Growing an Organic Vertical Vegetable Garden on Trellis to Avoid Weeding.
Why vertical garden your fresh veggies?
There are many ways to cut down on your food bill, but growing fresh vegetables is one of the easiest and most delicious! Organic gardening is enjoyable if set up efficiently with no weeding needed.
Even in a large garden with lots of space, vertical gardening saves your back, money and efforts while increasing your yields per square foot. Some people worry that the structure won't stay up or that the plants won't either. If you choose the right plants and trellis, the plants grow themselves.
For most vertically grown veggie vines, seedlings or even directly planted seeds do best planted along the edge of raised beds. They are mulched for initial weed block-out and moisture retention. Once the plants are foot tall, the weeds can't compete and the fun begins! The growth rates are usually rapid and the family can enjoy and follow the meteoric rise of these vines.
Plants that most suitable for vertical growing are natural runners and vines.
- Peas-often are shorter and suitable for a 3-4 foot fence or lighter trellis coverage
- Runner or Pole beans-will run taller than most people, work well with poles, they don't need crossbeams. Many have bright red flowers that hummingbirds love
- Squash-we have grown large Butternut, Buttercup and smaller Acorn squash at the top of 7 feet tall wooden and page wire structures
- Cucumbers-hanging the cucumber fruit allows a nice straight cucumber, that is easy to see and harvest, medium weight trellis to about 6 feet
- Cantaloupe-in warm sheltered spots these can run 5 feet tall and need no weeding
- Grapes-an excellent perennial vine that will produce fruit for the table or wine depending on the variety. Requires a permanent trellis, usually wood for years of use
Other such as tomatoes will grow up a trellis but will need to be attached or woven through to the trellis periodically.
Lightweight Trellis Netting for Peas & Beans
Heavy Duty Trellis for Heavier Vegetables
Read the seed packet!
Mistakes to avoid when setting up your lattice
- Make sure your plant varieties are climbing. The only thing more inconvenient than a bush bean with wasted trellis is a runner bean twining around it's neighbours on the ground. We have had both here!
- Make sure your trellis, lattice or poles are rigid and strong. Also they must be sunk at least a foot into the ground, or braced to something rigid. Using thin bamboo poles and chicken wire may work for lightweight peas but will blow over in a summer storm if laden with squash!
- Make sure you can easily get to both sides of your trellis. Better if it is a simple vertical lattice. It is difficult to see and reach to harvest your veggies from the inside of a tiny tee-pee, and the stooping is hard on the back, which you notice when you straighten up! Also harvest is much quicker when you can see, and you don't miss any that end up as tough stringy beans next harvest day!
- Make sure there is lots of space between the banks of lattices. It will be easier to move around with at least 3 feet of space between. 5 feet is even better. Air flow will be better and there will be losses due to less powdery mildew and other problems caused by damp and lack of air circulation.
- Make sure the lattice squares aren't too small. It is frustrating to have a ripe fresh pea pod within reach on the other side of a tiny 1 inch mesh hole! Most plants suited to climbing have tendrils that twine and will easily climb up squares 4-6" and larger.
Veggie Garden Links
- With 40 years of Organic Gardening experience, Eliot Colemans books and articles offer so much knowledge
- Veggie Garden Plans - Ecological Gardening Tips and Layouts
- Organic or Not — Tips for Reducing Pest Problems - University of Illinois
- Using Organic Matter in the garden -Cornell gardening resources
- Home Vegetable Gardening- NC State University
- Block Style Layout in Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens - Colorado State University