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Doing more with less

October 20, 2013


Special to the OBSERVER

Part III

Article Photos

Tomato stakes.

In the past two articles I went over soil health and depth as well as extending the growing season and interplanting. A very easy way to reduce the size of your garden, but continue to grow a lot of plants is to grow vertically. Some plants lend themselves, even demand, such support; think tomatoes, beans, or clematis. With a bit more help - pumpkin, squash and melons.

Let's start with tomatoes: they can sprawl over 4 square feet if left to grow naturally or they can be tied erect and take only 2 square feet. To grow tomatoes vertically you need to trim stems to one or two, remove suckers, thin the fruit to 3 per bunch and watch them go up instead of out. Many green beans and dry beans come as climbers as well as the more common bush variety. They twine up a " diameter pole in a counter clockwise direction here in the northern hemisphere! Clematis also twines, in this case it's the leaves which extend and wrap around a slimmer pole or " diameter lattice.

For all the winter squash, pumpkins or melons, a lattice 8' long and 4' high staked at a 45? angle will allow the runners to scramble up and over in half the space. As the fruits enlarge in August, you may want to tie the fruits up in slings attached to the frame to keep them from breaking off the vine.

Tomato stakes need to be of a sturdy material, 2" square is best by 5' high. Pole beans need a taller (8') and thinner stake. Since vertically grown vegetables will cast shade, place on the North side of the garden. I plant 3 beans per pole spaced 18" apart in a row 12" wide. Depending on the variety, 1-2 squash, pumpkin or melon can go on an 8' trellis. In late July, start trimming back those rambling vines. The weight in September will be substantial so make sure the trellis is not flimsy and has 3 4 supports.

Just for fun: a 5 pole tepee smothered in Heavenly Blue and Papa Ott Morning Glories is a treat for kids and oldsters alike. Try it next year; go up, not out!

M. L. Wells, Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener



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