Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Reaching for the sky

Posted by: Martha Buns under Vegetables Updated: July 7, 2011 - 8:55 AM

 

Can pole beans reach the flight path?

Space is the final frontier, in this case the vertical space over a small city lot. Given a finite amount of space to devote to veggies, I'm looking to expand my horizons upward.

 Last year's attempt sent me back to the drawing board, because my makeshift supports for vining plants were quickly overwhelmed, and first slumped and later toppled. I still got lots of produce, but it was dead annoying to lift up prickly cucumber vines to get at the cherry tomatoes on the plant at the bottom of the heap, and I'm sure the tomato wasn't so happy with the arrangement either. This year I invested in a sturdy A-frame trellis that I'm hoping can handle its weight in cucumbers.

I'm also trying pole beans for the first time, which seemed a good option that would use limited ground space in the raised beds. However, they quickly outstripped their obelisk trellis home, so I put in a tall tomato spiral stake through the middle. That was late one afternoon, and by the morning the beans had slithered another foot up the new stake.

Suddenly, I'm having visions of  "Jack and the Beanstalk" and wondering if the additional height is going to be nearly enough, and where to go from there. All the pole bean trellis options I found people using online were shorter teepees or fences, which made me wonder if the variety I planted was unusual? I belatedly checked the back of the seed packet to see what I was up against....but no hints there. An online search finally told me that 'Trionfo Violetto' plants were expected to grow 6 to 9 feet.

So if it winds up at the shorter end of that range, the current arrangement could work. Otherwise I'm not sure what Plan C is. Maybe if I tie a run of twine from the top of the stake to the old clothesline hooks along the garage wall? I guess I could just let the overflow flop down, but that's supposed to reduce yield, and it would be nice to get some beans out of this experiment. Any suggestions from successful bean growers? Should I have been trying to get them to wind around more lower down on the trellis rather than letting them shoot straight up?

What have been your successes or learning experiences with vertical vegetable growing? (I figure it's not failure if you learn something.) I'm going to count it as progress if I get a few decent meals of purple beans and don't get a leaning tower of cucumbers.

 

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