Vertical Gardening: 5 plants you can grow
Vertical gardening is a system that uses trellises and supports to grow plants upwards as well as outwards. Growing vertically is a game changer for small gardens as you can grow many plants in the area. It also means that you can have large, rambling plants that you wouldn’t usually consider - like pumpkins and squash. Here are five plants you can consider growing in your vertical gardening system.
I want to grow cucumbers. You are going to need some vertical support. Cucumbers grow as winding vines that send out little tendrils that latch on to anything they can reach to help keep the vine off the ground and extend towards the light. Growing cucumbers without support can be detrimental to the plants, as the vines can strangle and smother those around them. Cucumber vines are also very prone to fungal diseases like mildew. Vertical supports keep the vines off the ground and prevent air from getting trapped between the leaves, reducing the chances of fungal disease.
Sweet potatoes also develop long vines, but cucumbers do very well creeping across the soil surface. Sweet potatoes are not generally a threat to surrounding plants but can take up much space. Trellises can be used to lift the sweet potato vines off the floor to make more space for other plants to grow. Without the vertical system, the sweet potato vines spread out and become dense, reducing the amount of space you can increase dramatically.
Pumpkins and Squash
Pumpkins and Winter squash plants are members of the same family as cucumbers and grow similarly with vines and tendrils. Pumpkins and winter squash, however, tend to grow much, much larger than cucumbers. For most small gardens, squash plants were just not an option because they take up too much space (one squash plant often meant no other plants for that season). But with vertical gardening, you can grow that one squash plant and all the other plants that can fit in the area. Ensure your supports are strong because pumpkins and squash fruit can become quite heavy. Pumpkins and squash usually get covered in powdery mildew when growing across the soil surface. Growing squash vertically prevents decay and keeps your plants healthier for longer.
Tomatoes aren’t technically vines; they are more shrubs or bushes than vines. Then why grow them on trellises? Tomato stems are weak and flimsy, but the fruit can get quite heavy. As you can imagine, this leads to lots of snapped stems and fruit lying on the floor calling the surrounding insects over for a feast. Providing support structures that you can tie your tomato stems to will help the plants carry the weight of the fruit without breaking. Tomato plants are also prone to a wide range of fungal diseases that thrive in dark, damp areas of the plant. Growing your tomatoes vertically will spread the branches out, bringing light and cool air over the leaves—reducing the risk of disease. This also increases the amount of light that falls on each leaf, improving your harvest.
Peas are vining plants with tendrils that help them climb to the sun (like cucumbers and squash), and their stems are even flimsier than tomatoes. Peas are almost impossible to grow without some vertical support, as one pod on the plant can make the plant collapse in on itself if there is nothing for its tendrils to latch on to. Peas are my favorite plants to grow on a vertical system because they are the perfect garden snack, they fertilize the soil as they grow, and you can grow way more peas than any other plant on a vertical system.