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Spacing and Supports?

Posted by fred_in_maine Southern Maine (My Page) on
Wed, May 2, 07 at 20:12

I recently learned that the seedlings I have been nurturing indoors do not remotely resemble the ideal A-Team for tight square-foot gardening. Market More cucumbers, Table King winter squash, Zucchini and Yellow Crook Neck summer squash.

Some of these babies are gonna really sprawl. I had no idea. They look so tiny and comfortable in small pots on my window sill.

I could really use some wise advice on spacing.

Also I have read that vertical methods can help reduce sprawl. I dont know how tall any of these veggies might grow on supports or what supports to use.

I deeply appreciate any advise.

Zone 4b 5a

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Spacing and Supports?

Are all of those listed as "bush" varieties? If so they will sprawl but it is controllable. I haven't tried vertical trellising but maybe someone else on this forum or the vegetable forum can advise. What I do when transplanting squash/cuke families is to plant at a "tilt", with the plant at a slight angle facing the direction I want it to go. I did this once with pumpkin plants and trained the vines to grow in my paths.

If all or any of these varieties are "vining" and not "bush", good luck with that--they can be monsters.

RE: Spacing and Supports?

Veilchen, thanks for the idea of tilting the plants. I don't think any of my plants are bush. This has me intimidated. I do have an option of planting along a chain-link fence but I don't know if this type of trellis would be best, or if I will need to construct another type of support. - Fred

RE: Spacing and Supports?

  • Posted by tricot 5b mid-coast ME (My Page) on
    Mon, May 7, 07 at 19:05

Hi Fred,

I have grown vining zucchini, yellow crookneck squashes, and various kinds of muskmelons inside large tomato cages with success. These are *large* tomato cages. I made them from concrete-reinforcing mesh, bent into cylinders about 3 feet in diameter and about 5 feet tall.

I supported the cages with a 7' metal stake buried about 2' into the ground, tied to the cage with twine. I spaced the cages about two feet apart. The cages seem sturdy enough not to need staking, but I worry about them blowing over in a high wind once they have big plants inside them.

The nice thing about concrete re-mesh cages - besides being durable - is that the holes are large enough to easily fit a hand (or tomato, or zucchini) through. Easier to work around than chain link for that reason. I would think that tying your vines to a chain link fence would also work fine for the plants, though it might be more awkward for you since most adult hands can't reach through chain link.

I did have to keep tucking the vines back into the cage, and tying them to the mesh at intervals. But it saves lots of garden space to grow big sprawling plants this way, plus it keeps the plants up off the wet ground which is nice.

One thing if you decide to go this route - I bought a gadget called a "fencing tool" to cut and bend the re-mesh. It was too thick and strong to cut with wire cutters, which I found out after ruining my wire cutters. These big cages take some effort to make, but they last indefinitely. I find them to be very handy in a small-space garden.

RE: Spacing and Supports?


I also made cages essentially identical to yours from rolls of concrete re-mesh. My fencing pliers could cut the wire only with difficulty, so I bought a small bolt cutter from Home Depot, and it snaps through the re-mesh wire easily. On the cages intended for tomatoes, I snipped off the bottom wire to create 6-inch "legs" to anchor the cages. That cut the height of the cages by 6 inches, but makes them more or less self anchoring.

I have also trained watermelons on the cages. Unfortunately some of them exceeded the 6-inch size of the opening in the wire and happened to form inside the cage, so I had to maneuver them, six inches at a time, up to the top of the cage. Next time I do that I am going to use an open cage design, so that I have access to the inside of the cage without having to reach through the 6-inch openings.


RE: Spacing and Supports?

  • Posted by tricot 5b Mid-coast ME (My Page) on
    Thu, May 10, 07 at 10:29

Bolt cutters, thanks, I will keep that in mind. I tried the "legs" approach but the legs started breaking off after a couple of years. Probably "user error," as they say. :-)

When you say "open cage design" are you thinking of a C-shape when looked at from above? That does seem like a good idea for the big melons.


RE: Spacing and Supports?

I used to have a raised bed/sq. ft vegetable garden. My plumber husband made support for my winter squash & cukes from 3/4" steel pipe that ran the length of the north side of the bed. There were 4 vertical pipes connected to a horizontal pipe with elbows and tees. The verticals were driven into the ground 12-18" or so. Since steel pipe will rust I painted it with green Rustoleum paint. The first year I 'made' netting by tying on nylon twine with about 6 x6" openings. Later, I found nylon netting spaced 6 x 6 in a garden catalog and attached it with cable ties. You can guide your vining vegs to keep the support evenly covered. Plants were spaced about 12" apart. This was a permanent install without any real seaonal maintenance. We've sold the house but used it for 7 or 8 yrs, no rust and the netting held up well.

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