Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Veggies in Less Space: The Cucumber Trellis

Every year, DH and I budget for a garden improvement or two.  In this way, our vegetable production space has grown from a small, unfenced patch that we had nine years ago to a large fenced space, supported by a container garden and five ancillary spaces and raised beds.

Last year was kind of a low-budget, high DIY year in which we nearly doubled the primary garden space, a task that involved a lot of sod cutting.  However, we did buy a couple of the cucumber trellises that you see above.  Ours are from Gardener's Supply, but you could fairly easily make your own; they are basically a trellis in front supported by legs in the bag and held in the ground with garden staples (not included).  It would be a pretty easy project, but we were in the throes of cutting so much sod that it seemed like a good investment.

And it has been.  The cucumber trellis (it also works well for peas, beans, and other vining veggies) allows the cucumber vines to grow up the front, keeping the majority of the fruit off the ground, safe from critters and decomposition.  It also allows the fruit to hang down straight, which means cucumbers are easier to fit in pickle jars.  Because the vines are held up off the ground with good air circulation, they are less likely to contract molds that will kill the plant, and if they do, they do a better job of fighting it off. 

It is hard to quantify vegetable production year to year, but I had cucumbers for about a month longer than I usually do, and I believe I was typically harvesting more at a time.  A valuable bonus is that the vines crawling up the trellis create a shaded spot underneath (if you have positioned the trellis correctly), so you can grow lettuces and cool season small crops underneath even in the hot weather, further increasing your yeild. 

I left the trellises out in the garden all winter, and they weathered beautifully.  At about $60 for two (including shipping), depending on your love of cucumbers and pickles, I estimate these could pay for themselves in two or three years.
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