The art of vertical growing is a wonderful solution for small space gardening. You can enjoy fresh organic vegetables even if you only have a small balcony or patio. If you don’t wish to have a traditional field garden you can enjoy a wide variety of vegetables by growing vertically. This technique can also be used in raised beds and even field plantings.
Easy to Grow Up
Once you try growing your vegetables vertically, you’ll never want to return to the old method of horizontal gardening. Vine and climbing varieties work best but there are other ways to grow vegetables vertically through specific systems.
If you love green beans, lima beans, Chinese red or green beans and a large variety of other legumes, select varieties that vine. You can create all types of ways for the beans to grow up a trellis. Create your own trellis with bamboo poles and twine or simply use a plastic mesh designed to be strung between poles or frames.
You can use vertical growing in a field, raised bed or even in grow bags.
- Use a grow bag with three slender bamboo poles 6 to 8 feet tall.
- If using a round grow bag, use three poles.
- A square bag can easily support four poles, although you can use only three.
- Create a tripod with the poles and tie them together like a teepee at the top with plain twine.
- Plant two bean seeds per pole, one of each side of the pole.
Tips for Growing Green Beans
Beans naturally produce nitrogen in the soil, which it’s a great companion for nitrogen hungry corn.
- Don’t soak the seeds prior to using.
- Plant beans 1″ deep.
- 60-90 days, most green beans require 90 days.
- You don’t need to worry about fertilizing as long as your soil is organic and naturally full of rich nutrient.
- I use a fish emulsion spray on mine since I’ve discovered that spraying directly onto the plants has better absorption.
Don’t use any fertilizer until the plants have begun to climb the poles. You want there to be at least two or three second leaf sets. (first leaves of all plants emerge from the seed, so these aren’t considered the actual plant leaves.
For the first six weeks, spray plants once every two weeks. After that only fertilize once every three weeks. I rarely fertilize more than a few times since I’m using soil augmented over the last 10 years with compost. It’s super rich in nutrients.
Depending on the variety, length of growing season and quality of soil and care, each bean plant can produce 1 quart every time you pick beans. Some varieties might not produce as many, so you’ll want to experiment with different varieties.
- Plant the same variety in a grow bag.
- Some bean varieties will continue to produce up until frost, while others have a shorter lifespan.
- Succession plantings are best for any type of vegetable.
- Plant a couple of grow bags every two weeks to have continuous beans throughout the growing season.
If you live where the temperatures reach the high 90s or 100s, don’t be surprised if your beans stop producing and resume once the heat drops back into the 80s and low 90s.
Tomatoes and Cucumbers
You can also grow tomatoes and cucumbers using vertical growing methods. Indeterminate tomatoes (vining tomatoes) are easy to train to grow up a bamboo pole or two. You can help train by tying the stems to the pole. Be care that you don’t tie too tightly to allow room for the stem to grow.
Indeterminate tomato vines can grow between six to 12 feet long. If you’re using a frame, you can use cords suspended from the top of the frame for the plants to climb. Bury the cord or twine underneath the tomato root ball when planting the tomato. This will keep the line secure so the tomato can wrap itself around the cord.
Cucumbers will vine similarly to pole beans. Like pole beans, they will continue to vine. Some people use an arbor type system that allows the vines to grow up a pole or frame and then travel across an expanse of the frame and down the opposite side. This allows the beans, cucumbers or other vegetable to dangle from the overhead frame for easy picking.
Vertical Growing Means Bigger Yield
You can maximize your growing space by employing the vertical growing technique for all your vining vegetables. By growing up, you can free up ground space to allow for more plants.