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.

Vertical gardening, part 2

Posted by: Martha Buns under Critters and pests, Vegetables Updated: September 20, 2011 - 9:04 AM

 

Any victory I can snatch from the rabbits and squirrels is cause for celebration in my book, and last night we celebrated by cooking our first purple beans of the season.

 

The pole beans were part of this year's experiment with vertical growing, trying to tap the second story of a small garden. I blogged earlier this year about how the beans were outstripping their supports and I was wondering how to support "Jack and the Beanstalk." www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/blogs/125142529.html That was the day I came home to find out the problem was moot, because all the bean plants had been neatly lopped off at rabbit height. Disappointed, but undaunted, I replanted, knowing I was racing the clock to get any sort of crop. But about the time that the new seeds sprouted, I had to go out of town suddenly and the quick makeshift barrier I put around the base apparently wasn't sturdy enough to prevent Return of the Rabbits, so I came home to find more lopped off beans. This time I was definitely daunted, but decided to give it one more try on principle, and very thoroughly encircled the beans with wire mesh firmly anchored to the ground. By this point, the beans were surrounded by towering tomato plants, which competed for light, but also gave the beans one more thing to grow on, and grow they have. The only trick is finding the beans amid all the little golden tomatoes.

The other part of my vertical gardening experiment was less troublesome. A sturdy new trellis actually stood up to the prolific lemon cucumber vines, as well as the surprise volunteer vine, which turned out to be an acorn squash.

The best vertical garden I saw this year was at a friend's house. She'd planted purple pole beans at the four corners of an arbor and they were daintily dangling, wisteria-like, across the top. Imitation being the best form of flattery, I might have to steal that idea for next year. Or I wonder how they'd take to a trellis along the back of a border? Those purple blooms are decorative enough for the perennial bed.

Ha, ha, rabbits.Guess you'll have to stick to the pricey hosta and lilies instead.

What have been your victories over voracious varmints? And does vertical gardening take serious infrastructure or what? I've got enough tall plant spikes to arm a squadron.

 

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