" It's Our Garden "

By Elizabeth and Crow Miller


More Garden Space By Using Fences Trellis's, And Stakes

Every vegetable garden should have some sort of fence around it, not only to keep visitors from walking in uninvited, but more important, as support for growing crops. Take a small garden, say 20 by 25-feet, fence it with poultry netting 5 or 6-feet high, and you have increased your effective space by 50% or more. You've also saved the time and trouble involved in providing stakes or cages for tomatoes, poles for your beans, and supports for peas.

You can obviously plant all your pole beans, tall peas, and tomatoes close to the fence. Less obviously, you can plant many other crops along the ready-made trellis and count on their doing at least as well as they would if allowed to sprawl over dozens of square feet of your garden.

Cucumbers grow specially well on a fence. Instead of planting them in hills, push a dozen seeds into the soil an inch or two from the fence, about 3-inches apart. You'll also find the fruit colors more uniformly, without the white streak that frequently spoils its appearance if not the taste.

Melons are another excellent crop for vertical gardening. Muskmelons, though, should have cradles made for them out of cheesecloth, or similar material spread under the fruit and secured to the fence. Otherwise, as melons ripen and stems begin to loosen, the fruit will fall to the ground.

In growing your vegetables on a fence, remember that the principles of crop succession apply. Any given section of fence can support more than one crop each season. Tall peas may be started first. Pole limas and Pole string beans can go in a little later and a few inches farther from the fence. Tomato plants can be set a full foot away, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and squashes planted between them.

I'm continually being told by people living in the suburbs that they would like to grow a few tomatoes or something of that sort, but have no room. Over years of experimenting in vegetable growing, my answer has become: "If you have room for a fence, you have room for tomatoes, and many other crops too.

What I tell them amounts to this: If you want to grow tomatoes, get a dozen strong plants and set them within a foot of your fence in a sunny spot Dig deep holes for the plants, and leave only the tips exposed above the paper collars you wrap around them to stop cutworms. Apply compost, bone meal and some 4-6-4 organic fertilizer liberally over the surface. As the plants take hold and start to grow, mulch them with hay or straw. When they begin to sprawl, prune main branches off to the best 2 or 3, and tie these to the fence with strips of cloth, being careful to take a turn loosely around each stem with the tie made at the fence end. This gives you a sling for each branch which, like a surgical sling for a tender arm, supports it without risk of injury. After that, all you have to do is make similar slings for the higher growth, and you will have a nice crop of tomatoes.

So much for tomatoes. The same applies to all the crops mentioned earlier Anyone who has a piece of fencing anywhere, or a place for one, has room for a good vegetable garden of corresponding dimensions. By feeding the soil with organic fertilizers and soil amendments, including all crop residues, along a 2-foot-wide strip next to a fence, you can grow astonishing quantity, of choice vegetables at little cost beyond the price of seeds.

Copyright o 1995

The Garden