What Grows Vertically – Problems with Canal Water and Manure

Q.  I connected with your web site after admiring the beautiful garden west of Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.  (my family was admiring the giraffes!)   I like the concept of vertical gardening.  My question is this:  Can you grow stuff like pumpkins, watermelons, squash, etc.  up a wire?  If you do, how do you support the fruit.  Even cucumbers seem like they’d be too heavy.   I’m excited to try the drip irrigation system this spring.  I feel like I’ve been knocking my head against a wall for 15 years because we water with canal water and fertilize with horse manure.  My kids and I could spend our whole lives in the garden and couldn’t begin to keep the weeds out of it.  This year we’ll be using well water and trying the Mittleider method. I hope we can manage to kill off all that grass and morning glory.  Maybe you’ve got some ideas for that as well. 

A.  we recommend fruits that are less than 6# each for vertical growing.  We grow indeterminate tomatoes and eggplant vertically, guiding them up baling twine strings that are fastened to strong wire strung between T-Frames.  Cucumbers are ideal for growing vertically, as well as any of the small indeterminate squashes. 

Any of the aforementioned plants need to be pruned, in order to have success growing them vertically.  You can expect to increase your yields by 3-4 times in this way.  Detailed instructions are included in several of the Mittleider gardening books and CD’s available at www.growfood.com.  Articles in this FAQ section also deal with vertical growing and pruning.  Look under Tomatoes for several.

Keep your fruits picked as they ripen, to avoid excess weight on the vines, which can sometimes drag the vines down if too many fruits are allowed to remain.

I’ve been “knocking my head against a wall for 15 years” also, telling people to avoid canal water (or filter it) and manure for the reason you cite, as well as the problems many have with pests and diseases.  Thanks for the testimonial.

Remembering that “one year’s seeds makes 7 years’ weeds”, I recommend you get a couple of 2-way hoes as shown on the website’s Store pages at www.growfood.com under Tools.   Follow the recommendations for “E & O” (early and often) weeding, and by leaving the aisles completely dry, you will get ahead of the weeds quickly.