5 July 2014, by gj
There are some plants that grow vertically so naturally, that all you need to do is have a support nearby.
Cucumbers, pole beans and peas, and luffas are wonderful examples of edible plants whose system of tendrils helps them grow up just about anything.
And then there are plants, most notably tomatoes, that are not meant to grow vertically but usually are. Prettify much every gardeners supports their tomato plants in some way, be it a stake, a cage, the Florida weave, or an overhead system.
Supporting tomatoes helps keep those soft fruits from rotting and makes them a little bit less susceptible to bugs and disease.
The stems are hearty enough to handle the weight of the fruit.
Well, in most cases that is.
We did once see a picture of a tomato so large and heavy that it snapped the stem on the plant.
But that’s the exception not the rule.
There are other vining plants like tomatoes that can be grown vertically with just a little assistance.
Melons are a vining crop as are many varieties of squash, particularly the winter squash but also some summer types.
In both cases there are two main ways the gardener can help their plants grow vertically.
The first is to be sure the structure to be used can support the combined weight of the ripe fruit.
In this regard it helps if the variety you plant produces a smaller fruit.
For example, a Moon and Stars watermelon might not be as good a choice as a Sugar Baby watermelon. As the name implies, Sugar baby produces one of the smallest melons and therefore is easy to grow vertically.
The other thing a gardener can do is to help support the fruit on the vine.
Like the very large tomato mentioned above, heavy fruit can easily cause stress and damage to the vine.
By using an airy fabric such as the mesh store bought onions or oranges come in, or a sheer nylon like pantyhose are made from, the gardener can help take some of the weight off the plant and put it onto the structure.
It is important that what is used will dry easily after a rain.
Simply wrap the fruit in a sling-like fashion, and tie it to the support. This not only takes the weight off the plant, it gives the fruit plenty of room to grow.
If you do not have anything to use on hand, you can buy netting type fabric inexpensively wherever fabric is sold. Remember you can keep using it year after year.
Growing whatever you can vertically is a great way to get more from the space you have, and also help protect your plants from some critters.
And that’s a gardening win-win.