Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growing Up

I've been asked by a number of people how I stake up my peas, tomatoes, and other things.  The answer:  any way I can!  And I don't stop with things everyone puts up, nope, nope, nope!  Unless I want to use it as a living mulch, vining things go up!  I've grown pumpkins and watermelons several feet off the ground that way, and that is a fun sight to see!  Here are some examples of "growing up" from my past couple years of gardening, when I've actually started to take pictures (sorry, no pumpkin pics at this time.  Maybe this year I'll get some good ones!).

From last year's garden:  My Square Foot Gardening beds have a PVC pipe frame strung with nylon twine for plants to grow on.  Here, from left to right, are a cantaloupe plant, cucumbers, beans (which ended up being strung along a piece of twine connected to the other garden box because they got so long), and pumpkin plant.   I tried growing down and up in the same area with Topsy Turvies, but found them to be a giant waste of money.  Those plants were not happy!
From last year's garden:  watermelons on the twine of the other garden box.
From last year's garden:  cantaloupe!  You can see here how I just twist the stems around the twine to train things to grow this way.  I use twisty-ties from garbage bags to hold them in place until they learn to behave on their own.
Also from last year's garden.  The rails along the steps made a great place to string up peas growing in repurposed ice cream buckets.  Over the course of the summer, after the peas were gone, I switched out the buckets and had cucumbers and tomatoes use that same space.
This was from a community garden I was involved with last year.  We utilized a chain link fence along the edge of the property as a vertical growing space for a number of plants.  The plants had to be monitored pretty closely, since the property next door was vacant and kept locked up, so if something grew over there, we wouldn't have been able to get it.  It wasn't a big deal to gently bring flowers and small fruits over to the right side of the fence before they grew too big to pass back through the links.
From this year's garden:  Peas are currently using the twine connected to the PVC pipe.  The peas are growing in pots outside the actual garden bed, with other plants that will be using the twine later in the actual bed.  When the peas succumb to the summer heat, I'll remove their pots and train the waiting plants up the strings instead.
From this year's garden again.  Peas are currently using the top rails, but tomatoes wait below to take over.  The ones that need to grow taller to reach the rails are indeterminate varieties, while the ones that have the rails immediately available are determinate.
I stuck the sticks in the buckets as I filled them before ever planting anything, so they should be firmly in their.  In cas you are wondering, yes the facades are still in place to hide the orange bucketness, but I dug out an older picture to show that the sticks were sticking out of buckets.
The flip side of the bed with the peas behind it right now.  From left to right, the plants waiting are pumpkin (because I'm hoping to create quite the spectacle toward the front of the yard with dangling pumpkins!), tomato plants in the middle, and cucumbers on the right.
In this bed, I'm using found objects to stake up tomatoes and dangle cucumbers.  A sturdy metal frame in the back will provide support for one tomato plant.  One of those stakes you dangle hanging baskets (which in this case has cucumbers) will support another.  The lamppost will support two more tomato plants (can't really see that in this picture's in the right corner of this bed though).


  1. Your garden looks so much nicer then mine

  2. Thanks! I have an audience though. Makes a difference ;-) Plus, Michigan has a milder climate.

  3. Excellent use of variable times for early plants and environment. Love it

  4. Thanks. With such limited space, I try to make it WORK for me! I'm far from mastering it, but every year, I get a little better at it.

  5. Old, unused swing sets would work well also.