Dirt on Gardening

Vegetable garden growing has grown increasingly popular for everyone to try – from apartment dwellers to suburban families. Growing a garden hasn’t really gone out of fashion in the rural Ozarks, but more and more people – even in the Ozarks – are growing their own veggies as a way to save money on the cost of food and to eat food that comes from a specific place.

Veggies can be grown in large and small spaces depending upon the needs and wants of the grower. One way to maximize space in the garden is to utilize a trellis to grow climbing or vining plants. There are a number of veggies that can be grown on the ground or on a trellis – cucumbers, some squash, melons and pumpkins to name a few. Certain varieties of vegetables such as tomatoes and green beans require trellises.

A gardener will immediately notice that utilizing a trellis will increase the yield per square foot in a garden space. A trellis will also increase the air flow among garden plants leading to fewer fungal diseases and rot. Vegetables growing on a trellis are not in contact with the ground, so they are cleaner and may even ripen more quickly.

The foliage of plants that’s located on a trellis will dry more quickly due to increased air circulation. This can be very beneficial when we have a wet summer such as some of the summers we have experienced in recent years. It’s very easy for plants to contract diseases from wet foliage.

Another bonus for the garden with a trellis system is the ease in picking produce that is trellised.

A trellis should be installed prior to planting most plants. Installation of the trellis after the plants are planted could lead to disturbing the roots of the plant. The soil under a trellis should be prepared the same way as the rest of the vegetable bed.

Trellises can be placed side by side in rows if there are numerous plants that need to be trellised. It’s important to remember that a trellis will cast a shadow. For optimal light on trellised plants, trellises should run in an east to west direction on the north side of the garden bed.

A gardener can utilize trellis shadows to his or her advantage by planting more shade tolerant plants near the trellis. Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach can enjoy the lessened light.

Trellises can be used to grow plants with fruits up to the size of a bowling ball. Large fruits such as pumpkins or melons may need a nylon support to help support the fruit on the trellis as it grows. There are also many types of trellis the gardener can purchase or create.

I will discuss these more in my next column.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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