Trellising Vegetables

I plan to try to do more trellising this year.  As with so many of the things we do here, I’ve just been carrying through the gardening practices I learned as a boy.  We never trellised our vegetables, so the grown-up me didn’t trellis them either.

We grow lots of peas and green beans (devoting an entire garden to each of them) but I’ve always chosen varieties that didn’t need to be trellised.  We’ve never grown any pole beans, for example. And until recently I didn’t even realize that things like cucumbers and melons could be trellised.

There are plenty of advantages to trellising, of course.  Trellised varieties tend to yield better and have less pest damage.  Trellising also uses less garden space (allowing the plant to grow vertically rather than sprawling out on the ground) and the veggies can be picked without so much bending over.  And of course the taste of the Kentucky Wonder pole bean is legendary.

Last year I planted a few rows of trellised sugar snap peas and they did well. They were much easier to harvest than the bush style peas.  Only after the season was over did I learn that a row should be planted on each side of the trellis.  I’m looking forward to trying that this year.

Trellis netting for the sugar snaps.  It seems I took no pictures of them once they were up.

Trellis netting for the sugar snaps. It seems I took no pictures of them once they were up.

We’ll definitely plant trellised sugar snaps again this year.  I’m not ready to try trellising cucumbers, but I am excited about planting some Kentucky Wonders.

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23 comments on “Trellising Vegetables

  1. Dani says:

    As I had bad mildew on my squash last summer, this year a few of the plants are being “suspended” above ground level.. Hopefully the mildew stays away this year… 🙂

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  2. Buffy says:

    Do try cucumbers! I grew Summer Dance variety last year and they trellised beautifully! Once you do it you will never go back. They take up less space in the garden and are so much easier to pick. I used a cattle panel for my trellis. I may check out your trellis net for climbing green beans! I hate to pick bush green beans. I see many more trellises in our garden this year too!

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve had plenty of people tell me to trellis cucumbers. Once they start sprawling across the ground it’s next to impossible to keep the weeds out. I’ve also heard that with the long Asian cucumbers they grow straight if trellised. I may have to give that a try this year. I don’t have enough cattle panels to accommodate all the cukes we grow, so maybe I’ll just experiment with what we have.

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, trellising has always been a practice that I’ve used for cucumbers. They are climbers for sure. It takes a bit of work to clean off the fences for reuse at the end of the season but during the year is great to have them in the upright position. It almost seems that they were made to climb. I’ve only grown peas once and it was such a bad experience that I’ve not done it again. With the new, well not so much any more, peas with the edible pods, the work for harvesting and preserving has diminished so it may be on the growing list some time in the future. I’ve never tried pole beans but I’ve been thinking maybe this year to put up a teepee or two just to see how they do in my garden. I’ve always grown the bush beans and had some success. At least those that I gave them to thought so. Happy New Year and may all your 2015 gardens produce an abundant harvest.

    Have a great garden trellis planning day.

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    • Bill says:

      Another vote for trellising cucumbers. If I can figure out a trellising system that makes sense for us I’ll probably give it a try.

      We grow lots of peas. English peas in the spring and Southern peas (purple hulls) in the summer. They’re a lot of work to pick (especially the English peas) but SO delicious. We were the only vendor at the market with English peas last year.

      We’ll be having some purple hulls for supper tonight. It’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Years Day. Supposed to bring good luck. Even though I didn’t like them when I was growing up my mother would make me eat at least one, to ward off any calamities that might otherwise have occurred.

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  4. Joanna says:

    I usually grow beans up pole and I am intrigued by the trellising idea. My one qualm is the amount of netting and if as Nebraskadave says they take a lot of cleaning at the end of the year, it might not be worth it for us and I hate waste. Cattle panels sound a good idea, they should be easier to clean, but I guess here they will be a costly option. The jury is still out on that one then.

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    • Bill says:

      I bought that netting from Johnny’s last year. An extension agent recommended it. It worked fine but was a bit of a hassle to take down. I just rolled it up and put it in a shed until all the vines were dried up, then they came off easily. But I couldn’t fold or roll it so its just in a big pile in our basement right now. I’m hoping it re-uses easily. If not it wasn’t worth it. We’ll see. On the scale we grow cattle panels would be too expensive unless I could find some cheap somewhere.

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      • Joanna says:

        I wonder if there is a way of doing something more permanent like a stick trellis that would do more than one plant. It would mean trying to work out what would follow what. I know it would not work in an area marked out for the veg plot next year as it also serves as the sheep’s winter quarters. Or would it? Maybe they would work as a way of providing some protection? Although I guess they would knock it down – you really have got me thinking 😀 Only it would be my hubby’s job to set it up and I’m not sure he has the time 😀

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  5. avwalters says:

    In my former, city life, I was a “square foot” gardener, so trellising was not a great option. Out of necessity, I grew bush beans. Then, my life exploded and I moved out to the farm in Two Rock, where I could have as much garden as I wanted–but little water. I had no money for fancy irrigation, so out of that came bucket gardening. I used a lot of tomato cages over the growing buckets, for tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and other climbers. Still, I clung to the bush beans on which I’d always relied, until a friend suggested that pole beans had better flavor. That summer we did a side by side bean contest. The pole beans won, hands down.
    From then on, it was pole beans and trellises. We used temporary fencing for the trellis, with growing buckets alternating on each side–best beans ever! One year our pumpkins sent a sneaky runner into an unused barn, festooning it with dangling orbs.
    This year we’ll expand–snap peas, maybe even traditional peas.

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    • Bill says:

      I’m looking forward to trying the pole beans. Not only do they taste better, but the yield is a lot better too. And I love the idea of picking beans while standing up. I’m not sure how I’ll trellis them, but will figure something out.

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  6. i’ve only ever grown pole beans – as you say, I grow what I was raised with :). I only found out that there were bush beans a few years ago! I use string to train the beans, as it composts easily saving on clean up later, but it’s no good when you want to feed the spent vines to the chickens, so I may go back to poles or wire next year. I grow peas on old scraps of chicken wire – it’s not pretty, but it totally works, and I don’t find the clean up that bad – but I don’t grow a market garden worth of peas either :).

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    • Bill says:

      I like the chicken wire idea. A roll of that isn’t very expensive and I could anchor it with t-posts. Maybe that’s how I’ll try trellising cucumbers.

      We grow hundreds of tomato plants and I use the Florida weave method. So I spend a lot of time in the fall and winter unwinding the string and jacking up the t-posts. It’s a pain but I don’t know any better method.

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  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Enjoy those K. Wonders! I started growing them with Scarlet Runners just to give my shade-loving lettuces a better chance. Up here, there’s a warning on some bean seed about +50* pre-planting soil temperatures – not that you’d much need to worry about this – but I’ve had K. Wonder come up in the as yet untilled Spring garden right along side self-seeding dill and coriander (and last year’s forgotten onions; )

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    • Bill says:

      Interesting. I don’t usually start planting beans till May 1. I’m surprised the Kentucky Wonder does well in the cool weather. My interested to see how it does for us this year.

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  8. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    What I’ve seen used most often, around here at least, is the welded steel wire that’s used to reinforce concrete. 4′ wide and comes in a roll…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      And, with the exception of the occasional “T” post, it’s strong enough to be self-supporting whether you’re growing Peas or Cukes; )

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Willow says:

    Here’s to a blooming good New Year Bill !

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  10. The trellising looks like a fantastic idea. Might give it a go on a smaller scale this year. Have a great 2015

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  11. sf says:

    Wow, excellent work! I had bought a plant a couple of weeks ago (can’t remember what it was cuz the pain in my palms from digging gravel today is making my brain go blank; think it was cucumber plant). But when I brought it home, my Mom told me that we can’t grow it in our garden cuz we don’t got any trellising going on, which it needs. So I ended up giving it to my neighbor who does have some trellising in her garden. You’re a true gardener/farmer fo sho! A fruitful and abundant new year to you!

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    • Bill says:

      I grow cucumbers every year and I’ve never trellised them. I’m going to try it this year and see how it goes.

      Thanks for the well-wishes. A happy and bountiful New Year to you as well!

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