<JFG is great for the family. Each person has his or her own plot."
—Gary from Michigan
Everyone loves corn—especially chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons! To keep them out and your harvest in, try this foolproof secret. Put one steel fence post in each corner of your 4x4 foot garden. Use tall metal 5- or 6-foot fence posts, and then, when corn reaches 4 feet, run chicken wire with 1-inch openings around the outside forming four walls. Next, add one more piece across the top at a height of about 4 feet. This will keep the critters out of the corn and prevent the crows from eating the seeds and seedlings when first planted. Then, as the corn grows, it will grow right through the top of the wire, which will support the tall corn stalks when the wind blows—at the same time, keeping the raccoons and chipmunks out before the corn can be harvested. You can easily tie the horizontal top wire with temporary bows so that you can undo a few and still reach in. Since it is chicken wire, make sure you wear a long-sleeved shirt when you reach in so you don't get scratched. You 11 be able to water easily either by hand or using a long-handled wand and shut-off valve on the end of your hose.
When I first invented the Square Foot Gardening method, I knew one of the real challenges was going to be some of the big sprawling vine crops like tomatoes. They are not only Americas favorite vegetable to grow, but they also take up the most room and cause quite an unsightly mess by the end of the season if they are allowed to sprawl all over the ground as they are in most old-fashioned, row gardens. People also complain about slugs getting in and ruining all of the tomatoes and about stepping on the vines and crushing them during harvest. The whole idea of growing tomatoes this way seemed very non-productive.
I was determined to find a better way to grow tomatoes and what I devised turned out to be not only good for tomatoes, but for all other vine crops too. Every plant that has a vine that sprawls all over the ground—even pumpkins and watermelons—can be grown vertically as long as you have a strong enough support; the result is a spectacular sight with very little wasted ground space.
Being an engineer, I thought of buildings in a city. Buildings aren't constructed as one-story structures that sprawl outward over the landscape; space is too valuable to do this. Instead, designers and contractors use what is called air rights, building straight up into the air, floor after floor after floor. Why can't plants be grown the same
Building Boxes and Structures way? Well, I discovered they can! All you need is a strong framework and something to hold the vine onto the framework. Did you know that vines grow better vertically than horizontally? Growing plants vertically prevents ground rot and discourages pest infestation. I know slugs aren't happy about my way of vertical gardening; I hear they get dizzy up high, but that's their problem!
Through the years I experimented with all different types of materials and frames. Finally, I settled upon one that was so simple, easy, and inexpensive to use that it was almost ridiculous. Then I began growing all different types of plants vertically. I originally thought I would need to design some special way to hold up and accommodate heavier fruits such as winter squash and pumpkins, but as it turned out, these plant vines seemed to understand the situation; the stem supporting the heavy fruit grows thicker and heavier as the fruit becomes larger. If you have a framework and support that will hold the plant, the plant will hold the fruit; it is as simple as that! Mother Nature always seems to know best.
I use the strongest material I can find, which is steel. Fortunately, steel comes in tubular pipe used for electrical conduit. It is very strong and turns out to be very inexpensive. Couplings are also available so you can connect two pieces together. I designed an attractive frame that fits right onto the 4x4 box, and it can be attached to the wooden box with clamps that can be bought at any store. Or, steel reinforcing rods driven into the existing ground outside your box provide a very steady and strong base; then the electrical conduit slips snugly over the bars. It's very simple and inexpensive to assemble. Anyone can do it—even you! To prevent vertically grown plants from shading other parts of the garden, I recommend that tall, vertical frames be constructed on the north side of the garden. To fit it into a 4x4 box, I designed a frame that measured 4 feet wide and almost 6 feet tall.
Vertically growing plants need to be tied to their supports. Nylon netting won t rot in the sun and weather, and I use it exclusively now for both vertical frames and horizontal plant supports. It is very strong—almost unbreakable—and guaranteed for twenty years. It is a wonderful material available at garden stores and in catalogs. The nylon netting is also durable enough to grow the heavier vine crops on vertical frames, including watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupes, winter and summer squashes, and tomatoes. You will see in Chapter
Was this article helpful?
Interested In Canning Juicy Tomatoes? Here's How You Can Prepare Canned Tomatoes At Home. A Comprehensive Guide On Tomato Canning. The process of canning tomatoes at home has been a family tradition with many generations. Making home canned or home tinned tomatoes is something that is remembered by families for years! You must have surely seen your granny canning tomatoes at home in order to prepare for the approaching winters. In winters, one is usually unsure of getting fresh tomatoes.