by Jennifer Poindexter
Do you want to keep your garden tidy and plants healthy by supporting certain vegetables but you aren’t sure where to start?
There are multiple methods you can use to support your vegetables. There are also many reasons to consider adding supports to certain plants.
If you’re interested in learning more, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through reasons you should consider supporting certain plants in your garden, specific plants that benefit from receiving support, and methods to support your vegetables while growing your garden.
Here’s what you should know when considering adding support to some vegetables when growing a garden:
Benefits of Supporting Your Vegetables
You might be wondering why some gardeners provide support for their plants and encourage them to grow vertically. There are a few basic reasons.
The first reason is it keeps the garden cleaner. Some vegetables naturally sprawl out. This can cause problems if you don’t have a large growing area.
They can sprawl into other vegetable’s growing space which becomes a tangled mess and can be a great way for moisture to become trapped in those areas.
This could lead to fungal issues and destroy multiple crops because the sprawling vegetable wasn’t contained.
The second reason many gardeners provide support to their crops is to protect the vegetable. When certain vegetables are left unsupported, they sit on moist soil.
This is a problem because moisture can cause the fruit of the plant to rot. Therefore, destroying part or all of your harvest.
Whether you’d like to keep a tidier garden or you’re concerned about the survival of your harvest, providing support to sprawling vegetables could be a great way to deter both of these issues.
Vegetables Which Benefit from Support During the Growing Process
There are a few common vegetables, should you choose to grow them, that could benefit from being supported.
The first options are tomato and tomatillo plants. These plants grow nicely up a stake when it’s offered. If not, the plants will run all over the ground, and the fruit will rot easily.
Cucumbers are another plant which will vine and take over your garden if not provided a method for healthy containment.
By providing support to these vegetables, you could protect your harvest, avoid these plants from inviting disease into your garden, or suffocating neighboring plants.
Methods to Supporting Your Vegetables
Now that you know why you should consider supporting vegetables and which vegetables could benefit from added support, you must understand your options.
Here are a few ways you can provide support to sprawling plants:
1. Wire Cages
One of the most common methods to support vegetables is to buy or build wire cages. You can purchase wire tomato cages at most big box or garden supply stores.
These are good options for smaller plants. If you’re growing indeterminate tomato plants or larger crops, such as small varieties of pumpkins, you might do better to construct your own.
Heavier crops tend to bend store-bought cages, in my experience. Instead, buy chicken wire or inexpensive wire fencing and shape the material into a cylinder.
Place it around the plant and secure it with wire or zip ties. Train the plant to grow up the cage for desired support.
2. Bamboo or Wooden Pole Teepees
Teepees are a great option for heavier plants as well as beans. If you want teepees that will last, purchase bamboo sticks to construct this type of structure.
If you’re working on a budget, you can use wooden limbs to construct a teepee. Realize, they’ll rot in future years, but your budget could be different by then or you could have an abundance of trees nearby that will allow you to utilize limbs that you prune from them each year.
Which method you choose is up to you. However, this is a wonderful method to not only support certain vegetables but to also make for easier picking when it’s time to harvest.
3. Lean-To Supports
Lean-to supports are another one of my favorite options because it’s easy and inexpensive to construct. Plus, it makes picking a ton easier.
This style of support usually has a t-post at each end of the row. Between the posts is an angled piece of wire fencing which allows the plants to grow up at an angle.
I typically use lean-to supports for crops such as cucumbers. You can use this style of support for beans, peas, and tomatillos as well.
If you use sturdier materials, such as cattle panels, you could even use this support technique for heavier plants such as small pumpkins or gourds.
4. Individual Stakes
In my area, you can purchase bundles of tobacco sticks for very little money. This is what most gardeners use because they’re inexpensive and last forever.
Individual stakes are a great way to stake tomatoes. Place the stake behind the tomato and as it grows taller, use bailing twine or wire to tie the tomato to the stake.
As the plant gets heavier, the stake provides support which keeps it growing upright. This keeps your garden cleaner, makes weeding between plants much easier, and also keeps your tomatoes off the ground to avoid rot.
5. Other Vegetables
Did you know you can plant your garden in such a way that certain vegetables can serve as stakes? If you’ve ever heard of the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans) then you know this is true.
The idea is to plant corn, squash, and beans together. The corn serves as a stake for the beans to run upward.
This keeps your harvest off the ground, makes for easier picking during harvest, and requires no additional materials on your part.
6. Plastic Netting
In our earliest years of gardening, we used practically anything we had on hand to keep our garden flourishing in a neat manner.
One thing we used to support our green beans was plastic netting. Some people use it as a mesh fence around their entire garden. It’s typically the color green and can be found with the fencing materials at big box stores.
We purchased a few rolls and attached them to poles at the end of each row. From there, we trained our green beans to grow up through the netting.
This kept our garden area clean and our harvest bountiful as the green beans took to this support. The only issue is you may need to stack two rolls on top of each other as the beans should grow taller than the fencing.
Plus, this isn’t a great method for heavier crops. Be mindful when to apply this method of support to avoid a negative gardening experience.
7. Wire Archway
This is one of the prettiest support methods we’ve ever used. At our previous home, we turned our entire backyard into a gardening oasis.
When heading towards the gate, I placed two raised beds on either side of the pathway and a wire arch overhead.
From there, I planted a running variety of green beans on either side of the arch in the raised beds. The beans grew up the arch.
It was a gorgeous site and fun to walk under. However, it kept our green beans tidy, protected, and made for extremely easy harvesting.
You can create a wire archway using inexpensive livestock fencing. It’s important that it’s pliable to form the arch.
8. Florida Weave
Our next method of support is a great option if you’re growing a lot of one crop. For years, my husband planted rows and rows of tomatoes.
It was a ton of work and extremely important that we kept the plants off the ground or our garden area would quickly become an unorganized mess and a perfect breeding ground for fungal issues.
Therefore, we would place tobacco sticks at either end of a row and in equal intervals going down the row.
Then we would walk down the aisle with a roll of bailing twine and zig zag the twine between stakes. For instance, we’d tie the twine around the end stake.
From there, we’d walk in front of the tomatoes until we got to the next stake. Then we’d go behind the tomatoes and continue the process until we got to the end of the row.
Then we’d make a circle around that stake, come back down the row, and distribute the twine in the opposite direction.
Basically, it sandwiches the tomato plants between multiple levels of twine. You do this each week, as the tomatoes grow.
Start a little higher on the end stake every time you start the process, and your tomato plants should stay off the ground.
This is not only easy to accomplish, but it’s also very cost-effective as well.
Our final option is great for any variety of crops. You can buy lattice material to create a trellis or buy a premade trellis.
Place the frame wherever it’s needed and allow the plants to grow up the structure. Depending upon the shape, you could place tomatoes inside a square trellis for support and plant beans around the outside.
This way, one structure supports two plants. If you’d like to use a piece of vertical lattice, make it the length of your row, and it would be a great way to support an entire row of crops.
Look at the material, decide on the shape of the trellis you desire, and create a frame that works for your gardening needs.
You now have multiple ways to provide support to the vegetables which need it in your garden. You also should understand why this is a benefit to most gardeners and which plants could use this type of support.
Now, pick the method you think would work best for your gardening set-up and budget. Then try your hand at growing vegetables with a little added support. It might make all the difference in your harvest this year.