Got space problem? Go vertical!

Though we do it at rather a conservative scale, when it comes to growing vegetables during summer, I am invariably tempted to try a new item or two, therefore I wish we had more space to play with. Also, since vegetables need a fair amount of sun and a good well-drained soil for a decent production, our options are further limited as most of the potentially good locations are taken by the established perennials and shrubs.

Another factor that causes some frustration is when the plants in question are vines, which tend to sprawl, or are indeterminate such as cucumbers, beans, some types of squashes, and even tomatoes. But , thankfully, a very workable solution in such situations or for that matter, other settings as well, is to “create” space; vertical space that is by taking advantage of erect structures like tepees, trellises or existing fences. Frankly, imagination is the only limit!

While not a new concept,  tepees are functional, as well as economical and easy to make, too. To build a tepee, all one needs are sturdy poles and some twine to tie them together. In fact after pruning their deciduous trees during early part of the year, some savvy gardeners save the cut branches to use as “poles;” stems of crepe myrtles work real well because they are strong and straight.

Store-bought trellises are another option worth considering; they come in many sizes, or are made of wood or synthetic material to suit the need of a gardener. A few years back, I purchased an attractive bright red metallic trellis which can be folded and stored once gardening season is over; needless to say, I look forward to use it year after year, plus have no hesitation in placing it within one of our flower beds to create extra space. Also, this summer, I am thinking about using one of our trees, which succumbed to the harsh winter, as a support by letting some vines climb on the trunk and the leafless branches. It should be an interesting sight to watch the plants grow, bear flowers and eventually fruit.  

Aside from creating space and adding architectural interest in the garden, vertical structures do offer another significant advantage: because fruits produced on vertically-grown plants are away from the ground, they are cleaner and less prone to rot. Also, harvesting is substantially easier on the gardener’s back!

Gita’s Tip of the Month: Container-grown plants kept outside dry out faster than their counter – parts growing in the ground; therefore, make it a point to check for moisture regularly. On hot summery days, some might need watering twice a day.  

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