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Vermont Garden Journal: Growing Vegetables Vertically

06/29/12 5:55PM
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Are you having trouble fitting all your varieties into your veggie garden this year? Grow up. Not you, but your tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons. Growing vegetables vertically saves space, time, energy and produces a better quality crop. While we all know about growing pole beans on well, poles, peas on fences, and tomatoes on stakes, there are reasons to trellis other veggies too such as peppers, melons, and cucumbers. Here's a rundown on going vertical in your veggie garden.

Unless you're growing dwarf varieties, most tomatoes need support. A simple 6 foot stake pounded next to the tomato and attached with twine will do, but a 6 foot tall, heavy duty metal cage is better at supporting your plants when they're large and when thunderstorms are brewing. Save the light weight smaller cages to place around peppers and eggplants. They're just the right size to keep these plants upright and producing more fruit.

While I've seen elaborate teepee and fencing systems for tomatoes, this year I'm trying the stake and weave method. I pounded 6 foot tall stakes after every 2 tomatoes in a row, then wove heavy duty twine around one side of the first tomato plant, the other side of the next tomato and then attached it the each post. At the end of the row, I wove back in the opposite direction creating a figure eight pattern to hold the plants. I'll create lines spaced one foot apart up the post to support my tomatoes.

For cucumbers, use a 45 degree angled wooden or metal trellis. Cukes climb better on an angle . Support cantaloupes and vining summer squash plants on a heavy duty, A-frame trellis and support their fruits with panty hose or strong nylon cloth attached to the structure.

For this week's tip, water spring planted shrubs and trees deeply a few times a week with at least 5 gallons of water per plant. This will insure they survive the hot, dry summer.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about ways to water. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Training Systems for Tomatoes
Vegetables Grown on a Trellis


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