Double your growing space with a trellis!

So you want to grow a pumpkin or melon vine, but you’re worried about the room they take up? Or maybe you just want to get the most out of your growing space?

Here’s the perfect solution! Did you know that a trellis can literally double your garden space?

Not only can you can train plants like peas and beans up them- they’re also great for growing tomatoes, eggplant, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers!

Snowpeas thriving on a home-made tomato tower

Growing tomatoes, eggplant , cucumbers and capsicum vertically has been done in greenhouses across the world for a long time, but I first came across this technique in Eliot Coleman’s books. He (and many others) grow these plants vertically using a frame and a single vertical string. You manually attach the plant to the string, or twist it around the string as it grows. I knocked together a quick trellis for my front garden last week ready for spring and summer harvests.

Easy 1 hour trellis solution using Coleman’s string method

Another valuable resource is Mel Bartholomew’s  “Square Foot Gardening“. Mel recommends growing all the above (as well as melons and pumpkins) vertically using special nylon mesh (capable of holding 60+ kilos of produce). While I have so far been unable to source the nylon mesh in Australia, I’ve found that standard 100mm x 100mm square mesh from fencing suppliers works just as well.

Now you can grow that dream pumpkin only using 50cm of ground (or just 12cm for cucumbers!) In fact, one 2.4 metre long trellis could grow 2 cucumbers, 1 pumpkin, 1 melon, 4 tomato vines and 9 beans. That’s HEAPS of food!

Fruit trees are also great to grow on trellises. This technique is called espaliering and can be used for great decorative effect as well as saving space. Here are some pictures of a fruit tree trellis I’ve recently built for a client. The trellis can accommodate 8 trees in a space that could normally only handle 2-3!

Espaliered fruit tree on trellis wire

Just add your favourite fruit trees, veggies, and climbing flowers!

The start of a fruit orchard avenue

For more information about vertical gardening, you won’t go wrong if you grab a copy of Mel Bartholomew’s  “All New Square Foot Gardening“.  And for some instant inspiration, here’s a video showing techniques of square foot gardening and vertical growing in action. You can also buy my trellis kit or get one custom built for you- call me for a chat. Happy growing!


About Healthy Harvest Kitchen Gardens

Healthy Harvest provides a permaculture-based kitchen garden service for existing food growers and people who are inspired to grow food. We sell fresh chemical-free seedlings, seeds and seasonal produce. We also provide educational workshops, courses, gardening consultations and services. We can help with new vegetable garden designs, maintenance of established gardens, or converting and improving existing gardens ready for growing food. Please see our website for more information: Check out our blog at for news and interesting bits and pieces.

Posted on September 26, 2011, in Gardening techniques, Seed raising, Seedlings. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Thoughts, comments or questions?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: