Friday, July 17, 2009

My Square Foot Garden is Growing Up

One of the main advantages to Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method is that you can grow a lot vegetables in a small space. For those larger vining types of vegetables that tend to sprawl out, the solution is to grow UP using a vertical frame or trellis system.

There are many different ways you can construct a trellis that will allow you to grow vining crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, pole beans,etc vertically. In the Square Foot Gardening Book, there are instructions for making a trellis out of electrical conduit.

http://www.squarefootgardening.com/index.php/Plants/vertical-or-vine-crops.html

Here is another helpful link I found on gardengirltv.com that explains the benefits of growing vertically:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlQaOsDZuBQ&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Egardengirltv%2Ecom%2Forganic%5Fgardening%5Finsect%5Fcontrol%2Ehtml&feature=player_embedded

In constructing my trellis system, I ended up using 2 pieces of cheap lumber as the supports, with a piece of electrical conduit across the top. I drilled a hole in the top on each side to fit the conduit into the boards, with a metal plate i found at home depot applied at the ends (to stop the conduit bar from slipping out). We attached the trellis to the boxes using some brackets I found at Home Depot. The result is a very sturdy support that can be removed at the end of the season and put in storage. The entire system ended up being very cost effective. The wood itself was less than $12 total for 6 lengths, the conduit $2 for two lengths and we probably spent about $5 on all the metal do-dad attachments. All in all, approximately $30 give or take for all three boxes. Not bad.

Below is a picture of the finished trellis on one of the smaller boxes. Originally, it was 8ft tall as I was having a nap during the construction period and forgot to give instructions on how high i was looking to go. I suppose there is nothing wrong with the way they were, but they did look a little mutant in my small backyard. After a quick modification, they look much better and I think will be high enough to support the beans and cucumbers I will be growing on them . The nylon netting was purchased at lee valley tools inexpensively for $10.50 .
http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=1&p=51218&cat=2,33286


For the larger box, where the vining tomatoes needed some sort of support system, i used twine attached to the top of the trellis, trailed down and attached to a horizontal string at the bottom. The idea is that as the plants grow, i will be training the tomatoes up the string.



I chose this method primarily for the cost. I purchased a ball of jute twine from Halifax Seed very inexpensively. If I remember correctly it was just under $10 (later found the same product a little cheaper at Home Depot). The twine is supposed to provide a very sturdy support. This definitely seems to be the case so far. As I look out my window on this blustery day, it seems to be holding up quite well. Of course it is early days yet, but I'll keep you posted as the plant gets bigger and starts to bear fruit.

Here is what the system looks like up close:


http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2777/a-freestanding-tomato-trellis-improves-yields-and-keeps-the-garden-neat

http://monkeyfister.blogspot.com/2008/06/training-vining-plants-up-strings.html

Another advantage to using the string is that it allows you grow the tomato plants 1/square foot, as long as you prune the plant to one vine as it grows. As for how to prune those tomatoes, here are the links where I found the best advise:

http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

video:
http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/videos/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

1 comment:

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