Country Lore: Grow More Food With Garden Trellises

Use a simple trellis system and train your crops to grow vertically. You will ultimately harvest much more food!
By Kevin Wright
June/July 2006
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Of course pole beans grow well up a trellis, but did you know you can also use a trellis to grow vining crops such as melons and cucumbers?

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I recently began my own small backyard market garden. Pressed for space, I needed a way to gain more area to produce the vegetables I plan to sell at local farmers markets.

I began using a trellis system, which is great for many kinds of vegetables. Pole beans, of course, work on a trellis, but have you tried cucumbers? On a trellis, cucumbers grow long and straight and leave a lot more ground for other plantings. A strong trellis also can be used for some small melon varieties. The melons will maintain their naturally round shape, and keeping them off the ground discourages rot and keeps some critters at bay. Heavy tomato vines also can be trained to grow along a trellis.

Place your trellises in garden areas where they will receive ample sunlight, but not where the trellises will shade your other plants. I put mine on the south side of the garden, giving all my plants dawn-to-dusk sunlight.

To make a trellis, a heavy gauge of fencing material works best. My trellises are just over 6 feet high, with the bottom of the fencing attached 1 foot up the fence stake.

Kevin Wright
Canton, Illinois

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