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Ideas for Trellis Gardening

 
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I've long used cattle panels in my garden beds to trellis beans, cukes, tomatoes, etc., but last year I started trying to think of ways to expand my food growing areas outside of the garden. I've made a start with trellises on the front porch. So far, I've learned:

Advantages:
- shade
- aesthetics
- food production in unusual places

Disadvantages:
- doesn't get full sun
- being under the roof eaves, sometimes doesn't get full benefit of rain

Even with the disadvantages, I've become enthusiastic enough that I'd like to expand on this even more.

I did my first one last year.

Trellis growing green beans to shade the front porch from the hot afternoon sun.

Last year I grew cherry tomatoes on it. In fact, I have some volunteer tomatoes growing with the green beans. I learned that the bed dried out quickly, so in addition to thick mulch, I added an olla. That seems to help.

This year, I added more. My husband finished rebuilding the front porch this year and added trellises on either side of the porch steps.

One of two containers with cherry tomatoes growing.

I find that containers typically dry out quickly in our heat, so these are wicking pots - another experiment!

I'd really be interested in seeing how others are using trellises, along with your experiences and any tips you have to offer.
 
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My most successful trellis is the steel cable running across the western wall of my home.
I've trained grapevine down itin a bid to shield the brick from the afternoon sun.
It really seems to work!
Unfortunately the vine is a self sown daughter of a variety that did not survive, and tgis daughter produces no usable fruit.
I would like to try more of this along the front of the porch,  using better variety of grape or a different fruit.
It will have to be in containers,  my wife has reclaimed the porch front bed for inedible flowers...
At one point I had Italian Tree tomatoes growing on,twine, 12 foot up the front on the porch.
They needed so days to in the ground,, I only ever got green tomatoes.
Winter sowing in subirrigated containers might fix that.

If I lived further south I would try Seminole pumpkins.
They evidently love to climb.

 
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I built a geodesic dome this spring that will ultimately be used as a trellis for hardy kiwi vines, but this year it's being used to support a couple of dwarf butternut squash that I impulse bought at the hardware store.  They're putting on a few feet each week, and have grown probably 3 feet since this photo was taken last weekend.  Hoping for shade in the dome in the next month.

 
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Trellising to shade one's house has pros and cons so I'll start there:

1. some traditional perennials used for this grow *fast* - I have Wisteria growing up a back deck and a grape vine beside my front porch and scheduling time for serious hair cuts is a thing!
A) The Wisteria is trying to get into the bedroom through the sliding door, but I want the planet to rotate a little further before chopping it back as the area still gets late afternoon sun. The advantage is I can get "weed-free" mulch if I chop it with a little forethought and I found a dried bucket of it I'd abandoned in the well-shed and used it two days ago to hill a container of potatoes.
B) The grape vine would have taken over the porch steps and the barrel of veg on the porch if I hadn't already chopped it back several times. Some years it produces well, others not, but something less aggressive in that spot would have been a better choice!

2. there is a place in permaculture for annuals!
A) It's amazing how bushy and tall an indeterminate mini tomato can grow. It grows during the heat when you most want the shade. When it's right beside the front door, it's fun seeing the guilty looks on people's faces when you open the door and you can tell they've just eaten a tomato. Of course, I reassure them that's exactly why they're there - food for guests!
B) I've planted Scarlet Runner Beans for both shade and privacy. The flowers are beautiful and attract the hummingbirds, picked small, the beans are yummy fresh and freeze well, allowed to go to seed, the beans are a bit hard to get dry in my climate, but they make a great bean dip. I actually had a neighbor comment once that he'd spent thousands of dollars on a privacy fence, and I'd got privacy exactly where I needed it with less than $100 of wood and post holders, a handful of beans from my Dad, and I got to eat my privacy!

3. often, accomplishing this can only be done with raised pots or planters. Here I'd suggest that the problem is the solution... the planter on my porch is growing tomatoes up against the wall and, yes, with our current heat, it dries out *really* fast. However, it's the closest planter to the kitchen. Yesterday it got the water from hard-boiling eggs, the day before it got water from washing the lettuce etc. Having a place that's close so kitchen water gets a second life is good for my soul! (That said, putting a bunch of punky wood in the bottom of my planters has helped them cope with the crazy hot weather - even if things wilted, they recovered quickly when the sun went off them. One often doesn't *want* to hold water near the foundation of the house, so plants there may need help with moisture, but if you think of bits of water you can save specifically for them - waiting for the water to get hot, a bucket of shower water, etc - you can get a shaded house in the summer and actually "conserve" water.
 
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Laurel Jones wrote:I built a geodesic dome this spring that will ultimately be used as a trellis for hardy kiwi vines, but this year it's being used to support a couple of dwarf butternut squash that I impulse bought at the hardware store.  They're putting on a few feet each week, and have grown probably 3 feet since this photo was taken last weekend.  Hoping for shade in the dome in the next month.



Oooh is that the Hubs Geodesic Dome kit?  What are your thoughts so far?  They look really fun!
 
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I've been experimenting with using arched garden supports from one raised bed's edge to another, and then tying jute string to make a net between them. It's working well for my cucumbers, and creates an arch over my pathways, saving space in the garden bed itself. It's not working as well for my kabocha, they don't seem to like to climb so much, more of a sprawling species.

I really like the arch idea for whatever possible though, it makes finding the harvest ready products much easier.

Sorry, I don't have any pics right now, I haven't been able to get out into my garden much these past few weeks.
 
Laurel Jones
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George Yacus wrote:

Laurel Jones wrote:I built a geodesic dome this spring that will ultimately be used as a trellis for hardy kiwi vines, but this year it's being used to support a couple of dwarf butternut squash that I impulse bought at the hardware store.  They're putting on a few feet each week, and have grown probably 3 feet since this photo was taken last weekend.  Hoping for shade in the dome in the next month.



Oooh is that the Hubs Geodesic Dome kit?  What are your thoughts so far?  They look really fun!



It is!  I obsessed over getting one for a while and then finally just bit the bullet.  I was really wanting a dome that would support a hammock, but the design of these hubs just isn't conducive to any real weight being put on them, unfortunately.  I couldn't find any other options that were less than $600 for a dome the size that I wanted, so I'll survive without a hammock I guess.  I optimized my stick lengths for 8' lumber, ended up with only 1/4" or so of waste.  I was able to get 1x2s for around $70, then I just cut, painted, and attached the ends.  Assembling the dome took me and one other person under 45 minutes including tightening all of the plates and everything.  I think it will be a fine trellis.  The 2v style didn't seem conducive to putting a door in, but with my panel sizes it isn't an issue just to climb in and out of the holes.  
Stick lengths
1295 mm - 50.98”
1135 mm - 44.69”
 
George Yacus
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Laurel wrote: I optimized my stick lengths for 8' lumber, ended up with only 1/4" or so of waste.



That's pretty keen.  As a side note, I've always wondered if later on down the line, the dome struts could be reinforced with even larger pieces of dimensional lumber and then whether the plastic/metal hubs and screws could be replaced one by one with some kind of homebrew wooden hub system made out of a log end.  Then the strut connector hardware (the expensive and elegant pieces of the puzzle) could be removed and used again and so on.  Such reinforcing and replacing might work for a hammock system.  But I digress!

Leigh Tate wrote:I'd really be interested in seeing how others are using trellises, along with your experiences and any tips you have to offer.



Here's a project I'm super proud of: thornless blackberry arches for my mom and dad to enjoy.  



Started with just a couple vines, and gradually propagated them to make more and more.  Then I relocated them to be on two sides of a path.  They became so unwieldly, falling into the path, that for Mothers Day a couple years back I bought and installed an arch and braided the vines into it.  She loved the arch so much that we bought a couple more (they were on sale, too!)

I don't know if she's ever needed to fertilize them or what have you.  Upkeep-wise, we tend to use free wood chips, like in the Back to Eden movie.  The yields have been fantastic, year after year.

My tip (and this is as someone who is mighty frugal) is that trellises can be made from just about anything, but sometimes the store-bought stuff is worth it.  Just be on the lookout for sales.
 
Laurel Jones
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George Yacus wrote:

Laurel wrote: I optimized my stick lengths for 8' lumber, ended up with only 1/4" or so of waste.



That's pretty keen.  As a side note, I've always wondered if later on down the line, the dome struts could be reinforced with even larger pieces of dimensional lumber and then whether the plastic/metal hubs and screws could be replaced one by one with some kind of homebrew wooden hub system made out of a log end.  Then the strut connector hardware (the expensive and elegant pieces of the puzzle) could be removed and used again and so on.  Such reinforcing and replacing might work for a hammock system.  But I digress!



I have seen (and the Hubs people have shown posts about it on their site as well) where people replace the metal washers with larger plates (I suspect using a hole-saw to cut out rounds of exterior grade plywood would do the trick) and it has increased the strength greatly.  The plastic hubs themselves don't seem all that weak, but the little balls are supported/held into the frames with what seems like drywall screws, added to that, my sticks (which are easy enough to replace) are probably not something I'd trust my weight to.  

There are sturdier options for domes including metal plates that you screw 2x4s into, and realistically using something like a thick wall pipe that's been flattened at the ends and then bent to the correct angle I think would be the most robust and long lasting solution (also, having a rusty dome being covered in vines would be gorgeous), but my husband isn't too keen on geodesic domes anyhow, so an inexpensive solution that was easy to put together (and easy to take down should it fail horribly) was a good proof of concept at the least.
 
George Yacus
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We've been really short on space -- our community garden plots are only about 4' x 8', and we were even sharing that tiny of a space with other families!  Going vertical is truly essential for me to grow vining plants in such a tiny plot.

Here's something we did last year for keyhole-style gardens up against a sturdy fence.  I enjoyed it enough that I decided to do it again just a couple days ago after some surplus garden fencing was abandoned in a garden pathway.  Most of our vining plants are volunteers which came from the community compost bin from last fall's decorations.  I enjoy the simple arch aesthetic.  



The left portion of the picture is what I'm calling our "scaling gardens" and the middle is the "Kindergarden" preschool plot I volunteered with recently.  The right-ish part under the arch is our personal plot.

To make a simple, super cheap arch, take a length of short wire garden fencing, maybe about 10 to 15 feet or so long, maybe 15" width...whatever you can scrounge, really.  Then form it into an arch.  Tie it onto an existing fence using garden wire.  Having some bamboo sticks or something can also provide a little support.  The plants took to it very quickly!



Advantages:
- Very inexpensive (or free!)
- Helps define a walled (or fenced) space with more dimension, making it stand out better
- Helps hide more industrial, boring fences (it could work well on chain-link for instance)

Disadvantages:
- Requires a fence as backdrop
- Not super sturdy on its own
 
Leigh Tate
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Using my hoop house as a trellis is something of an experiment. What I'm hoping for is shade, because our summers are so hot that the raised beds in the hoop house have trouble staying cool and hydrated.

From the outside, the hoop house looks wildly overgrown. In the bed at the bottom of the photo, I have ground nuts and cherry tomatoes growing. Between the two, they've pretty much covered that entire side of the hoop house.

view from the outside

On the inside, the shade is keeping my strawberries, melons, and malabar spinach happy!

view from the inside

So far, I've only shaded the one side, but next year I'd like to expand this so I can shade both sides of the hoop house.
 
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We have noisy neighbors who are also within eye shot and although the plants won't stop the noise (recreational quad and dirt bike), these hops give us a sense of privacy. They're only 3 years old but getting fuller every year.
In the garden, I had pruned out some prickly ash to start a wattle fence but that was an epic failure. However two years later when I disassembled the failed fence, all the prickly ash had lost their prickles and turned a lovely white. This year they're acting as a pole bean trellis, poked into the ground and tied at points with baling twine.
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I’ve had really great luck this year with the net trellis I have running up the side of my garage.

I’ve got two kinds of pickling cucumbers, acorn squash, butternut squash and pie pumpkins. I’ve grown all of them up this in the past but it must be good vibes from the permies that has them going bananas this year!
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Some plants just need some vertical help.  I make Teepee’s in the garden. Some of them have been around for 20 years. Weighed down with a rock hanging in the middle.
My last year’s Teepee has survived the winter and I planted some Rampicante squash. The weight of the vines and the squash survived yesterday’s microburst with heavy winds.
I use old bed frames for the beans and sweet peas to grow up.
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I saw the cattle panel trellis on YouTube, and had to have one. I loved it so much when I redid a couple of beds I made sure I could add another.  The grapevine is loving it and it looks beautiful.  The chickens got to my peas this winter, and I planted beans very late. Between a gopher problem, and several heat waves what beans survived are just now reaching the top.  It's not lushly covered like I envisioned, but considering I glad to have what I have.
Last summer I was searching for something to use as a tomato cage, because the last of mine bit the dust.  My son enjoys making welding projects, he said he would make me some.  A few days later he brings me 4 ?  My first thought is I should have shown him what a tomato cage looks like.  I didn't want to hurt his feelings, he spent his money and time making them, and all I had to do was paint them.  They are amazing, I love them. Being two sided is an advantage.  If I have waited to long, which I famous for doing, I don't break anything putting the cage in.  I use twine on the open side as needed.  The best part is they're so versatile.  Tomato cage, or trellis. I love them.  He made 4, and one small square one out of one cattle panel which he got half price because some of the rungs were crooked, so 12.00. The pipe was repurposed.  As long as I keep them painted they will probably last longer than me.
I also flipped it. I use the pvc trellis as my garden fence. It works great, and the grapevine grows over the top. I love trellises.
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With all these beautiful trellises, I'm almost embarrassed to show what I had to do. First a disclaimer. I have to keep my tiny garden in "jail" to defend it against the local wildlife, so I built a cage out of chain link dog kennel panels. Then I had to wrap the walls in 1 inch hex wire (most folks call this chicken wire) and cover the gable ends with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. This tries valiantly to keep the rabbits, gophers, birds, and other terrorists out, but still manages to fail somewhat.

Anyway, the upshot is the whole thing becomes a trellis for beans, cukes, tomatoes, melons and squash. This year has been particularly tough with the extreme heat and the two gray squirrels (yeah squirrels in the desert! Must have hitched a ride down from the north country on someone's RV) But the butternut squash grows up the sides and crosses the roof. The tomatoes grow straight through the roof and bear fruit under the shade cloth. Not aesthetically pleasing by any means, but it does work. I have to build little hammocks for the squash and melons to support their weight so the fruit doesn't fall off before ripening.



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Jen Fulkerson
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Don't be embarrassed Joshua, after dealing with a gopher this year I totally get it.  It's smart, and gets the job done. I imagine it pretty from the inside with everything growing up the sides. I like it.
 
Joshua States
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It's more like a jungle inside than anything else. I grow in containers, because the soil here in this part of New River is so rocky and barely fertile. I also tend to overplant! I can't help myself. I have a very difficult time eliminating plants that have started growing just to make room. So I usually end up with a terrible tangle of tomatoes and peppers. In a space that is literally 10 feet square, it gets crowded quickly. Next year i think I'll double the size and spread things out  a bit. The previous version of the cage at a different property was 10x15.
It was still a jungle.....who am I kidding?
 
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Wondering how do you keep the cattle panels down into the ground?  How high is the arch?  How far apart are the ends?  I want to make some arches like this with a longer piece of cattle panel but think it would need supports to hold up the arch. Looking for ideas to make it work and hold up through winter snow.  I like your 2-sided tomato "cages"
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I just did what I saw on YouTube..
I use 1 t post on each side you put it in so the post is in the center of the panel.  The panel naturally pushes against the post and pretty much stays where you put it.  YouTube people used zip ties to secure the panel to the post. I used wire.  It's quite simple.  The panel I used is 16 feet by 50".   My new beds have 3 foot paths between the beds. I think the cement blocks are 8" wide, and I placed the panel about a foot from the edge. So roughly a little over a 6' span. It probably sits about 16" above ground.
The other one is similar dimensions, but only about 6" above ground. I don't know how tall the highest point is, but my son is 6' 4" tall and has no trouble walking under under them.  
I love them.  The cattle panel can be a bit pricey.  The best price I found was at Home Depot for 21.00. They were out for months, so I ended up getting my new one at tractor supply, and it cost me 27.00. We already had a bunch of T posts hanging around, so that part didn't cost me anything.  Even if you have to buy them, they are pretty cheap.  You don't need the tall one. You want to pound it into the ground so it's good and sturdy.  You only need 2 or 3 feet above ground. I think they will Last a long time, and are very strong and surprisingly sturdy.  Incredibly useful, and beautiful.  I plant between the outer edge of the bed and the panel, and the plants naturally climb.  I did worry the wire would get to hot, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  So far I haven't found a down side.  I think the main consideration is what might be shaded once it's covered.
Good luck, happy climbing.
 
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Denise Cares wrote:Wondering how do you keep the cattle panels down into the ground?  



Pearl described how weaker folk like me can get these arches done here.
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:

Denise Cares wrote:Wondering how do you keep the cattle panels down into the ground?  



Pearl described how weaker folk like me can get these arches done here.



I also recommend 2 T posts per side of a panel, after having one decide to do some weird things that made it dance. I get heavy wind, and don't approve of trellises twisting in it.

The panel itself does not stick into the ground, actually I have a couple of mine sitting a few inches off the ground, hooked tight to the T posts, makes it so I can pull grass that is coming up there and put mulch there. I have some intense grass, and when it's on both sides of something, it's nasty to pull. To do that put a couple of boards or bricks between the T posts as you put the panel up, set the panel on them, fasten it well, then pull out the boards or bricks, leaving the gap.

:D
 
Pearl Sutton
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When I put in my arbors:


Same one the other day.


You can see the gaps between the beans where the squash are just not doing well. I planted them in sections so the squash beetles had beans to cross between them. The beetles are being an issue. but also the squash are just not growing well.  


 
Jay Angler
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Serious "Cattle Panel" envy up here on Vancouver Isl. The only place I ever saw them wanted $80 Canadian for one and that was 10 years ago. Island living is expensive, even when the Island in question is larger than 3 Canadian Provinces (PEI, Newfoundland/Labrador, and New Brunswick) and larger than the US States of Hawai'i, VT, NH, MA, and CT, and apparently we're bigger than Belgium and Israel - I could go on, but it won't help.
 
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Jay I would think a heavy gage wire fence would do if you grow peas or beans on it, light stuff would probably be fine.  Not for grapevine or Heavy squash. Might be worth trying. I used t posts and fencing as trellises for years. I didn't arch them, but it seems like you could if you didn't go to high???
 
Jay Angler
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Jay I would think a heavy gage wire fence would do if you grow peas or beans on it, light stuff would probably be fine.  Not for grapevine or Heavy squash. Might be worth trying. I used t posts and fencing as trellises for years. I didn't arch them, but it seems like you could if you didn't go to high???

Straight up is fine and supported every 18" to 2 ft has certainly worked for me if I can get decent gauge 4" square. Smaller, and my hand can't fit through for picking which can be annoying. However, one year I tried to arch it over about a 2 1/2 foot gap to grow beans. It would have been about 6 ft so I could walk under it, and it was quite unsatisfactory apart from the fact that at least I could see the beans. Since then, Hubby bought a machine that can bend tubing. We bent some 1/2" conduit pipe to make a low tunnel (~4 ft) over my strawberry and tomato beds (the former for bird netting, the later for floating row cover). Unfortunately they're time-consuming to make and each 10ft piece of tubing is about $10 here on the Island. If I used 3-4 hoops to support the fence wire, that would likely do the trick. However, that would cost a lot more than the $20-30 cattle panels all you 'Merican permies brag about!
 
Denise Cares
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Thank you. The link you provided was very helpful to see how to arrange T-posts.  I think any height t-post would work even if they are not all the same height as long as I fasten the wire well to the posts?  I want to make a wide arch as the length of heavy wire I have is roughly 35 ft. long X 7 ft. width.  It will be tricky to move and unroll in place in the garden while fastening without getting hurt.  I'm doing this solo.   I also need to figure out a way to brace up the middle of the arch or at 1/3 of the way inside each end so it will hold up in winter/wind.  I'd like to cover with plastic for winter.  Anyone have ideas how that bracing can be simply done and still allow 5 1/2 ft. headspace to walk underneath?  I want to maximize the width to accomodate 2 or 3 rows of growing beds underneath.  Thanks.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Denise Cares wrote:Thank you. The link you provided was very helpful to see how to arrange T-posts.  I think any height t-post would work even if they are not all the same height as long as I fasten the wire well to the posts?  I want to make a wide arch as the length of heavy wire I have is roughly 35 ft. long X 7 ft. width.  It will be tricky to move and unroll in place in the garden while fastening without getting hurt.  I'm doing this solo.   I also need to figure out a way to brace up the middle of the arch or at 1/3 of the way inside each end so it will hold up in winter/wind.  I'd like to cover with plastic for winter.  Anyone have ideas how that bracing can be simply done and still allow 5 1/2 ft. headspace to walk underneath?  I want to maximize the width to accomodate 2 or 3 rows of growing beds underneath.  Thanks.



Denise: If I had wire that size, I'd not bother to arch it, I'd put it up as 7 foot tall by 35 foot long, and call it good. That's much easier and safer to do alone, and just as effective for getting plants up off the ground.  Or two parallel runs of 7 foot high by 17 foot long. Kind of an arch with no roof, and a LOT less structure problems.

I have a couple of horizontal runs (of cattle panel, that's what I can get easily) that are 4 foot tall by 16 feet long, and they work lovely!

:D
 
Laurel Jones
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Jay Angler wrote:Serious "Cattle Panel" envy up here on Vancouver Isl. The only place I ever saw them wanted $80 Canadian for one and that was 10 years ago. Island living is expensive, even when the Island in question is larger than 3 Canadian Provinces (PEI, Newfoundland/Labrador, and New Brunswick) and larger than the US States of Hawai'i, VT, NH, MA, and CT, and apparently we're bigger than Belgium and Israel - I could go on, but it won't help.



I had extremely good success in the Seattle area with concrete reinforcement panels and zip tying them together.  I found that 2 of them zip tied together between 2 raised beds (that were2 feet tall and  4 feet apart).  You'd probably need 3 panels if you wanted to go all the way to the ground and still have room to walk under it when plants are growing.  https://www.homedepot.com/p/Nucor-42-in-x-7-ft-Rebar-737624/206885631

Sorry nothing is growing in these photos.  They were taken when we sold our house and the realtor specifically told me not to plant any veggies before listing.  



 
Laurel Jones
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Laurel Jones wrote:I built a geodesic dome this spring that will ultimately be used as a trellis for hardy kiwi vines, but this year it's being used to support a couple of dwarf butternut squash that I impulse bought at the hardware store.  They're putting on a few feet each week, and have grown probably 3 feet since this photo was taken last weekend.  Hoping for shade in the dome in the next month.



Here's an update on the butternut squash on the dome.  They're already well above my head.

 
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This thread is amazing! I love that there's so many different types of trellises using different materials and with different appearances and uses. SO COOl!

This year, I finally got a grape arbor built, using Western RedCedar that were growing in bad places (under powerlines, etc).

Here's how it looked when I built it:

I left all those branches because they just looked so useful. And, if I cut them off, there'd be no way to put them back on!


And here it is now!

I seriously LOVE how the squash are growing over it! Those little branches come in handy for the squash to cling to and drape on!


I also made this funky pergola for our kiwis.

my first big roundwood building project. There's a lot I'd do differently, now!


I also make wattle fences with hazelnut sticks and bamboo. These do well for things under 5 feet. They'd probably be more stable if I was able to drive the posts down into the ground more than 6 inches....but that would take more work!

This was taken just after I finished making the fence in the spring. It's one of the kids' gardens, and they love walking between the fences!


there's peas all over a wattle trellis behind the tomato cage I'm showing off in this old picture, ha!


This one's like a half-teepee, with strings for the peas to grow up
 
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I've relied on "teepees" of cut branches most years for beans.  However, my dog sometimes thinks these are sticks for his chewing and pulls them up,  so I had to find another option.

This year we had long 2×2s leftover from another project, so I used 5 to make the trellis pictured below.  I am not handy with  dimensional lumber, but this was super easy, like a 20 minute project.  Also easily collapsible to store in the garage rafters.

20210724_084414.jpg
Bean trellis
Bean trellis
20210724_084424.jpg
Detail of joint
Detail of joint
 
Denise Cares
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Hi Pearl, I actually am trying to build an arch to mimic a cheap quick greenhouse in order to keep the snow off sensitive plants like green onions and arugula and other greens which will begin to grow during the winter but will get crushed under the early spring snow we get at my elevation.  I want to be able to put plastic over the heavy wire arch during winter, braced of course,  and use it also for shade cloth during the peak heat of summer to extend the season for growing cool weather plants. I will leave the ends open or just gather the plastic together on the north end so it will retain some heat but not as efficient as a full greenhouse.  The arch would be mostly to hold up the plastic and the shadecloth, or nothing at all depending on the weather.  I want to leave the arch permanently in place and be able to walk under and around it all year long, maximum versatility, including support for climbing plants during summer. I grow green/walking onions in pots year round, so they can be relocated under the arch for winter.
 
Denise Cares
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Nice arches Laurel and lovely garden!  I think that what you used and call "concrete reinforcement" wire but off a roll is what I actually have (not cattle panels) altho the gauge of the wire might be similar.  I don't have the deep raised beds however, so need an alternative way to support the wire bent into a wide arch.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Denise Cares wrote:Hi Pearl, I actually am trying to build an arch to mimic a cheap quick greenhouse in order to keep the snow off sensitive plants like green onions and arugula and other greens which will begin to grow during the winter but will get crushed under the early spring snow we get at my elevation.  I want to be able to put plastic over the heavy wire arch during winter, braced of course,  and use it also for shade cloth during the peak heat of summer to extend the season for growing cool weather plants. I will leave the ends open or just gather the plastic together on the north end so it will retain some heat but not as efficient as a full greenhouse.  The arch would be mostly to hold up the plastic and the shadecloth, or nothing at all depending on the weather.  I want to leave the arch permanently in place and be able to walk under and around it all year long, maximum versatility, including support for climbing plants during summer. I grow green/walking onions in pots year round, so they can be relocated under the arch for winter.


An interesting thought: what about making it triangular rather than arch? Structure might be a lot easier that way. I was thinking about the bracing of that wire as an arch, and everything I could think of right off was complex, as it ends up holding a lot of weight. But triangular would be a lot less complex.

Sounds like a neat thing to do, I haven't had time to look at mine to see if I can cover them this fall, I probably can, but at the moment haven't even looked.

:D
 
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Denise Cares wrote:Nice arches Laurel and lovely garden!  I think that what you used and call "concrete reinforcement" wire but off a roll is what I actually have (not cattle panels) altho the gauge of the wire might be similar.  I don't have the deep raised beds however, so need an alternative way to support the wire bent into a wide arch.



Thanks!  
If you have a roll of heavy duty mesh, you can always support all 4 corners with T posts.
 
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Earlier, I wrote:Disadvantages:
- Requires a fence as backdrop
- Not super sturdy on its own



I'd like to add a couple more disadvantages to a simple urban fence as trellis system:

1) If parts of a vine are over the edge of the fence/trellis into another's property, or are into a neighbor's garden plot, then they risk getting cut or destroyed.  Sadly this happened to me while I was away from the garden for a few days.  Vine was cut and gone.  :(

2) Requires supervision of the fruiting bodies' locations.  Some vines have male and female flowers.  Take note of the female buds' locations.  The female ones look like mini fruits.  Should any fruit develop on the other side of the fence in a property which you don't have access to, then...well, hopefully someone else will enjoy it!  Additionally, take note of the fence material spacing.  If a bud forms right in between wires on the fence, its fruit may grow and lodge in place, and attempt to grow within the fence.  This will destroy the fruit, or make for some weird squash-fence mutant hybrid art.

To help mitigate both problems, you may need to regularly pull the vines over to your side of the fence, or snip off any trespassing branches to prevent escape.
 
Pearl Sutton
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George Yacus wrote:
To help mitigate both problems, you may need to regularly pull the vines over to your side of the fence, or snip off any trespassing branches to prevent escape.


I told the neighbors how to tell if the produce was ripe, so they could pick too :D  I also asked for permission to come on their side and pull weeds so they'd have no urge to spray. They LIKE that idea! Free weed pulling ranks up there with my free leaf pick up in the fall for popular with the neighbors, but to my advantage.
Community building for the win :D
 
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Observing nature I am experimenting with creating a 'trellis' out of giant spanish grass ( cane/bamboo) for grapes.

Wanting a quick hedge on my South boundry while eaiting for a hedgerow to develop I sprouted water can in a resorvoir. Once rooted I planted out along the boundary 1,5 meters in on our side.  I have taken dry wood and green wood grape cuttings and planted that indidevtge bamboo.  My hope is to have grape vines supported by the bamboo along the boundary.  

I got the idea and the cuttings from our property as the grapes grow up the bamboo down bybour stream.  

Time will tell if I have created a monster.
 
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You can't see them...but behind this "wall" of Kentucky long beans there are panels of wood framed welded wire ( that was used as mobile home animal exclusion skirting ) found free at the curb. They're wired onto T posts ( we take them down for Winter and stash them in the shed ) so far they're holding up well and we've been using them for several years.
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