Guest Author - Jackie Lee
Do you have limited gardening space? Do you want to give more dimension or depth to your flower gardens? Are you looking for a dramatic focal point? Have you thought about vertical gardening?
Vertical gardening is taking plants that would usually sprawl out and growing them up instead of out.
Most of your larger variety vegetables, including melons, cucumbers, tomatoes and even squash can be grown vertically, thereby reducing the overall amount of space you will need, without decreasing the harvest.
To begin vertical gardening you will need some sort of vertical structure. This can be a store bought trellis, small or large limbs wrapped together in the shape of a tee-pee, or even as simple as some tubing in the shape of an upside down U with string stretched across and up and down. There's no limit to the structures you can use for your vertical garden.
Most vegetables will need to be trained, this can be done simply, depending on the type of plant and how easily it is trained, by tying the plant to your support with a twist tie, or even better yet stockings. Stockings allow the plant to grow without digging into the stems. Some plants have little shoots that are specifically for grabbing on and climbing up. For these plants you just need to get them started climbing by wrapping the little shoots around your structure, after a few times they will get the hang of it and move on up on their own.
Vertical gardening can be a wonderful addition to a flower bed as well. A beautiful trellis, arch or tee-pee shaped structure can make an excellent focal point, or add interest in an otherwise level area.
There are many different vining plants that work great for vertical gardening. They come in many different colors, both annual and perennial. If you are planting a perennial vine make sure you are putting it where you want it. It will take off eventually and be almost impossible to get rid of. It's important to make sure when you are choosing which plants and how many, that you think of the plant at it's full growth and not the sweet little plant in a four inch pot. My biggest garden mistake was planting not one or even two, but four trumpet vines next to my porch. At the time we had a nice lattice work wall on the porch and it was a fine idea. However, since then we have removed the latticework and now I have this unmanageable trumpet vine coming up everywhere! It does attract the hummingbirds, but I certainly would not make that planting choice again.
Once you've planted your chosen climbing vine under or next to your support you will need to train it as you do vegetables, but since these are climbing plants it will not take much training to get them off and running. Remember that many vining plants will grow well over 30 feet tall, so keep in mind the end plant when you are choosing. If you aren't certain that the vertical element will be a long term piece of your garden I would choose an annual vine. It allows you to have quick growing beauty without the commitment of a perennial.