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The Art of Trellising

Hi everyone! We’ve been delayed in getting a post out this past month, as is has felt more important to spend time in conversation and self-education about the current events in our country.

We hope you have all set aside time, in whatever way is functional for you, to be continually involved in the movement against systemic racism. It is one of the perennial weeds in our societal garden, and we as people living on and loving this land are called to eradicate it.

So sharpen your hoes and get hackin’.

This month is a month of big growth. In Oregon our days will stretch to nearly 16 hours in length near the summer solstice, and despite a few rainy days the plants are really showing what they can do with all of that sunshine.

As these growing spurts kick in it’s time to assemble a trellising system for any indeterminate plants that you’re growing (if you haven’t done so already).

Here are some of the trellising techniques we use in the field or in our gardens:

T-Posts & Hortonova

Good for vegetables like: peas, pole beans, cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes, melons, and squash

Good for flowers like: sweet peas, scabiosa, snapdragons, chrysanthemums, celosia, cosmos, stock, and other long-stemmed blooms

This combo is classic, quick, and recommended for both delicate and heavy-bearing plants.

Using t-posts and a post pounder you can set up a straight row for your Hortonova netting to hang vertical. To keep your netting in place we like to use zip ties, but you can also use tightly knotted twine. This is useful for any climbing/vining plants like peas and pole beans, which will grab on to the netting as they grow. You can also use this on squash, cucumbers, melons, or indeterminate tomatoes but these will need a little extra support as they grow. As these plants grow you can tie them onto the netting using string or twine.

If you're concerned about the weight of your plants, you can consider running a metal wire along the top of your t-posts and securing your Hortonova to this. This is not necessary if you're only growing a few, lighter-weight plants. Here's a closer look on how you can set this up:

Another use for the Hortonova netting is horizontal support in a cut flower garden. Using a horizontal support will help keep flower stems long, and prevent the plants from falling over when the blooms get too heavy. To set this up, make a rectangle with the t-posts. You will want to be sure that the netting is wide enough to be stretched across the short side of your rectangle. Once you have the posts in the ground you can stretch the netting to fit as tightly as possible around the posts, and then lower the netting down the posts until it is 6-8 inches above the ground.

Here's an example of the horizontal netting on some of the cut flower plots of Barn Swallow Blossoms (Check out her beautiful flowers here). These stakes are used in the place of t-posts, but either will do the job!

We also want to note that Hortonova is a plastic netting. Although plastic is incredible useful, it's also incredible wasteful. Hortonova can be used for multiple years if kept in good shape and stored well. We advocate for doing so.

T-Posts & String

Good for vegetables like: peppers, eggplant, determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes, and peas

Another way to trellis that we often use on the farm involves t-posts and string or twine. This is great for all tomatoes, as well as any tall peppers and eggplants that you worry might topple over. To set this up, place t-posts at either end of a row of plants in your garden. Once your plants have grown about a foot tall tie a string on one of the end t-posts, about 8-12 inches off of the ground. You can then serpentine the string around your plants until you reach a t-post at the other end, where you will wrap the string around and serpentine back the first t-post in an alternating pattern to the way you first went through and tie off the string at the same end that you started from. You can repeat this process as your plants grow, leaving about 8-12 inches between strings. To help visualize the process, check out this video:

String & Whatever you’ve got

Good for whatever you can think of, keeping in mind the weight and height of your plants!

Finally, and maybe the best of all, is the make it up with some string and whatever you’ve got method. We’ve used this successfully on everything from sweet peas to heirloom tomatoes in our gardens and it’s always the most fun. This approach is all about making do with what you have around that is tall and can bear weight. In the past we’ve made bamboo lean-tos and tied strings to our indeterminate tomatoes, which had a great look but became more and more of a lean-over as the season went on. Our most recent use of string in the garden is the “Wall of Sweet Peas” that we set up along a sunny fence line this year. Not only is it a great built-in trellis spot, the fencing actually blocks the wind and has helped the peas to grow extra lush!

We really recommend trying a new type of trellising on at least one plant every year.

It’s so easy to be passive in your trellising approaches in the garden. Those little metal cages that hold your tomatoes off the ground are cheap and get the job done. But if you’re looking to increase your yields, or fine-tune your ideal garden aesthetic, trellising is a great place to pay attention to.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to see pictures of our Wall of Sweet Peas in bloom, and let us know how you’re trellising plants this year! We’re always looking for creative inspiration from other green-thumbed folks.

And…this wraps up our spring posts for the season, and the next time you hear from us it will be SUMMER. Can you believe it? We can’t.

Cheers to enjoying the long days and the wave of the seasonal bounty!

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