GardeningFruit & Vegetable Suggestions For Vertical Gardening

Fruit & Vegetable Suggestions For Vertical Gardening

untrained housewife
untrained housewife

Vertical gardening is a fast-growing trend for gardeners who are trying to maximize their space and it only makes sense to grow as many plants UP as possible.

“By using vertical gardening space, you’ll be able to grow more produce. And you’ll be able to include some of the larger vegetables and melons that you might not think to include in a traditional small home garden.” ~ Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) page 50

Here are twelve plants that will naturally lend themselves towards vertical gardening that you can tuck into trellis, fence rows, or raised beds for more produce in a small space.

Blackberries

Blackberries are a rambling fruit bramble that can be trained naturally up a fence row. They are heavier than annual vegetables like cucumbers and will prefer a little more support. In this photo we planted blackberries along the side of a chicken run to provide shade to the chicken’s outdoor pen during the hot summer days of Oklahoma. These are wild brambles we dug up and transplanted so they have thorns (we wanted thorns as an added layer of protection for the chicken coop) but thornless varieties are available commercially.

Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes or muskmelons can be pricey in the store and hard to find in a variety of types unless you grow them yourself. Try some of the mini muskmelon varieties which grow in perfect single-serving size. If growing a variety with larger fruit try using panty hose or burlap sacks as a sling to support the weight of the fruit.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are natural climbing plants that will climb anything within reach – even other plants! Provide a tall trellis and the only thing you’ll need to watch out for is to make sure you get the vines trained in the right direction when they are young. Heirloom varieties have a wider variety of flavors to choose from than traditional cucumbers.

Gourds

Gourds are related to winter squashes and both can have very long vines that benefit from vertical gardening. Gourd vines can grow as long at 25 feet in some varieties so be sure you provide plenty of room for them to sprawl! As with melons, larger fruits may need to be individually supported to prevent them from ripping off the vines too early.

Grapes

A perennial plant, grape vines will need to be placed in an area with sturdy fencing or support. These should be considered a permanent planting and grapes need yearly pruning also so there is a little more maintenance involved with them than an annual plant. On the other hand, you get beautiful and delicious fruit clusters year after year, and big, broad leaves perfect for shade over an arbor or pergola.

Grape vines growing on a patio arbor

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate tomatoes will continue to produce and continue to grow throughout the growing season. That’s why they are excellent candidates for growing vertically. You can actually grow more over the course of the summer than you would be able to otherwise, but they won’t be ripe all at the same time. Be prepared for taller vines than you may have realized – ours reach more than 8 feet in our garden.

Tomato Vines Growing Up a Fence

Peas

Peas are a cool season vegetable that will not tolerate the heat of summer well so plant them in late summer for a fall harvest, or start them indoors in late winter to transplant in early spring. Peas have clasping tendrils that assist their climbing efforts so they are super easy to grow vertically. Be careful when you harvest your peas so you don’t accidentally rip them!

Pole Beans

Pole beans are the same as bush beans except they aren’t bred to stay short and compact – they still grow the long, tendrilly vines that conjure the memories of cottage gardens and children’s summer vegetable-garden hideaways. Beans are prolific, and the pole bean versions will grow several feet long.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a winter squash which means they ripen on the vine until the skin is thick and more hard than soft-skinned summer squash. Your squash vines will grow very large with huge leaves and become heavy – they will need extra support. The larger fruits will need extra support.

Raspberries

Raspberries are related to blackberries and will grow several feet long. Raspberries grow best when certified virus-free stock is used, however as with blackberries, there are wild brambles available in many areas of the US. For a children’s garden area I do recommend purchasing the thornless varieties. Raspberries don’t store well so pick and eat as much as you can while they are ripe!

Watermelons

While most grocery stores carry only one or two types of watermelons, the home gardener can choose from dozens of readily available heirloom and hybrid varieties. Try one of the smaller watermelons such as Jenny Lind or Golden Midget which are perfect for vertical gardens. The larger fruits over 20 pounds will need a lot of extra support or may not be as suitable for vertical gardening techniques

Zucchini

Zucchini is a summer squash which is harvest before fully mature and has thinner skin so it doesn’t store as long as the winter squashes do. They are, however, naturally suited to vertical growing techniques if you avoid the bush varieties. Vining varieties you can look for include Table Dainty, Odessa, or Black Beauty (the classic green zucchini).

For more information on keeping a productive backyard garden check out Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) and pick up a copy of Vertical Vegetable Gardening by my friend Chris for small space productivity!

Angela England is the Founder of Untrained Housewife (http://untrainedhousewife.com) and Homestead Bloggers Network (http://homesteadbloggersnetwork.com) and lives with her husband and five children in rural Oklahoma. She authored Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (http://backyardfarmingguide.com) and when she leaves the house it’s to speak at conferences around the US.

Angela England, Freelance Writer, Author, and Speaker. http://angengland.com
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Alpha Books, 2012)
http://facebook.com/BackyardFarming
Founder of Untrained Housewife http://untrainedhousewife.com
Follow me on Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/AngEngland

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