Dakota Gardener: Growing Cucumbers on a Trellis

Apr 22, 2024

By Carrie Knudson

Gardening can be a lot of work, but there are different growing techniques that gardeners can use to help save some work and their back! One of those techniques is using a trellis to grow vining crops like cucumbers, small melons and squash.

Those vining plants and many more, have tendrils. Tendrils are modified leaves or parts of stems that can wrap around structures to help support the stems. Tendrils are marvels in themselves. They respond to touch and can wrap around objects several times in less than an hour.

Cucumbers are ideal to grow on a trellis because the fruits are smaller and don’t need any extra support. Small melons and squash (less than 3 pounds) can also be grown on a trellis. Sometimes if the fruit is too heavy, it can slip from the vines too early. Gardeners can make slings out of lightweight cloth to support the fruit until it is ripe.

I have not tried growing anything other than cucumbers on a trellis. However, I have seen gardeners grow larger squash and melons on trellises. Be sure to do some experimenting and see what works for your garden.

To put the vine’s tendrils to work, first install your trellis system. This can be as simple as a normal straight length of fencing. Other options would be to make an arbor style trellis.

Type of materials vary for trellises from metal fencing, chicken wire or plastic netting to mesh. You can use whatever you have on hand. Just make sure it is sturdy enough to support the vines and fruits, and handle whatever Mother Nature throws at it. For example, sustained 40 mph winds.

Anchor your trellis into the ground with metal or wooden stakes that are inserted into the ground at least 1 foot deep. This will help the trellis withstand strong winds.

Securely attach the trellis material to the stakes using nails, staples, zip-ties or wire depending on your trellis material. Remember those vines and fruit will add weight to the trellis, so don’t skimp on this step.

After the trellis is installed and secure, you can plant your cucumbers as you normally would. As the vines grow early in the season, you might have to gently guide the vines towards the trellis. Then they will take-off and grow up the trellis. During the growing season, you might have to guide a few errant vines back to the trellis. However, the hard work is done and picking your cucumbers will be a joyful garden task.

Note, depending on the spacing of your fencing material, watch for fruit that might grow in between the spaces in your trellis. You might have to check to make sure the fruit isn’t caught and has enough room to grow.

For years, due to space restrictions in my garden and the necessity to have a fence to keep our dog out, I have used the fence as a trellis to grow my cucumbers on. I won’t grow them any other way. What space and back saving techniques do you use? Happy gardening!

Source : ndsu.edu
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