Page 94 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
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Vegetables that provide Vertical Interest.
Now that many gardeners have smaller gardens, whether it is because of lack of space or not enough time to tend a larger one. If you are one of these, or if you
just want to try something novel, try planting vegetables vertically.
Growing vegetables upright not only saves space, but makes harvesting easier. You do not have to bend over to cut fruit from the vines. This could be quite advantageous for older gardeners or some with back problems.
Upright vegetables can also add architectural interest. The vegetable garden ceases to be utilitarian, and becomes decorative. Vegetables can also be grown on fences to hide chain link, or to screen undesirable views.
Pole beans such as Kentucky Wonder will climb up just about anything, even other plants. Native Indians used these in their traditional “three sisters” plantings of beans, corn, and pumpkins. The corn stalks provided support for the beans, and the pumpkins (try a squash such as the Sunburst hybrid) provided a ground cover or living mulch below. Just make sure if using this method to give the corn (try the Canadian Early Supersweet) a head start, or the fast-growing beans wont have anything to climb!
Pole beans can also be grown on obelisks, trellises, or over an arbor. The Scarlet Runner pole bean has attractive red flowers. Pole beans don’t just add a vertical accent, but they keep producing longer than bush beans. They continue to grow, flower, and fruit as long as you keep picking the pods.
Gourds and winter squash are from the same family and can grow very long vines. Both can take all season to mature, so it is better to give these plants a head start indoors in peat pots that can then be planted out. The heavy fruit of winter squash, such as Butternut or Spaghetti, should be individually supported by nets (strips of used panty hose can work too). Tie them to the trellis or fence on which the vines are trained. Avoid using string as it can cut into stems. Use a soft rope or cord such as cotton clothesline.
Cucumbers (English Long Telegraph or Straight) prefer to be grown up a trellis or obelisk. Make sure the structure is quite strong, to support the weight of the vines. Cucumbers have shallow roots and dislike root disturbance so place the structures and then plant.
Peas of course are a favorite, upright crop suitable for the vertical garden. Choose the edible-pod or snow peas because they produce longer vines. The Tall Telegraph Pea or Laxton’s Progress are two other varieties that do well in our area and climb about six feet.
Plants not often associated with climbing are Tomatoes. Suitable varieties are the ones that have stems that keep on growing. They are known as in-determinate varieties (check the description for this feature - see page 59-60), they perform better grown upright than falling over on the ground.
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