Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Garden Goes Vertical

I've been reading a lot about vertical gardening and wanted to implement some of the ideas into my garden. It seems with the shortness on space and the abundance of light, I can probably pull it off. Last summer at the tomato farm we did all of our plants vertical.Organic Tomato Farming was a new challenge for me and if it had not been for the excellent teaching of the ever amazing Jim T, I don't think I would have been able to pull it off. Even then, when I was roaming through the jungle of tomato vines it was amazing. I wish everyone could have been there...but I'll share a lot of what I learned, as well as a few new ventures with our cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes outside of a greenhouse this year.
I really wanted to be able to plant a lot of herbs like oregano and thyme, but knowing how they are ground covering, I didn't know how much I really would be able to do if I didn't do a lot of vertical stuff. You know, as a chef it's very important to have those fresh herbs. It's sick how much I crave the fresh stuff.

I started out with the cucumbers on a single bamboo pole, but didn't feel that it was strong or stable enough. As I didn't want to invest too much in a structure, the bamboo was economically the best choice. I also didn't want to use plastic fasteners, as it would make composting a lot more difficult when it came time to break down the plants at the end of the season.

What I came up with was tying two bamboo rods together and then tying the garden twine taunt between the poles, and attaching all it to the stable fence running up the West side of my garden. The double thickness has been just right. The cucumber vines are now about 3 feet tall, and completely off the ground. It promotes better circulation, and allows me to see the development of the veggies. Though we haven't had any yet, I think we're getting close.

Now on to the tomatoes. These are Early Girls. I like how they climb as opposed to the "bush" varieties of tomatoes.

The tomatoes are done in a similar tying manner. Once the plant is about 2 feet tall, it is tied to a set of poles that is also tied tightly with twine. I trim the bottom leaves off so it is not only easy to see the soil under the plants, but also keep one very strong vine for tomato production.

One main vine is focused in an upward climb on the pole and all other "sucker" vines are removed. I'll continue to take pictures as this adventure unfolds. I was just so excited to share our success this far. Oh...and thanks again to Hometown Seeds for the amazing Survival Seeds! Everything has not only sprouted, but grown! I am very happy with what we've seen so far with the seeds they sent us...and love that I will never have to purchase seeds again, thanks to the open pollinating seeds that will allow you to collect seeds from the plants and replant the following season. I'm new to that one, but I'm excited to get to that point. The spinach has started bolting due to the heat, so I'm going to get to try that pretty soon if all goes well. At any rate my dears, I am loving this new gardening adventure. Isn't life amazing?

That's all I have to say about that.


Mama Peck said...

I will be following your garden adventures with great interest. We've only lived in AZ for a couple of years and have had ZERO luck growing anything but herbs so far. Its a whole new world here. I know people keep assuring us it can be done but its a learning curve for sure. Have to say, I miss my big Utah garden!

Chef Tess said...

Mama Peck, one of the best things I have going for me is that my dad is a master gardener in AZ and UT, so I can bend his ear if I have any problems. I'd suggest looking at the ASU extension service ( It's a great resource. I have been reading like crazy and trying to get a lot of information in this brain of mine for what to do with this horrible Arizona clay. Good luck to you...and I promise to keep posting new and exciting things here in my little garden.

mlebagley said...

I LOVE vertical gardening! We are like the same soul (maybe even soul sisters?)in two different bodies... I can't wait until you come up and visit and can see my garden. It will remind you a lot of what you have at your house :)

mlebagley said...

that picure of face running through the tomatoes...I don't know why, but it makes me think REDRUM, REDRUM, REDRUM. It totally looks like a scene from a horror movie...