With tight netting and a square frame, you'// be able to grow alt sorts of vining crops.
Arbors and Walkways
If an upside-down, U-shaped metal vertical frame works so well for one box, just think of all the various shapes, sizes, and arrangements you can make with more vertical frames. You can put two together in a straight line, turn a corner, or even zigzag. You can put four together to form an arbor. You can put netting on two sides so its a walk-through, on three sides so its a sitting area, or on four sides with one little opening for the kids to play in. That would be a secret place, and you could put netting across the top or run two sets of vertical frames down a pathway, creating a wall. You could even create a whole maze with dead ends, turns, and twists. All of the types of plants that would grow on it produce huge leaves, and make a very interesting visual pattern for your yard.
And don't forget vining flowers. If you want something that blooms every year with little care required, instead of an annual vine, you might want to plant something more permanent like a perennial flower such as clematis, honeysuckle, climbing roses, trumpet vine, or
thumbelina. Another good summer vining crop is New Zealand spinach. If you had long walkways with the vertical frames down each side on the inside, you could build 2-foot-by-any-length boxes and have them on the outside giving you plenty of walking room. You could also put them so that 1 foot is inside the path, and 1 foot is outside. I would plant the vine crops on the outside so they would climb up the netting, and plant flowers along the inside that will do well in the eventual shade of the pathway—perhaps something like impatiens or coleus.
Seed packets and catalogs often do not indicate whether a variety is a vining or bush type. The seed companies are constantly changing and adding new varieties, and in order to find out the best ones that vine, I would suggest that you call (if they have a toll-free number) or e-mail the various seed companies to find out. Tell them you are doing Square Foot Gardening and want to grow crops vertically and that you want to know which of their varieties are vines which need trellising and support.
Remember, tomatoes are the only vine crop you cannot start as a seed directly in the garden. They take so long to grow into a sizeable plant that in most cases we have to grow or buy transplants to put into the garden as soon as the last frost of spring is over. The rest of the vine crops can be started from seed directly in the garden. The seed planting chart shows when to plant them at the best time, and Chapter 9 shows you how to start the season earlier or extend it later.
One of the particularly desirable points of vertical gardening is that there's very little maintenance to do for the plants. Aside from watering, its a matter of once a week tucking the tops of the plant in through an opening in the netting, and back through another one, so they keep climbing up the netting. Some of the vertical crops, like pole beans and cucumbers, will do all the climbing themselves, but tomatoes have to be helped through the openings and pointed to the top. The netting is so strong that it will easily hold up the plant and, in fact, after further studies I found out the netting will also hold up all the fruit, including small watermelons and large pumpkins. Some
HOW MUCH ROOM
Here is how much room you need for each vine crop.
Plants Per Square Foot
Cantaloupe (1) Gourds (1) Tomatoes (1) Melons (1) Cucumbers (2) Pole Beans (8)
Plants Per Two Square Feet
Pumpkins (1) Summer Squash (1) Watermelon (1) Winter Squash (1)
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