Vertical Gardening for Healthier Vegetables & Fruit

building a trellis vertical garden

Vertical gardening can give you healthier plants and more growing space.

It's time to rethink how you grow your vegetables and fruits. Anything that has a viney habit (including indeterminate tomatoes) can be trained up a trellis system -- even smaller melons can do well on trellises if the fruits are supported. Read on to see how trellising can make your garden healthier, and make summer in the garden easier for you. We'll talk about the melon issue too.

Seven Reasons to Grow Up Not Out

  1. Increase your growing space when your vegetables climb trellises instead of snaking out in beds.
  2. Better air circulation means fewer problems with plant diseases.
  3. As plants grow up a trellis the fruit is exposed to more sunlight for faster ripening, instead of being shaded on the ground.
  4. Do you have cucumbers in your garden? Cornell University points out that growing cucumbers on a trellis gives you straighter fruit.
  5. It's easier to harvest vegetables and fruit when they are spread out on a trellis, and not hiding under sprawling ground-level leaves.
  6. No crop loss from rot either, as can happen when a ripe vegetable gets "lost" under leaves.
  7. The University of Minnesota says that being up off the ground means slugs are unlikely to reach your crops.

    So Many Ways to Trellis Crops

    In our video on Plant Support Options, Tricia shows the different kinds of trellises she uses in her garden. Build your own trellises with bamboo stakes and zip ties, in raised beds or a traditional garden. As in the photo at the top of the article, make tepees with bamboo and hemp twine,
    the mesh Hortonova Trellis works when spread as a horizontal support for these Sweet Marconi Red Peppers. Or use Hortonova Trellis vertically for climbing vegetables like these cucumbers. Want to go ultra-simple? Look at the trellis system for these pole beans. To create this, place ground staples in the soil and run hemp twine through them, then up and over a support. At the end of the season you can cut down the twine with the remaining vines and compost it all. Of course, do not compost any plants that had diseases.

    Now, About Those Melons

    Ripen melons without rot worries when you grow them on trellises. This won't work for giant pumpkins, but smaller melons, under 3 pounds each, will do well on a strong trellis. To keep them on the vine while they ripen, give them some support -- as the University of Minnesota points out, a ripe melon will slip off its vine. Try this with small winter squash too. Take wide strips of cloth (or pantyhose) and tie them to the trellis, to create slings to hold the melons as they grow. Make sure the slings are large enough to allow the fruit to get to its maximum size. For a strong, breathable, stretchy material we recommend our mesh tubing, which can be cut to any length.

    What do you think -- is it time to grow up?

    Additional Information and Resources

    Enjoy our companion resource for building DIY trellis structures. We have many types of tomato seeds for sale!

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