my first time going vertical

WendyWalkerFebruary 26, 2014

My garden is fairly small, about 25ft square, and last year my tomatoes literally took over an entire corner, and the cukes another corner. It was impossible to get between the beds to harvest the veggies. I want to try going vertical this year, and have a few questions. I have no walls or tall fences near the garden so all trellises would be free-standing.

I'd like to do the style of trellis that arches over the path so you can simply pick the veggies from underneath. I've seen these done with a few different materials, with different size spaces. Ideally, a material would have spaces small enough to keep the plants growing on top without constantly having to reposition and tie them, but would allow the baby veggies to fall through and grow hanging underneath. Is this possible, or will the plants require tying no matter what? What size spaces work best?

I'm in MN, where the growing season is rather short, and right now I have 2 feet of snow on top of my garden, so I don't have high hopes for an early planting- the usual planting date here is Mother's Day weekend. Will the plants grow enough in this short summer to be worth doing arches, or am I better off with something shorter? Judging by last year my indeterminate tomatoes will get plenty big, but they were such a tangled mess I'm not sure how long they actually got.

Does it matter which direction the trellises are facing? The way my garden is laid out, the arches could go east/west or north/south. Will it matter which plants go on which side?

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I have had very good luck going vertical, zone 4 in Michigan. As far as coverage in a short season I would recommend going with things like beans for an arch. I have moderate luck with cucumbers but they don't seem to last as long and look bad when they die off, you can prevent this by planting new seedlings every few weeks - seed between the existing plants.
We have had good results trellising watermelon and muskmelon as well but you'll have to support these with some type of net.
As for direction, I prefer East West for most veggies. In the sprit of companion planting I plant full sun plants like peppers on the South side of the row, partial sun like broccoli and lettuce on the North side.
As for tomatoes, I will normally plant them on a North South orientation or put them in a cage.
Take care to build your trellises sturdy, when they fill in they will act as a sail. I had a bean trellis actually snap in half, and it was made with steel pipe.
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:50PM
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I use steel wire fencing warped around 3/4" steel pipe. The opening on the fencing is normally around 3" by 5", it can be found at Tractor Supply. Length of the rows (trellis) is about 5' any longer and you'll need additional support plus -that's how "tall" the fencing I like to get is.
It works well.
I normally go up about 5', then up further on a 45 deg. angle for another 3'. This allows me to harvest under the canopy while still having individual trellises vs an arch that grows from both sides. For this you'll need a piece of fencing 8' feet long - the width of your row will be equal to the height of the fencing your using -if that makes sense.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:04AM
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