April 20, 2009

Are you Jealous of this Trellis?

Growing vertically and mastering the use of space in a small urban plot, seem to me to be a sign of someone who knows what they're doing in a community garden.

I have long viewed myself as more of a newbie, lacking the skills and expertise to try anything as ambitious as a trellis, let alone planting things near each other in a way that one plant can help the other.

I guess that's not entirely true. I've planted basil and marigold with tomatoes and those are supposed to help each other, and my arugula always seems to attract flea beetles which I think helps keep them away from my eggplant, but this plan, is far more ambitious.

Let me start at the beginning:

Last year I grew cucumbers and I really liked it. They attracted a lot of cucumber beetles though and took up a lot of space. The cucumbers also tended to hide underneath the leaves such that I could miss a cuke one day and show up a day later to find a baseball-bat-sized cucumber the next. I had heard, and seen others growing them UP and wanted to try it. In my internet searching I came across this cool design for a cucumber trellis that basically allows the cucumber vines to climb upward, but also leaves some room behind for lettuce which likes cooler temperatures.

I didn't really think I could build something like this myself. I'm easily intimidated by things like this. Luckily, I am fortunate enough have an in with Captain Awesome. He is pretty handy and agreed to build me a trellis.

So this Saturday ( a few hours after the seedling adventure) we headed out to Home Depot to get the supplies and make my garden dream a reality. We had a general sense of the items we needed and after I woke up from my "overwhelmed-by-the-choices-trance" in the nail aisle, we got it together enough to get our stuff and leave.

We bought 3 2x4s, some long nails, vinyl coated chicken wire, and a bag of plastic zip ties. Captain Awesome already had all the tools so we didn't need to get any of those. He built the whole thing right in the bed of his truck, with no power, or anything.

So now the trellis is all set up in all it's glory in my garden plot. I went ahead and used this opportunity to begin to figure out the layout for the garden this year. I dug up the black-eyed susan and moved it closer to the other perennials (and gave 75% of it to another gardener for her yard ) and moved the bee balm closer too. Now I've got only one area, by the sink, for flowers. I think this will work better and give me more room for veggies in the rest of the plot.

I've asked a few other gardeners if they think the stuff I plan to grow behind the trellis will work or get too shaded. Honestly, I'm too excited about this idea to even hear it when a few of them have said "maybe" or "I dunno." In this spirit, I went ahead and planted some lettuce, arugula and cilantro seeds behind the trellis. Sure, it might be too early, but I'm feeling bold and experimental at the moment.

I know that I can be very insecure about my gardening abilities, but at the core, I'm an optimist and a believer in my own ability to make things happen. Also, I do know SOME things. I haven't planted the cucumbers yet and I know I won't do that for at least another month.

I know I'm dealing with the natural world here and wanting something to work may not make it happen, but for now, I'll keep hope alive!


Eveland said...

Ahh the possibilities of an empty plot... it looks great. I been reading the gardener's bible and what he says is to plant trellis and tomatoes in the north side so it doesn't shade anything else...

Best of luck and looking forward to read your 2009 adventures.

Claire said...

Love that last picture. Your garden looks HUGE compared to our tiny (6'x6') garden in our backyard! I AM jealous of that trellis!

Mia said...

Lookin' good!

Sally said...

I'm envious of your trellis. I'm totally hopeless when it comes to building supports. I don't think it's too early to plant lettuce and arugula. And your chicken wire won't shade out your plants or others' so much, I don't think.

If the cucumbers fail (and we're optimistic so they won't), you can alway try a late summer crop of peas.

Anonymous said...

Congratulation on your beautiful trellis. I am so happy for you! Collaboration-is what community gardening is all about.

Swinton Ave Community Gardener

Joan Anne said...

You have a huge garden. You can plant so many seed on that.

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