Trellising Pumpkins and Squash
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Trellis- "a frame of latticework used as a screen or as a support for climbing plants"
What a dry definition for a wonderful tool in the gardeners toolbag. There is so many ways you can utilize a trellis in the garden as just a simple support for plants or as a frame work for building a beautiful landscaped area using living plants and flowers. Now I do not claim to be a expert in any sense of the word about trellising plants and what you can do with it. In fact this is the first summer I have every tried to trellis anything other than putting cages around tomatoes.
I decided to start my learning curve into trellising by diving strait past the easy stuff like beans and going right to the big stuff. Plants like pumpkins, watermelons, squash and cucumbers can also be trellised quite successfully but to do this right a couple of things need to change about your trellis system.
1. It needs to be made larger and stronger
2. Need to have a mechanism in place to support fruit on the vine
As long as you build something or already have something in place that can take large amounts of fruiting vines you can just dive right in. Now in my particular case I have a handy chain link fence that is at the back of my long thin garden.
Since it was already strong enough to take the weight of what I was going to trellis I could just dive right in it. To get something to trellis you might have to give it a helping hand. You will usually have to direct it onto the trellis and sometimes you will have to loosely tie it to get it to climb up the supporting structure. I had to tie vines to the fence to get them to climb properly and that is okay as long as you don't constrict or damage the vines in the process.
Getting the vines to climb is only the first step in trellising large garden plants like squash and pumpkins. Once they start to flower and fruit then the most important part of this type of trellising comes into play. You have to provide some sort of support for the growing fruit or else it will grow so heavy it will tear itself right off the vine.
If the fruit is close enough to the ground you can simple build something up to meet the fruit and support like a shelf or stacked rocks or bricks.
If they are to high you will have to resort to using other methods and materials. Some things that I found to work well are scraps of old white sheets and cut up burlap sacks. With a little twine, some sewing and bungee cords I made pretty nifty (that's right I said nifty) supports for the fruit.
So with a few consideration you can trellis large sized fruits traditionally reserved for the ground. The question a lot of people would ask is why would I do this instead of just letting the vines spread naturally. Well the answer to that question is that I simply don't have the space and I love squash and pumpkins so I was compelled to think of something.
There are many more ways you can trellis garden plants and I would love to hear more from you about it so let me know what you have done or what you have seen or read about.