Building a Trellis
One of the most common and most
useful garden structures is a trellis. It's also known as a "lattice," or
criss-cross framework. The criss-cross aspect is important because light and
air can get through the trellis, even though it's a structure. Better yet, the
many angles in the cross-crossing slats give plants that like to grow by
climbing lots of support, just as they need.
Many people associate their best
memories of summer with a trellis that supported Grandma's clematis, or Grandpa's
grape crop. Climbing roses also are well-known trellis residents, even though
they don't put out tendrils - just have extra-long canes that need to be tied
as they grow.
aren't an experienced carpenter, you can get a book or find an online tutorial
for building a more elaborate trellis structure. Or you can sink some tall
posts into the ground, connect them at the top with crosspieces, and nail
prefabricated, pretreated trellis sections, which usually come in 4' x 8'
sheets. Beware: they can split or break quite easily until installed.
cucumber trellis is somewhat simpler. The same A-frame trellis structure can be
used for cucumbers, melons, gourds, acorn squash and even smaller pumpkins.
Getting these plants into the air will help keep bugs off the fruit, which you'll
appreciate, along with the benefits of improved air circulation, preventing
mildew and fungus on leaves.
Keep it simple, and use sturdy posts that will
last for years, and tough 3' or 4' lengths of chicken wire. A common solution
is to use concrete reinforcing mesh nailed to an A-frame of 2x3's, an ideal
set-up for melons, that might get heavy.
smart to have your trellis face south. These crops really need heat and light.
It's smart to locate your trellis on the north end of your garden, running east
to west, so they won't block the wun from your other crops.
can use the soil underneath the trellis for temporary crops such as lettuce,
onions or greens such as turnips, which creates a "two-story garden" that is
very space-efficient. As the leaves grow and spread on the trellis, the lettuce
or greens benefit from the shade and coolness, so it's a winning situation.
ahead to install your trellis on planting day. If you put a trellis in place
after the roots have started to grow, you could damage the baby plant when you
stake and install the support structure.
to check the plants regularly; usually, you have to guide the plant up the
trellis, and sometimes tie plant vines to it with jute string, soft yarn, old pantyhose
or plastic garden tape. Certain melons like to be "cradled" in old nylon
stockings or onion sacks, like a "sling" tied to the trellis.