For many small-space gardeners, sprawling vegetables may provide a major logistical challenge. Delicious cherry and heirloom tomatoes can grow up to 6 to 7 feet tall with hefty side branches. Melons can sprawl all over the ground, spreading into lawns and other garden plants. Squash can do the same with large sized fruits perched like rocks in your garden.
But there is a way to grow these space hog vegetables in any garden without having them take over: vertical gardening.
Many rooftop or balcony gardeners may already be familiar with the space-saving benefits of vertical gardening. But other space-constrained green thumbs should also take note: by training large-sized veggies to grow vertically, you not only save space, you also produce healthier veggies with fewer insect and disease problems. Let’s take a look at the best vertical veggies and the best ways to encourage their growth.
- Tomatoes– While some gardeners might opt for dwarf tomato varieties that stay contained in a pot, such as ‘Lizzano,’ most gardeners love simpler varieties. Sweet cherry tomatoes and large-fruited heirlooms are classic favorites, but both take up significant garden space. By staking or caging tomato vines with VELCRO® Brand Garden Ties, you can keep them in bounds and help support their vertical growth. You can also grow tomatoes in a green wall to save space and create a great visual backdrop to your garden.
- Cucumbers– Cucumbers sprawling over the ground can take up valuable garden real estate. By using a 45 degree wooden or wire trellis, you can train cucumber plants to grow more vertically, saving valuable soil for other plants. In addition to saving space, this technique hangs the forming cucumbers through the trellis, allowing them to stay straight and blemish-free.
- Melons– Small fruited melons such as cantaloupes are good candidates for vertical gardening. Try training the vines up a sturdy wire fence and using old rags or nylons to support the developing fruit.
- Squash– Some summer and winter squash varieties will naturally grow on fences with ease. Try the vining Italian trombochino squash for a fun twist. When eaten immature, it tastes like a summer squash, but when left to mature, its skin turns brown and toughens like a winter squash.
What have you tried that’s worked before? Do you have any handy vertical gardening tips? Comment below with suggestions and ideas for your fellow gardeners!
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 25 years bringing expert gardening information to home gardeners through radio, television, talks, tours, on-line, and the printed page. Charlie delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. Read more tips here: https://www.velcro.com/blog/categories/garden.