- Building Trellises For Squash: Tips For Growing Squash On Trellises
- Growing Squash on Trellises
- Squash Plants for Trellis Growing
- How to Grow Squash on a Trellis
- Maintaining Squash Trellises
- How to Grow Zucchini on a Trellis
- Staking and Supports
- Types of Climbing Vegetables to Trellis
- How to Trellis Tendrilers (Cucumbers, Peas, and Many Squash Varieties)
- How to Trellis Twiners (Pole Beans)
- How to Trellis Scramblers (Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes)
- The Secrets to Successful Squash
- Planting, Pruning, Pollinating and Protecting Squash
- Harvesting and Eating Squash
Building Trellises For Squash: Tips For Growing Squash On Trellises
Space saving ideas abound for the patio gardener and those with small spaces. Even the grower with limited areas can build a flourishing edible garden. Squash are notorious rangy vines and can encompass much of a vegetable bed. Vertical gardening with trellises for squash will allow small garden owners the ability to raise fresh natural fruits for their own use. Learn how to grow squash on a trellis so you can experience the satisfaction of growing your own food in even the tiniest of areas.
Growing Squash on Trellises
One of the easiest ways to grow squash and other cucurbits is on a form or trellis. Most squash are too heavy for the average trellis without extra support, but some, like the summer squashes and smaller gourds, are perfect for vertical growth.
Squash trellising can be as simple as crossing a couple of boards and threading some twine across to support the burgeoning vines. I looked in the pile of wood left by previous homeowners and found old fence slats to make my squash form. Trellises for squash can also be purchased at home and garden centers, but the cheapest way is to gather a few tools and some old wood and do it yourself.
Squash Plants for Trellis Growing
The best varieties for squash trellising are delicata, acorn, zucchini, and yellow summer. The smaller squashes and gourds do well but winter squash, like turban and butternut, can become too heavy and large for a successful vertical garden without additional support.
Some squash will require supplemental support in the form of tying and even fruit slings to prevent the developing fruit from pulling off the vine. Choose the smaller types of squash plants for trellis growing as you start out and then graduate to larger varieties as you master the art of building and maintaining a trellised plant.
How to Grow Squash on a Trellis
You will need two vertical supports, such as stout wooden or metal posts, as your framework. Hammer the pieces in at an angle to each other in a tepee shape. The bottoms of the posts must go deeply enough into the soil to help support a heavy plant laden with large fruit.
Space the posts 5 or 6 feet apart. You can also brace these posts with a cross angle at the base and across the middle to screw or nail into each piece. Growing squash on trellises requires a sturdy foundation as the fruit will weigh heavily on the posts. For larger squash, use a three post system for better stability.
Maintaining Squash Trellises
As the squash grows, select three to five healthy vines to grow on and prune off peripheral growth. Build a framework of wire spaced at least 5 inches apart on the poles. Tie the vines as they get bigger along the wires to help support the plant.
As fruit is borne, use fruit slings to cradle them and prevent the weight from pulling the developing squash off the vine. The cheapest slings are made from old pantyhose, which expand as the fruit grows.
Growing squash on trellises is easy as long as you keep the vines tied and fruit supported as they grow. Other cultivation concerns are the same as any squash planted in a mound. Try vertical gardening and expand your planting real estate for more varieties of veggies in your small space garden.
How to Grow Zucchini on a Trellis
Zucchini is a garden crop that grows easily and abundantly for most gardeners. Growing zucchini on a garden trellis is an effective way of growing more in a small space because less ground space is used. It also is easier to watch for disease and pests, because the vines are up off the ground. In addition, harvesting zucchini growing on trellises is simple because the zucchinis are readily found growing along the sides. Learn how easy it is to grow zucchini on a trellis.
To grow your zucchini plants, choose a location that is on the northern side of your growing area. This will prevent the trellis from shading any of your other plants.
Pound the side trellis posts at least 2 feet into the ground to make sure the trellis will withstand the weight of the zucchini plants and blowing wind.
Plant the zucchini seeds at the base of the trellis approximately 1/2 inch under the soil. Space the seeds so there are two seeds about every 3 feet along the base of the trellis.
Keep the zucchini seeds evenly moist while they are germinating.
Watch the seedlings as they sprout and grow taller. As soon as they start touching the wire mesh of the trellis, begin encouraging them to grow in, out and around the wire mesh of the trellis. You can lightly tie the stalks to the wire mesh to train them, but this should not be necessary. The vines will naturally want to grow up the trellis.
Monitor the plant as it begins to flower and zucchinis begin to grow. Keep the plants well watered.
For best flavor, pick zucchinis before they grow to be 8 inches long. Zucchinis that grow on a trellis tend to be prolific, and you will need to monitor them daily to make sure they do not grow too large.
If you want to start a vertical garden, learning to how to grow zucchini could be the first step to do so. Not only does Zucchini grow nicely into a vine, it doesn’t take too much trouble to grow as well. Read on to learn how to grow zucchini vertically!
Zucchini belongs to the same family as pumpkins, melons, cucumbers and squash. Zucchini are incredibly versatile in the garden. You can also cross breed different varieties of squash, zucchini and pumpkins to produce new varieties. You can save the seeds resulting from the breed and have it planted the following year.
Zucchini are known to contain a good amount of Vitamin C. It also contains useful amounts of potassium, folate and vitamin A. The darker the zucchini, the more packed with nutrients it is. Zucchini can range from yellow, light green to a more darker hue of gray and almost black.
How to grow Zucchini vertically
In order to successfully grow zucchini, follow these simple steps:
The first step is to prepare the area where you are planning to plant the zucchini as well as preparing the seedling for planting. Zucchini is a perfect veggie for directly sowing into your garden!
First, you need to choose a very good area to plant the zucchini seedling. If you already have an existing garden, you may want to plan carefully the layout of the crops as zucchini could grow broad leaves and it might overshadow other crops you may have planted.
If direct sowing Zucchini, make sure to space them in such a way that they won’t overrun each other and other smaller crops which you may also be growing close. If you are short on space, I strongly suggest that you plant the zucchini near the fence, trellis or lattice. Zucchini makes a beautiful vine! You just have to make sure that the poles are strong enough to support the weight of the vine.
Zucchini plants are “big feeders” meaning that they need nutrient dense soil. Make sure to add some well rotted manure to the soil or a good dose of compost to help with the growth and development of the vine.
You also need to cultivate the ground regularly to deter the growth of weeds. Additionally, adding some mulch will help preventing the growth of weeds as well as keeping the fruits clean.
Zucchini is a very hardy plant that can be trained to grow vertically with a little work. The bush varieties or most summer squash can be grown vertically using a small hand made cage or structure. I have had some success with growing zucchini plants in pots with a tomato cage to control the plant.
Other varieties of squash such as Zucchino Rampicante, a variety that vines out much like winter squash can be grown up any trellis as long as you are persistent in keeping the vines tied to their trellis.
When watering the zucchini, you have to see to it that you avoid watering the leaves so as to prevent fungal growth. Be sure to address the first sign of mildew or insects on the vines to keep them under control. Some of the pests and problems you need to be on the lookout for includes pests such as Cucumber Beetles and Vine Borers.
Squash and Zucchini plants are very prolific! They will produce fresh zucchini all throughout the spring and summer if you keep the diseases and pests under control. Be sure to harvest the zucchini at eight inches! When zucchini fruits stay on the plant too long they get too large and are tougher. You can use larger fruits for zucchini bread and other types of baked goods.
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About Post Author
I am on a mission to grow all of our family’s own food. I am passionate about faith, family, farming and educating others to grow their own food.
Staking and Supports
It’s exciting how fast plants can grow once they’re transplanted into your garden. You’re overjoyed to see a little sprout; you turn your back on it for a minute and it’s six feet tall. Kind of like a teenager.
Wrassling with a toppling six-foot-tall plant can be a struggle that is hard on gardeners as well as on blooms and fruit. So corral and support those plants with cages, stakes, trellises and arbors before they become overpowering.
Why not just let plants sprawl where they will? For many reasons: to conserve space and fit more into the garden by growing plants up instead of out; to keep fruit and vegetables and foliage off the ground; to encourage a heavier crop; to help fruit ripen by lifting it into the sunlight; to make the crops easier to find and pick; to let air circulate and dry off leaves, which discourages diseases; to keep plants such as thorny roses clear of walkways; to hold tall flowers such as lilies up where we can enjoy them; and — for some people — just to be tidy.
Here are some basic rules for plant supports:
Rule 1: Sturdier is better. Always. It’s hard to imagine when you’re sowing a seed or planting a little seedling how heavy that fully-laden tomato plant or cucumber vine (or gloriously blooming climbing rose) can grow to be. So when in doubt, over-engineer.
Rule 2: Install your support when you plant. That way, you won’t run the risk of not getting around to it while the plant becomes an overbearing monster.
Rule 3: Match the support to the plant. Plants grow differently. Some want to climb, and will cling and pull themselves up; others will need to be tied. Some can find their way around a fat post and others need something more slender. A fence or a porch railing may make a fine support, depending on what you’re growing. But a mismatch can leave your plant flopping on the ground.
Rule 4: Be gentle. When a plant is tied to a support, the tie can rub or cut the stem as it moves with wind and rain or grows. So use soft materials, such as gentle jute twine, fabric tapes or strips of old pantyhose (black is less conspicuous in the garden than nude). Tie with a figure 8 — loop the tie around the stake, then cross the two ends, then loop them around the plant stem and tie. The knot should be strong but there should be some slack in the figure 8 so the stem can move and has space to grow.
Rule 5: Consider yourself. Don’t create a support that is scratchy or hard to reach behind. Make sure the openings of a trellis are large enough so you will easily be able to pick the mature fruit. And don’t make it taller than you can safely reach, with your feet on the ground, to prune, tie up plants or pick beans or other crops.
Here are some tips support some specific plants in the vegetable and flower garden:
Peas. Garden peas, sugar snaps and snow peas climb by sending out from their leaf stalks slender tendrils that wrap around a support and pull the growing plant up. They can be grown up a chain-link fence; nylon netting with large squares; stretched on a lumber frame or attached to hooks in a wall; wide-space chicken wire; or a trellis made of bent wire, or of willow or other branches that aren’t too thick for the tendrils to grasp.
Beans. For pole beans to climb, the main stem must grow in a spiral around a support, which must be slender for it to reach. One traditional bean pyramid is made of several bamboo poles placed in a circle and tied together at the top. Or use a single sturdy pole pounded well into the ground, tie 10 or 12 long pieces of twine near the top and stake them into the ground to form a circle, or a ready-made bean pole. Or make a sort of pup tent of netting stretched over a horizontal pole.
Tomatoes. Tomatoes evolved to sprawl widely along the ground and need to be corralled or tied in the garden. Ripening tomatoes, especially big beefsteak varieties, are heavy — they’re mostly water– and indeterminate tomato vines can get big, so sturdy support is essential. Some people tie the central tomato vine to a single stout stake and prune off side vines. Others use cages — but it’s worth investing in extra large, tall, well-built ones. Link to this tomato cage. A twisting metal stake will control a tomato vine only if you manually train the plant up the spiral and tie it here and there for support.
Cucumbers. Tendrils growing out from their stems grab onto a support and pull up a cucumber vine. Like peas, cucumbers need a strong support that still is slender enough to grasp, such as wire, twine or sturdy netting with large mesh. Guide the young plants up onto the support, and from there, they’ll figure it out.
Melons. They climb by tendrils, like cucumbers, and can be grown on a very strong structure. But heavy melons nearing ripeness often fall to the ground and crack, so gardeners may devise slings to hold them up. For large melons, such as muskmelons and watermelons, growing off the ground simply won’t work.
Summer squash. Most summer squash varieties sold today are bush types and don’t require support. But vining varieties of summer squash, and gourds, can be trained up a fence or sturdy trellis by tying.
Pumpkins. A handful of miniature pumpkin varieties, such as ‘Jack B. Little’ and ‘Wee B. Little’, have fruits small and light enough that their vines can be tied to a trellis. But most winter squashes and pumpkins are too heavy and their vines must sprawl on the ground. Champion-big-pumpkin hobbyists often enthrone their most hopeful specimens on cushions of straw or packing foam to protect them from rot.
Flowers and ornamental plants
Roses. Climbing roses flower best on canes that are growing horizontally. So provide a strong trellis or arbor that allows you to go wide as well as high. Rose canes will need to be tied to their support (elbow-length leather gloves are useful).
Lilies. In spring, thrust a stake securely into the soil next to each new lily shoot. Some gardeners use green bamboo stakes and tie the lilies inconspicuously with green jute twine. Others use a wire stake that has a loop to hold each stem. Secure each stem to the stake when it is 12 or 18 inches high, before it has a chance to flop, or the bud will emerge at an awkward angle. Taller lilies need extra-long stakes.
Peonies. Their voluptuous blooms often drag these bushy plants down, especially after rain. The best cure is a peony cage, a sort of grid on stilts that you install over the early shoots in spring. The stems will grow up through the spaces of the grid so it supports the plant when the blooms get heavy.
Clematis. These vines climb by grasping with their twining leaf stalks. They can’t grasp anything thick, so the material of the trellis should be no more than 1/2 inch in diameter. If your trellis is made of thicker lumber, try running transparent nylon fishing line to and fro to give the clematis something smaller to grab onto. Clematis also will happily haul itself up the branches of a shrub; hence the classic look of roses and clematis. Another leaf-stalk twiner: climbing nasturtiums.
Morning glories. Like pole beans, morning glories (as well as moonflowers, black-eyed Susan vine and the hops vines than flavor beer) climb as the main stem grows in a spiral around whatever it comes across. Morning glories can be rampant, so don’t plant them near anything flimsy. Grids are available that fit around a downspout or mailbox post to help morning glories climb it and hide it (or you can achieve the same thing with chicken wire). But be careful the vines don’t climb far enough to clog the gutter.
Wisteria. This woody plant is another spiraling climber. It needs a very strong, permanent support, because a wisteria vine can live for decades and become immensely heavy.
Did you know there are three types of climbing vegetables? Learn how to choose the right trellis to grow your climbing vegetables vertically.
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Climbing vegetables—such as cucumbers, squash, and beans—are happiest when allowed to grow the way they naturally desire: vertically.
However, there are other benefits, too. Growing vertically saves space, can produce higher yields, and can reduce susceptibility to many plant diseases.
Types of Climbing Vegetables to Trellis
There are three major types of climbing vegetables:
- Tendrilers (my made-up word to describe vegetables with tendrils)
Knowing the difference in their growing tendencies can help you choose the right support structure.
Cucumbers, squash, peas, pole beans, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are some of the most common vining vegetables. I assumed all trellising structures were created equal, until I noticed that certain climbing vegetables didn’t seem to take to the structure I provided it.
Let’s look at the three common types of climbing vegetables and what kind of trellis will best meet their needs.
How to Trellis Tendrilers (Cucumbers, Peas, and Many Squash Varieties)
Cucumbers, peas, and many squash varieties have tendrils that reach out from the plant’s stem in search of something to grab onto and climb. The tendrils can go upwards and sideways.
Tendrils prefer to grab onto something organic and non-metallic, such as a twine trellis or wood lattice.
Consider something sturdy, like a wooden obelisk. You can make a metal trellis friendly to the tendril climber by wrapping twine around the metal supports and creating a twine grid in open spaces.
I found this out the hard way. One year, I ran out of wooden stakes to create vertical support for a cucumber plant.
So I used a metal trellis and planned to wrap it with twine. Unfortunately, I got busy and didn’t add the twine in time. Because the tendrils of the cucumber plant couldn’t latch onto the metal, they just flopped over. Consequently, I had to manually tie the plant to the metal trellis as it grew.
Read more about growing your best cucumbers.
To support the weight of heavier vegetables like winter squash, consider using a sturdy teepee or A-frame trellis made with bamboo stakes (like these) and garden twine. I use the twine to create 4-inch grids between the bamboo poles.
A note on squash: There are many varieties, but if the variety you are growing is a vine/climber, then it will follow the tendril rule.
Winter squash growing on a bamboo-and-twine teepee.
Would you like to learn more about growing vegetables efficiently to reduce maintenance and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my award-winning book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
How to Trellis Twiners (Pole Beans)
Pole beans are twiners, meaning that as the vining stem grows upward, it will wrap itself around anything it can touch.
Twiners aren’t picky about what they climb, therefore you can grow them on any type of trellis, support structure, or fence that you want. Just be sure it is tall, as they can grow almost indefinitely.
When the beans reach the top of the grid on my privacy fence, I pinch off the ends of the vines to prevent them from growing over the fence and onto my neighbor’s side.
One interesting thing to note is that pole beans twine in a counterclockwise habit. If you’re training a bean plant to grow up a support structure, observe its pattern and be sure to twine it in the direction that would be natural for the vine.
Below, my beans are growing on the privacy fence using a trellis made of galvanized wire fence.
Green beans climb a metal grid attached to the privacy fence.
How to Trellis Scramblers (Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes)
Tomatoes and sweet potatoes aren’t in the same family, but they’re both scrambling vines. If left to their own devices, they’ll scramble happily along the ground, rooting in the ground as they go from nodes along the vine.
That’s why it’s common to support tomatoes with cages, ladders, or a trellis. Because tomatoes don’t have tendrils to attach themselves, you may need to tie the plants to the support structure as they grow.
(I have these cages and these ladders from Gardener’s Supply Company.)
If the plant falls over for some reason, it may root itself sideways and keep going, as running along the ground is its natural tendency. Encouraging the plant to grow straight up means that it will put more energy into making tomatoes than into rooting itself.
Tomatoes growing in the front yard, supported by various cages, ladders, and trellises.
Sweet potatoes are probably the most low-maintenance vegetable in my garden. I grow them vertically to save space, but as a scrambler, I have to train them to do so.
Wooden stake-and-twine structures allow me to weave the vines in and out of the twine grid as they grow. Since the sweet potato plant is a prolific vine, an A-frame trellis or teepee provides sturdy support.
Read more about harvesting, curing, and storing sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes and winter squash growing on an A-frame trellis (shown here at the end of June).
Scrambling sweet potatoes and tendriling winter squash growing on an A-frame trellis (shown here at the end of July).
Sweet potatoes growing on a bamboo-and-twine teepee.
I hope this helped you understand how different climbing vegetables grow so that you can choose the right trellis or support structure.
Enjoy adding vegetable climbers to your garden for a beautiful, vertical dimension, an efficient use of space, and disease prevention.
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How do you trellis the climbing vegetables in your garden?
The Secrets to Successful Squash
A longtime favorite crop among backyard gardeners, squash grow quickly and produce furiously. To successfully grow your own squash, follow this simple guide.
Squash come in many shapes in sizes. But there are two main types:
- Summer squash, including zucchini and yellow varieties, are often distinguished by bushy (rather than vining) growth.
- Winter squash, such as acorn and butternut, are typically vining plants that require more space and time to grow. But they produce fruit with tougher skins, which allows you to store harvests much longer than you can summer varieties.
All types of squash love sun and heat. So for best results (and bigger harvests), grow squash in full sun once temperatures consistently stay above 70˚.
Fun Fact: Squash is so prolific that August 8 is officially designated National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day—a day dedicated to giving away excess harvests.
You may need to hand pollinate your squash for reliable yields.
Planting, Pruning, Pollinating and Protecting Squash
Ready to grow squash in your Tower Garden? Start by planting no more than 2 seeds per rock wool cube. Once they sprout, place seedlings outside in the sun for 3–4 weeks before transplanting to your Tower Garden.
Tower Tip: For step-by-step instructions on starting seeds and transplanting seedlings, reference page 7 of the Tower Garden Growing Guide.
Since both summer and winter varieties grow quite large, we recommend planting squash in the bottom section of your Tower Garden. Be sure to monitor water levels as your plants grow, as squash are heavy feeders.
To encourage healthy, more manageable growth, consider supporting plants with a tomato cage or similar structure. You should also prune your plants occasionally to improve air circulation. This will help prevent powdery mildew and other common squash diseases.
Squash are notorious for needing help with pollination. If your plants produce flowers but no fruit, or if your squash shrivel and die before growing large enough to harvest, try hand pollinating.
With Tower Garden, you’re less likely to encounter pests. But it’s still a good idea to regularly inspect your plants for common squash pests, such as cucumber beetles and shield bugs. And it’s even better to know what to do if you find them. Learn how to naturally control garden pests here.
Harvesting and Eating Squash
Most summer squash varieties will be ready to harvest about 60 days after planting. To harvest, simply cut fruits from the vine once they are 6–8 inches long. If you wait much longer, they will become less tender and flavorful.
Winter squash are a little different. When the rind of a fruit is hard enough to resist being punctured with a fingernail, it’s ready to harvest. You can usually store winter squash in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
Ready to eat your homegrown squash? Tower Gardeners recommend using it in ratatouille, fried rice and soups. And did you know squash flowers make a nice treat, too? They’re often used to decorate salads and enjoyed as fried snacks.
Do you have questions about growing squash? Leave us a comment below.
Growing vegetables on trellises is an effective way of extending your garden space. Vine plants like zucchini are excellent candidates for trellising. Not only are you saving space by lifting the plants off the ground, you are protecting the plant from disease and pests. Trellising also makes zucchini easier to pick.
Cross two poles in an X shape with the bottom section larger. Secure the tops by weaving twine where the two poles form the X, going over and around and up and down the four sections made by the poles. Weave until it feels secure to you when you push or tug on it. Expect to use up to a foot of twine to secure each X.
Bury poles at least 3 inches in the ground to help with support.
Continue Steps 1 and 2 with your other poles, placing each X about 6 inches apart.
Use your last pole to combine all your X’s into one structure by running it the length of your X’s. Place it in flat on the crook of your X’s and, using the same weaving pattern, secure it to each X.
Run the chicken wire mesh along one side only of your support system from the ground up. This is important so you can reach crops growing on either side of the wire mesh. Staple taut in place.
Plant zucchini seeds along the base of your trellis about a 1/2 inch underground and 2 to 3 feet apart.
Water and keep ground moist until plants begin to germinate. Thin weaker seedlings if needed. As the seedlings begin to reach your mesh trellis, they should start weaving their way through the wire as they grow. A little encouragement to grow in the pattern you wish may help, but is not necessary.
Mulch heavily between seedlings after germination to help combat weeds. Zucchini are heavy feeders that require a lot of nutrients.
I’ve grown squashes for as long as I can remember, and spaghetti squash has always been in rotation. Follow these tips for growing and harvesting, and you’ll have a crop of your own next season.
Growing Spaghetti Squash
I recommend starting with transplants. Plant them in a spot with full sun about 2 weeks after the last spring frost. Spaghetti squash requires loose, well-drained soil. I suggest adding some compost to it as well since the plants need nutrient-dense soil. Plant spaghetti squash in hills, with 3 or 4 transplants per hill and 3 feet between each hill.
Water your spaghetti squash plants regularly. After the peak of summer, remove blossoms from the squash plants. You’ll want their energy going into growing the squashes on the vine.
If they sit in one place too long without air circulation, your spaghetti squashes will start to rot. To prevent this, place boards or tiles underneath them.
Spaghetti Squash in Containers
My favorite spaghetti squash to grow in containers is the ‘Tivoli‘ variety. It’s high-yield and has short vines with a sturdy, upright habit. The plant will reach about 2 feet tall and may stretch up to 3 feet wide in containers.
Use a large container, no smaller than 5 gallons. During the growing season, feed the plants lightly to make up for the lack of nutrients in the potting soil.
Harvesting Spaghetti Squash
Unlike other types of squash, spaghetti squash needs to be harvested when it is fully mature. One trick for testing this is to scrape your fingernail against the skin of the squash. If your fingernail punctures the squash skin, it needs more time to mature.
You can store spaghetti squash in a cool, dry place for at least a couple of months. Don’t wash your squash before storing it. Moisture is the enemy!
Make sure the squashes don’t touch one another and turn them once a week. You can also store the spaghetti squash in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
You can learn more about the health benefits of spaghetti squash here.