One of the easiest ways to grow rambling or vining plants is to train them up
trellises or supports. In a small garden, growing things upwards is a good
solution because space is limited but you still want a lush appearance and lots
of diversity in your plantings. In a bigger garden, vertical displays can become
wonderful design features and focal points and provide much-needed visual
screens or windbreaks. And, if you enjoy creating wildlife habitat in the
garden, you'll find that having plants at eye level is the best way to see small
creatures such as iridescent hummingbirds and hovering butterflies.
Start the spring garden off with snow peas or sugar snap peas on a trellis or
net strong strung up between two poles. After you've harvested the succulent pea
pods in early summer, plant pole beans in the same spot to finish up the season.
Both peas and beans will naturally twine and cling, so they are among the
easiest to train vertically. I especially like the pole varieties of these two
kinds of vegetables, because it so much easier to find the pods when they are at
found that scarlet runner beans, with their pretty coral and white or all red
blossoms, are a surefire way to attract hungry hummingbirds. My favorite support
for peas and beans is plastic netting with big three inch square openings.
Sometimes you can find garden netting made out of jute or some other natural
fibers, so at the end of the season the whole vine and its support can be put in
the compost pile. If you do use plastic netting, be sure to remove and store it
for the winter, as cold and wet weather seem to make it degrade faster.
are one of the rambling vines that perform best when provided with strong
stakes, sturdy trellises or sturdy cages. If left to spread on the ground, they
would take up a great deal of room and the fruits would be hidden and more prone
to disease. Cherry tomato plants, especially, can get huge and dense so be sure
to provide them with extra strong vertical support, otherwise each plant makes
such a jungle of foliage that it is hard to harvest the fruit by the end of the
Renee's Garden Seed
Scarlet Runner Beans
To purchase these and other Renee's Garden Seeds,
Try these great recipes from
Israeli Cucumber Salad
Green Bean Pate'
How to Contain your Tomatoes
To contain my tomatoes, I use cages made out of very heavy gauge wire, the kind
that is used in reinforcing concrete. The holes between the wire squares are big
enough for me to reach through to harvest red ripe tomatoes but the wire is
stiff enough to support the heaviest vines. Don't purchase the flimsy vase
shaped thin wire cages often sold for tomatoes, because they will fall over
before most vigorous varieties are even half done growing. If you don't have the
time or materials to make wire cages, use sturdy wood or metal stakes to tie up
your vines to, or string strong wire between poles to support their growing
branches. This year, we made some very nice looking tomato cages out of wooden
1x1's.They look like 4 ladders screwed together into a box shape; we used metal
fasteners and wing nuts so they can be disassembled and put away for winter.
Once you plant out your seedlings, you may have to encourage the young vines to
attach themselves, but once they get going they'll climb right up without
growing vining summer squash or any kind of gourds, traditional teepees made
from stakes or saplings are useful and handsome. I like to grow miniature
pumpkins this way because the bright little orange fruit look like wonderful
summer ornaments as they grow up their supports. Or make a long A-frame trellis
with stout string between the wooden members. Plant four or five seeds about two
inches from the base of your upright supports. Once strong seedlings have
emerged, thin to the strongest plants for growing on, as well spaced and uncrowded seedlings always produce the most fruitful mature plants. Small melons
and vining cucumbers can also be grown this way, although their vines will need
help to climb upwards. Stretchy plastic ribbon, natural fiber twine or even
strips of old pantyhose are good materials for tying your vertical vines. When
growing plants with heavy fruits like winter squash or melons, it's a good idea
to cradle the growing fruit in slings made of old T-shirts or plastic netting.
Another great vining vegetable is the Italian heirloom
Trombetta, a delicious
climbing summer squash. Its luxuriant vines, with their lime-green, trumpet
-shaped fruits are a true visual feast, whether you grow just a few plants on
poles or whole fence of these tall climbers.
In planning for climbing varieties, don't forget the ornamental as well as the
edible. Some of my favorite annual flowering vines, all easy to grow from seed,
include: evening-flowering moonflowers, bright
morning glories, lavender
flowering hyacinth bean vines,
climbing spicy nasturtiums, and of course all the
beautiful hues of fragrant sweet peas for early spring and summer bloom. All of
these beauties can grace your garden with walls of attractive foliage and
glorious flowers to enjoy inside and out all season long.