Pole beans
- Winter and Summer Squash
- Melons- with additional support for the fruit
If you grow all of these types of vegetable on a trellis, you will be freeing up a lot of room at the base of these plants for other low growing veggies!
How to Support Your Vertical Vegetables
When it comes to support there are a ton of options. For the most part you can get a lot of the supports for free or cheap- all you probably need to buy is some twine for tying veggies to the supports. Here are a couple of my favorite supports for growing vertically.
Check Out: 9 Gardening Supplies You Can Get for Free
Bamboo Poles: Cut bamboo is what I use most for supporting my vertically grown vegetables. I like to make a teepee out of 4 long poles and then wind twine around it from top to bottom. This is an especially good option for beans, peas, and cucumbers.
Fencing Panels: I use fencing panels attached to the ground with metal t-posts for most all my veggies. These are great for heavier crops like winter squashes. Fencing panels is what I use for the bulk of my tomatoes.
Check Out: 5 Ways to Stake Tomatoes
Other Crops: Sometimes companion planting is the best way to easily grow vertically! Try using cornstalks or tall sunflowers to support vining veggies like pole beans and other dry beans.
Twine: Twine will be your best friend when you grow vertically in your garden. You can use it with any type of post- bamboo, metal, fallen limbs, etc. You can dangle strings from an A-frame for peas and beans. You can wrap rows of twine between 2 vertical posts to act as a fence. It’s an easy and cheap way to create a trellis for your plants.
Tips for Successful Vertical Growing
Most crops- like peas and pole beans- will grow vertically naturally without a lot of help from you. Certain crops will require your help to get them growing in the right direction. Crops like cucumbers and squash do have tendrils that will grab onto a trellis, but because of the weight of the vines and fruit, you will need to tie up the stems as they grow. Eventually they may start weaving in and out of the fencing/support on their own, but until then you will need to help them out, so be sure to check and tie new growth at least once a week.
Once the plant begins to bear fruit, you will need to check the fruits for proper growth and supports as they ripen. Melons in particular will need support in the form of a hammock or the stems will snap from weight.
I have never needed to support squash on a trellis. Even very large Candy Roaster squash grew just fine. I have had some squashes grow in the middle of a fence which made harvesting near impossible, so check your fruits as they grow so you can make sure none of them get stuck in your trellis!
And think, now that your cucumber and squash vines aren’t taking over all the space you can grow even more! What will you do with all that space on the ground?
© 2017, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.