any reason not to use tomato cages or okra?

natives_and_veggies(10b)April 28, 2008

Newbie questions:

I'm new to backyard farming, and trying to do it in a part of the world different from most of the rest of y'all (downtown Miami).... but I've found a couple types of beans and peas that claim to be hardy enough to produce in the summer in my South Florida back yard, so I'm wondering if y'all have advice.

Can I just grow them up my tomatoe cages? The tomatoes are done now, way too hot already. Will the tomato cages be stable enough?

And can they grow up the okra stalks? That seems like a neat idea, okra being one of the few other edibles that will grow here in the summer, but I feel like, if it would work, someone else would have already thought of it and been advising people like me to do it. So there's probably something about okra (maybe the little itchy hairs) that retards bean or pea growth?

I live in the city, so no one nearby knows how to grow things like black-eyed peas (which I've read can survive our summers, and which my southern self yearns for.)

Y'all got any ideas? If the tomato cages won't work, I probably don't have much time to work out something else to plant them against before it gets too hot to even bother planting them. I've got strings going up to the screws that we anchor the hurricane shutters to, in the hopes of growing beans up them. I've planted and we'll see. But there are only two viable windows for that idea. So I'm looking for more ways to grow some sort of summer food (winter is our veggie season.)

And sorry to introduce such amateur questions into the mix. I wandered over from the Florida gardenweb, where they're used to amateurs like me asking silly questions. Y'all seem pretty good at this so I'm hoping you'll suffer my foolishness.

It's times like this that I miss my grandmother and her farming advice.

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Well, I haven't tried using Okra as support for beans. My guess is that if you plant beans close to the okra, and it's already big enough to support a vine, the okra will out compete the bean for moisture & nutrients. But that's just a hunch.

I have used large tomato cages to support beans. They work well, though I usually support the cage with either a pole or a T-post. If the cage get's blown over it can yank up the beans on one side. But cages have worked well for me in the past.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 11:49AM
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Thanks for the response. Moisture won't be a problem _ in my experience, our rainy season tends to overwater just about everything. I've got limited space, so I may try to okra idea anyway, to try to get a little variety in my little garden.

And I'm definitely going to try to tomato cages. I might try to brace them somehow, as you suggest.



    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:13PM
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Sure. My favorite method of securing tomato cages is to set a 5' T post on one side and tie onto it. If I don't have a T post, I use a breaker bar and make a hole. Then I sink a pole, like a good sized bean pole, in the hole. I tie onto the pole. This keeps the cage stable.

My cages are 5' tall and made of concrete reinforcing wire.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 6:30PM
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I'm growing snap peas on LAST YEAR'S (IE, DEAD) okra skeletons, and so far so good. They're 2 feet high and blooming. I have the peas kinda "holding hands" around the okra skeletons for support, and it's working so far... they would be better with a few bamboo poles stuck in there so they could climb easier. When the peas are done, I plan to cut the whole thing down and use as mulch on whatever I plant there next (a cantaloupe that grows in Oklahoma is current plan).

I'm agreeing with MacMex's guess on the competitiveness of live okra as a support. Okra roots spread out at least 2 feet in every direction (plus a tap root over 18 inches long), and they get every last bit of moisture and nutrients in their reach.

greentongue... Arkansas Ozarks

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 4:28PM
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