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for a Sky-High Beanstalk

Put in a trellis for bountiful spring and summer vegetables

Maximize your garden space by growing certain vegetables on trellises. Pole beans and lima beans require much less garden space than bush beans. Cucumbers, midget watermelons and small melons can be grown on trellises and on strings to conserve space. Vining tomatoes are easy to trellis and produce more quality fruit than if left sprawled on the ground.

Growing vegetables on trellises not only saves space; it makes harvesting easier, and the fruit are always cleaner because they are not in contact with the soil.

Another advantage to trellis-grown plants is better air drainage between plants, which means less chance of disease. By having good air circulation around the foliage of plants, diseases such as powdery mildew and anthacnose become less of a problem. Such diseases are dependent on high humidity and stagnant air to spread their spores.

Growing vegetables on trellises requires advance planning; now is not too soon to start. You’ll need to lay out a garden plan that includes trellises, begin trellis-loving seeds and build or buy trellises.

Always plant trellised plants on the north side of shorter growing crops to prevent shading. Plants growing on trellises need almost daily training.

In the case of cucumbers and melons, start training early while the vines are young. Then, once the vines have started climbing, they will require little additional training. But young vines will continue to originate from the ground. Either remove them or train on the trellis. If these secondary vines are not either removed or trained, they will soon cover the ground.

Vegetable plants that grow on trellises require more frequent irrigation. When foliage is more exposed to wind and sun, leaves transpire more. Increased exposure to wind also makes plants more susceptible to storm damage and high winds. If your garden is sheltered by a structure or windbreak, however, there is little chance that the garden will suffer severe storm damage.

Hear Dr. Gouin's thoughts on composting and container gardens at his March 15 lecture at 12:30 at Homestead Gardens.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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