After taking the smart decision not to allow small space to deter you from growing your favorite vegetables, the next question to resolve boils down to what vegetables grow well on vertical gardens? This article contains a list of the best vegetables for vertical gardening.
Selecting the right vegetable is a critical aspect of vertical gardening because not all vegetables can grow upwards. To optimize garden yield and ensure that all the time and effort invested in creating a vertical garden doesn’t end in frustration, you need to go that extra mile to getting and cultivating only the best vegetables for vertical gardening.
Bearing that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the vegetables with exceptional growth patterns on trellises and other vertical garden support systems.
Best Vegetables for Vertical Gardening
The list below, though not exhaustive, are vegetables you can expect to perform well on a well-constructed trellis or your preferred support system.
Peas (Garden, snow, and snap peas)
All three types of peas would grow well vertically even with a simple but strong support system such as a twin trellis or a basic stake draped with netting.
The basic morphology of peas makes them perfect veggies for vertical gardening. The tendrils, besides being delicate, are tiny and easily vine vertically no matter the support system in use. Keep in mind though that the matured vines tend to be heavy so the support system must be sturdy.
These seasonal crops (best grown in spring and fall), don’t require much effort because they are prolific growers.
Poles beans, also known as green beans, are arguably the most popular vertical garden veggies.
The fast-growing summer vegetables are easy to grow, rapidly covering their support system. Trellises, nettings, and tepees are all perfect for supporting the upward growth of peas without needing extra help. And once the vines start producing the beans, you can simply harvest them without stooping or bending.
Though pole beans take longer than other varieties of beans (bush beans for instance) to grow to maturity, their harvest window is longer and many beans experts seem to agree they have a better flavor.
Also known as indeterminate tomatoes, they are famous for not being natural climbers. You’d have to train them to grow upwards.
Some folks think it is not necessary to trellis tomatoes or provide some sort of support system since growing upwards independently is not natural to them. But doing this but is critical in limiting plant diseases such as early blight.
Clamping or securing them, using vines or special tomato clips you can buy, to the support system is the best way to do it. Cages, poles, and trellises are great for supporting the upward growth of this tomato variety.
Determinate tomatoes (Bush tomatoes)
Most gardeners grow these types of tomatoes in cages. Trellises are great for keeping the plant upright. It is best to grow them upright to prevent diseases and heavy winds from breaking the stems. Besides, the tomato fruits can also break the stem.
They would require frequent attention because the young branches bend easily. However, winding them through the trellises might be all that is required at the initiative stage. Later though, you might have to use plant clips or vines to secure them because aged stems can break easily.
Tip: To maximum yield, carefully prune your tomatoes to form a single vine.
If left to roam freely, summer squash like zucchini, butternut squash, loofah, sugar pie pumpkin, etc., would simply take over growing space in the garden depriving other plants of valuable nutrients.
The recommended support for them is trellises and fences. You can even let grow up nearby trees.
To be clear, not all summer squash are easy to trellis or trained to grow upright. But since they are twiners, weaving them around the support and securing them with twines is the best course of action.
Tip: Install hammocks beneath the squash so the weight of the fruits won’t snap the vines.
Winter squash, Honey Nut Butternut, and Winter Acorn can be grown easily in a vertical garden. A simple trellis support without hammock support is enough since the fruits are not big or heavy enough to break the vines.
Conversely, other varieties such as spaghetti squash or delicata squash would definitely need hammocks to prevent the fruits snapping the vines.
Veteran vegetable gardeners know for a fact that one way to ensure healthy and uniformly green cucumbers is to grow them vertically. That is one reason the vining varieties, as opposed to the bush varieties, are better for small gardens.
That said, you can use tomato cages to grow the bush varieties. As for the vining cucumbers, your standard trellis would work just fine.
These veggies are especially vulnerable to a host of diseases and pests so keeping them off the ground mitigates those risks. For better results, consider pruning your cucumber plants into a single stem. You could also prune off all wayward branches.
Given the size of watermelons, you wouldn’t think they are prime veggies for vertical gardening. But you can expect exceptional harvest by simply growing varieties like Torpedo, Queen Anne’s, Golden midget, golden Jenny, Eden’s Gem, and Chafentais. These weigh just a few pounds.
Strong, heavy-duty trellises, arches, or tepees are the best support system. You’d have to train them to climb the support by weaving the vines through the support though.
Like squash, the use of hammocks is advised. A popular and simple choice is the pantyhose hammock which is simply a sling made from lengths of pantyhose. Simply position the fruit on the pantyhose and secure the ends to the trellis or support. The sling effectively supports the fruit’s weight.
With their rather long vines, it seems set in stone that vertical is the best way to grow all gourd varieties. With some of the vines reaching 30 feet or more, they can quickly take up all the garden space choking other plants if grown on the ground.
With such long vines, the support system has to be extensive. Though you can use trellis support, arches are better because the height can be conveniently adjusted upwards and the vines can be trained to grow down the other side of the arch.
We suppose lots of folks would be surprised that a plant famous in the beer-making process made this list of the best vegetables for vertical gardening. It usually comes as news to people that they have several uses outside beer making.
Late spring hops are deliciously edible. If you’ve ever eaten asparagus, then you have an idea how they taste. Hops are tastier though. If you want to try some (they can be eaten raw by the way), you’d have to grow yours or scavenge for them in the wild because they are not sold in stores.
Like gourds, the vines are long. 15 feet of the vine is not uncommon. So to get the best from growing them upwards, you’ll need an extensive trellis or a standard arch.
Popular Types of Trellises for Vertical Vegetable Gardens
Trellises for growing vegetables upwards come in various forms and sizes. You can easily design and construct them using items like stakes, garden nettings and twines, bamboo posts, etc. if you are handy with tools. They can also be bought in stores that specialize in garden equipment offline or online.
Below are 4 of the most common types to use in vertical vegetable gardening:
Arches – These are garden supports built in the form of an arch. A typical arch is made with metal material and is perfect for supporting heavy crops like buying squash, melons, squash, and cucumbers.
Tepees – Easy to build, typical structures are made from bamboos with the lower part of the poles buried about 10 inches into the ground. Tepees are great for veggies like peas and pole beans.
Mesh trellises – Some of the best mesh trellises are made with wire mesh panels. Mesh trellises reinforced with concrete and tied to wooden stakes can support the combined weight of gourds and all their fruits. All types of wire mesh trellises conveniently support the growth of plants like peas, beans, and cucumbers.
A-frame trellises – The name is a pointer to the shape of this type of trellis. A typical one comprises sawed lumber or beams with a couple of flat sides that meet at the top to form an A-shaped structure. They are very sturdy, but this is dependent on the type of material used in constructing them. Vegetables like squash, cucumbers, melons, beans, and peas do well on them.
Vertical Vegetable Support Tips & Tricks
– When choosing the best support or trellis to grow your vegetables, you are expected to consider the factors such as the amount of wind and sunlight the plants would be exposed to, the size of the veggies, and the maintenance routine.
– Generally, the ideal length of time vegetables should be exposed to sunshine is between 6 – 8 hours. To get the most from sunlight, locate the support to where it catches the midday sun the most
– If you are handy with tools, you could easily design and construct a customized support system for your vegetables using everyday items like PVC pipes, big soda bottles, and gutters. The results might surprise you too.
– A super easy DIY procedure to make a vertical garden look more attractive is to secure a trellis panel to a wall. Apart from veggies, it can equally support pots planted with flowers and herbs.
– Ensure that the trellis support is anchored deep into the ground to prevent it from toppling over especially when growing heavier plants.
– If you are converting wooden pallets into vertical planters, make sure they are safe to recycle for this purpose. Searching for the pallet stamp is the best way to determine if you can go ahead and recycle the pallet.
The presence of the letters EPAL, combined with DB or GT on the pallet stamp shows that the wood is non-toxic to plants. Also, an IPPC logo on the pallet stamp is another indicator that the wood is safe for recycling in your garden.
Other Vertical Gardening Resources: