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Supporting the Veggies

June 1, 2010

I planted three varieties of pea the first week of April. I didn’t buy any new peas, so they are the same as last year, Thomas Laxton for shelling, super sugar snap and mammoth melting sugar, both with edible pods. I soaked them all overnight before planting. Only one had low germination with only two seeds sprouting. I forget which, but it was one of the edible pod varieties. The peas are planted along the fence on the west side of the garden, which is the first to be shaded in the early afternoon. They grow up this fence easily. I don’t have to tie them, at all. The only thing I did was move the stems toward the fence when they were small and starting to grow their clinging tendrils.

pea fence

I’m not clear on the difference between a trellis and an arbor, but this is where I’ve planted my beans. I laced the slats with twine for supports. This bed is 4’x10′, with five rows of twine netting, including both long edges, for a total of 25 vertical strings. I planed 3-4 seeds around the base of each string. This seems excessive, but my experience with beans is that a single plant is pretty sparse and doesn’t need much space. Perhaps that won’t be the case this time.

The new varieties are all pole beans instead of bush beans. I gave a full 10′ row to each of these, purple trionfo violetto, vermont cranberry, and speckled calico. I planted another row of dragon tongue beans from last year’s seed and split the fifth row between dried black, red, and pinto beans from the grocery store, mostly just to see if they’ll grow. I also have seeds left over from last year for lima beans, green garden beans, and sequoia (purple) beans. I may tuck them in somewhere, if space opens up.

bean trellis

In a recent post, I mentioned the garden fairy helped plant the cucumbers. I had ‘planted’ teepees with sets of three pruned lilac branches to support the cucumbers. I haven’t tied them together, yet, but it’s on my to-do list. Either way, the soil in the raised bed was loose enough that the branches easily went in enough that the teepees shouldn’t fall over, especially with their criss-crossing side branches. I had the garden fairy put four seeds around the base of each of the nine branches. If they all thrive, I will have to thin them, but I will be surprised if that’s the case. Last year, the cucumbers were a huge failure learning experience, even with repeated plantings. Of course, last year was terrible for many veggies due to the extended cool weather and excessive rain that lasted nearly to August. This time around, summer weather has already arrived. There was a freeze in mid-May, so anything planted too early probably didn’t make it, but since then, it’s been safe enough to plant summer vegetables that I’m already nearly finished with planting.

cucumber teepees

The tomatoes and peppers are in the side garden. Last year, I ripped out a beautiful shrub, perhaps white cedar, that was growing happily in this spot. This patch of dirt has a southern exposure with extra warmth and protection from the concrete steps and being adjacent to the driveway. It’s also the sunniest spot on the property. Even still, it just barely qualifies as full sun. I’ve timed the sun’s movements. This is prime real estate for growing veggies. The shrub never had a chance. Well, perhaps a small one because the whole space was mulched with large, nasty gravel, but that was just another obstacle to be overcome.

Anyway, I’ve scavenged 1×2’s from Hubby’s unused stash for stakes at either end of the row and used green vinyl coated, 6′ metal stakes in between. I don’t anticipate great success with this method of support, but it’s what I’m trying this year. The tomatoes are also pretty closely planted, but I’m going for the vertical training and pruning a la square foot gardening style. We’ll see what happens. I’ve got 3 brandywine pinks, a few purple tomatillos, a few speckled roman, and several of a hybrid from Joseph at Greensparrow Gardens.

tomato stakes

I’m also using a teepee style support for the gourds. The trick here is that under the added compost is still hard ground, so the branches are not ‘planted’ deep enough for my satisfaction. There are eight branches, though. Once I get them tied together, they should be okay. Perhaps not if we get a major storm, but in that case, the gourds aren’t likely to be my main concern. I also have sugar pie pumpkins and pink banana winter squash in this bed, and a few volunteer potatoes. This was, after all, a compost heap in its early days. The potatoes are growing strong, so I’ve left them in. I did just read about the dangers of late blight surviving the winter on potatoes, but I’m not too worried. These aren’t from potatoes that I grew and I didn’t have late blight problems last year. Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on them.

gourd supports

That’s pretty much it for veggie supports. I have tomato cages in the shed, but I haven’t found them particularly useful, at least not for tomatoes. Maybe they’ll work better for peppers.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 10:22 pm

    What an interesting post! I am always looking for new types of plant support. I’m not happy with my wire tomato towers and green metal sticks. I had several ideas…, tomatoes are already planted and those ideas are still in my head. Those supports always fall since the plants are so bushy and heavy and the soil is loose. For cucumbers, I just bot a folding bamboo screen. I use bamboo TPs for my beans, and love them. I might try to plant more plants around each support as you do. I like a structure on your last picture. Recently, I posted my photos from the colonial gardens of Virginia, and they show twigs and branches used as supports. I will be curious to know, at the end of the season, which of your supprts worked the best. Thank you for the post! Very helpful.

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