Saturday, April 26, 2014

V Is For Vining Plants & Vertical Gardening

At some stage in my gardening adventure, I'm going to invest time and resources to create suitable vertical structures for my vegetables and fruit to vine over.

Here are some of the ways I'm planning to create the vertical gardens:
  1. Build cages for my berries, tomatoes, pumpkins and other types of vining plants we grow over. I don't have enough cages for all my crops, and some of them are still being allowed to just run over the mulched beds. It's not ideal, as it makes it difficult to see harvests that are hidden under the bushes when they are ready. It also makes them vulnerable to bugs. 
  2. Build an arbour for the grape vines- I have two grape vines and they are still young enough to be OK being staked to a long stick, but pretty soon they'll need more. I've already collected the reclaimed material I need for the arbour. We just need to put aside time to build it. After I've read up on the Internet and watched videos on YouTube one more time to get the instructions clear in my head :)
  3. Use existing vertical infrastructures, such as boundary fences and water towers to create permanent vertical gardens. I'm not sure how viable the water tower plan will be though. We have two main  towers,  installed during the apartheid years when government would not provide municipal services like water, electricity and waste disposal in villages.  My parents installed the first towers in the early 70s and today, we still have the associated boreholes as our secondary water supply used mostly for the gardens and SIL's chickens. The towers do their job, but they are ugly!! They irritated one of my nieces so much she tried to paint them maybe two years ago. She didn't get to finish the job though. She was 12 then and that paint was going to be used for something else! I think plants will provide a better camouflage, soften them a bit, help them blend into the environment.
  4. Use tires to create container towers for vining plants to cascade over. I already have a large number of used tires that we use as containers in inhospitable areas of the garden. They've proven to be one of the easiest methods to cover unsightly yard areas. What you can do is paint your tires to fit your garden's colour scheme, arrange them in a pattern that suits you, creating towers. Fill the towers with potting soil (I used a combination of newspapers, kitchen waste, soil and compost), then plant them up. 
  5. Stake plants using tree branches; an old method that still works today.  The only challenge are finding branches that are strong enough to create stakes and to into the soil in such a way that won't topple over and can withstand strong winds.

We're repurposing material I have/I can get for free to do most of the work. For example, two of my cages are made of very old bed frames... the kind of beds that used to have springs...and tree branches.And as I mentioned above, tires make very good towers for vines to cascade over.


  1. Hi Damara .. such a sensible idea - and one we're taking on board to green up our towns and homes .. but if possible this idea would be better ... love the idea of making everything work together .. cheers Hilary

  2. My parents had cages for their tomatoes and green beans. I didn't think there was another way to grow them--that or I just took for granted how good they were at what they did.

    True Heroes from A to Z

    1. I was very suprised by the amount of gardening information I absorbed from my grandfather and father. My grandfather was very old by the time I came along (born 1889) and he was retired by then, spent hours on end in the garden. And I sorta noticed what he was doing, but like you, I took it for granted that's what he did. It was only later when I started my own gardens that i realised I was doing some of what he did.

  3. What a neat idea for re-using the tires. I hadn't thought of that.

    Vines are my favourite (along with spring bulbs). I'm not sure why, there's just something about them that appeals to me. Sweet peas, morning glories, beans. nasturtiums ... clematis, roses, grapes, kiwi, passionflowers (not that those grow in Canada) ... I like them all.

    My dad and I built a pergola for the grapevine in his garden a couple of years ago. We managed to get some -- well, I don't know what they're called, actually, but they're basically metal spikes with a collar on top to put wood into. You pound the spike into the ground, then put the wood inside, and tighten the bolts, and voila -- uprights! Without needing a post-hold digger or concrete. Since we got them for free from a friend who was moving, it was very thrifty -- but I thought they worked so well they'd be worth buying. Depends on how keen you are on post-hole digging.

    The pergola worked very well. It's only taken two seasons for the grapevine to cover it.

    1. Ooh! That whatchamacallit you describe sounds very handy. I'll ask one of my nephews to find out more about it. I was going to go with concrete, but it would be great if I didn't have to. It will depend on cost factors though. Thank you.