Saturday, April 19, 2014

Growing Vertically

I am very interested in making the most of my space for my garden.  While one option is to get rid of most of my lawn, which I do plan to do one day, I am currently courting less drastic options.  Vertical growing is an excellent way to maximize use of space. There are many different ways that plants can use their plant parts to climb.

I am excited to apply vertical gardening to my squash plants this year, as they tend to sprawl out and dominate my garden.  Sunset and others suggests using an arched or slanted trellis to grow squash and melons, because the trellis will allow for good air circulation, reducing mildew and keeping the squash from rotting.  Some heavy dangling fruits require support like nylon slings to keep the fruit attached to the plant.

Picture of an arched squash trellis from computer programmer Jeff Epler's blog (
A melon sling made using pantyhose from the Will Seed for Food blog.
A "cattle panel" fence piece used to create a slanted trellis for squash.  This is the design that I will likely go with for my garden.  This image is from the Trellis-netting company, which sells different types of vertical garden supports.  Gardener's Supply also sells this item.

We also plan on growing my cucumbers vertically.  I think we will use our fence trellis (pictured) to do this.  Veggie Gardener has great instructions on how to build a cucumber trellis.

This year, we are going to try to use "poles" to support our pole beans. We planted two bean plants for each pole.  As they grow, we plan to wrap them around each pole.

Here are the little bean plants near each pole.

We are also growing peas in our containers.  We plan on using plastic "chicken fence" as a lattice for our peas.  We will see how it goes.  We are growing our peas closer together this year in an attempt to get a bigger harvest.  Last year we yielded about 4 pea pods from our 4 pea plants growing on our fence trellis. 

Here is an expanded view of one of our two pea containers.

Last year, we had a lot of trouble with the tomatoes being unruly and taking over the garden.  We were using the Ultomato tomato supports last year with limited success.  I might try a different method this year so my garden will be more orderly.

The Florida weave is a popular way to support tomatoes, as it is cost and time effective.  This is how Wasatch Community Gardens supports most of their tomatoes.  This image is from an excellent article on tomato support by the Vegetable Gardener.

This photo is from Rick's Roots, where he describes a technique of using a weighted string to train tomatoes, while eliminating tomato suckers.  The Plant and Plate blog has some good directions for string training tomatoes.

This website has many excellent budget trellis designs.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Friend's Garden

We recently visited our good friend, Brandon, and was inspired by his massive garden.  He showed us a ton of seedling peppers, among other baby vegetable plants. He was nice enough to give me permission to show off his awesome plot on my blog!

Using a borrowed tiller and stakes and string, Brandon made neat long rows with furrows in between.  He is lucky enough to be renting a house with water rights.  He uses the furrows for flood irrigation.

The windows in the foreground are cold frames - mini greenhouses used to harden off plants and start plants early.  You can learn to build these from the sustain life website, This Old House, or  The mounds in the background are for melons.  They are surrounded by burlap coffee sacks, to keep the melons off the ground and to provide mulch.  
Brandon is using mounds to plant his melons.  Each mound has plenty of space around it, as melons like to spread out.  Melon plants like intensive watering, but they do not like to hang out in soggy soil.  Melon mounds allow for good drainage.  Based on the helpful gardener forum, melon mounds stem back from farmers using compost heaps as a place to grow melons.  They also allow for one to plant seeds deeply for good germination and root development.

A frame for a greenhouse.  I forgot to ask Brandon what he was planning for this.

A very nice compost bin.  To build the bin, Brandon stood five pallets on end (tall dimension is vertical) and held them together with long boards, including one on top for extra support.  The light brown material in the second bin is coffee chaff.  This Ehow article says chaff contributes nitrogen to garden soil and it can be used as a mulch.  I have tried using it as a mulch and find that straw works better.  The barismo blog has excellent information on chaff!

We always enjoy visiting our friend Brandon.  Hopefully, we can give y'all an update on his huge garden this season.