We’re approaching the beginning of spring. That means growing season for all you gardeners out there. Initially, many of the crops and flora we plant at the beginning of spring need support to assist them in growing straight and healthy. But there are other reasons why you should consider supports during your initial planting. Providing durable supports for plants to lean and climb on provides such additional benefits as:
• Conserving space and fitting more plants into a garden.
• Ensuring sufficient air circulation and drying of leaves to minimize the chance of pests and diseases.
• Positioning Fruit more toward the sunlight.
• Ensuring an easier harvest.
• Enhancing the visual presentation of a garden.
There are manufactured supports you can buy from a garden center. But you can save cash and have a good time constructing your own durable supports. You don’t need exotic materials. You may be able to find twigs and other items that can provide support, you can craft supports out of simple materials you probably have on hand, or you can buy the materials you need from your neighborhood home improvement store.
At the beginning of spring, your garden will include tiny seedlings and cuttings. They are vulnerable to weather conditions as they start to establish themselves in the soil. Although they grow quickly, you want to ensure that they grow straight and upward and have the strength to avoid damage and disease. Supports should be used on starts when you transplant them in your garden. Or, if you grow plants from seed, install supports after you’ve had a chance to thin the seedlings.
Gardeners who favor supports suggest that you err on the side of caution when providing support for plants. There is no such thing as giving too much support. As plants grow they get heavy and can tip over flimsy supports. In addition, the use of tall supports can significantly increase yield of crops because they permit more space in which the plants can grow.
Yes, the main purpose of supports is to assure a healthy growing plant, it shouldn’t be the only priority. You want to be sure that the supports are designed to make your job easier. You want to create supports that provide maximum accessibility to your plants.
When it comes to supports, one size doesn’t fit all. Different styles of supports offer different degrees of reinforcement. In other words, you need to decide which style of support best fits the need of each individual plant.
Knowing how plants grow will help you select the proper style of support for them.
Deciding What Style Of Support Best Match Which Plants
Peas, cucumbers, melons, grapes and squash are tendril-climbers. They feature thin limbs that grow from the stems or leaf stalks that wrap around a support and pull the plant up. The best supports for them are cages, trellises and arbors.
Beans are twiners. They feature a main stem that grows in a spiral around the support. The best styles of supports are teepees, trellises, and arbors.
Hops are grippers. They include coarse, thick stems that grip on to a support and grow in a coil around them. Grippers need a support that is very durable. The best styles of support include trellis and arbors.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatillo are sprawling plants. This category of plant does not climb. So, in this case, supports are used to assist in containing them and keeping fruit off the ground. In this case, you are required to tie the plants to the support. The best style of supports for these plants includes cages, stakes, and trellises.
Raspberries and blackberries are bramble plants. These plants don’t climb either. Instead, supports help to contain them and keep fruit off the ground. The best style of supports for these plants includes bramble and trellises.
Items You Need To Construct Supports
Visit your neighborhood home improvement center and purchase the following:
• Concrete Reinforcement Mesh. This is used to construct tall, durable cages, trellises, and arbors. Purchase a roll of about 5-feet or 6-feet tall. It is suggested that you wear heavy gloves and safety glasses. Tools you will need include wire cutters and pliers.
• Stakes. They can be made of metal, wood, bamboo, or rebar. You will also need ties to integrate the plants to the stakes.
• Bamboo Stalks. They are used as stakes or can be used to construct a trellis or teepee.
• Rebar. Made of reinforced steel, rebar is used as a stake or they can be shaped into archways for a trellis or arbor.
• Nylon Trellis Netting. This is used to stretch across a trellis, arbor, or cage and provides a surface on which the plant can climb.
• String. Used to tie plants to supports, string can also be used to instead of trellis netting.
• Untreated Wood. It’s suggested that you select untreated, sustainably grown-hardwood or borax-treated wood.
• Garden Wire. The wire should be galvanized or rubber coated. It’s used to attach netting or mesh to stakes as well as to tie plants to a support.
• Zip Ties. They are plastic fasteners that can be used instead of wire.
How To Stake A Plant
A stake is probably the easiest support to construct. You will need these tools and supplies for this project.
• Rubber Mallet
• String, wire, or zip ties
Staking a plant is a very simple process that takes no more than 3 steps.
1. Use the rubber mallet to drive the stake into the ground about 2-inches to 3-inches from the stem of the plant.
2. Support the plant to the stake with the ties.
3. Add more ties as the plant grows.
How To Build A Cage
Items you will need to construct a cage include:
• Safety Glasses
• Heavy Gloves
• Wire Cutters
• Concrete Reinforcement Mesh
• Stakes (optional)
• Zip Ties Or Garden Wire
Constructing a cage can be done in just 7 steps.
1. Put on the safety glasses and heavy gloves to protect yourself and then use the wire cutters to cut a 5-foot section of concrete reinforcement mesh. Mesh of this size will make an 18-inch diameter cage.
2. Use the pliers to bend the prongs into a 90° angle to create hooks.
3. Link the hooks to a vertical wire to form a round cage.
4. Cut and remove the bottom row of horizontal wires to create 6-inch spikes for legs.
5. Plunge the legs into the ground.
6. Attach the cage to two stakes with zip ties or wire.
7. Gently tie the plant to the cage.
How To Build A Bean Teepee
Items you’ll need to construct the teepee include:
• Six 6-foot long bamboo stalks or sturdy poles.
• Tape Measure
• String, garden wire, or zip ties.
You’ll be able to construct a teepee in 5 steps.
1. Locate the best spot in the garden for a teepee. Etch a 3-foot diameter circle around the bottom of the teepee.
2. Mark each bamboo stalk or pole with the marker 6-inches from the bottom.
3. Firmly push the poles into the ground a few inches apart from one another around the 3-foot diameter circle. Leave a gap between two poles for a door if you want one. The poles should go down into the soil until the lines you had drawn on them are even with the ground.
4. Secure the poles together with string, garden wire, or a zip tie a few inches from the top.
5. Plant two beans per pole and water liberally. Train the beans to grow up the legs of the teepee.
How To Build A Trellis
Items you’ll need to do this project include:
• Shovel or post hole digger
• Three pieces of 1-inch by 1-inch by8-foot or 2-inch by 4-inch by8-foot untreated lumber
• 5 by 7-foot piece of trellis netting
• Staple gun, string, or wire to attach the trellis netting to the poles
• Deck screws
• Cordless drill or screwdriver
This project can be done in 5 steps.
1. Select a location for the trellis. Dig two 3-foot deep postholes 7-feet apart on the location you’ve selected.
2. Place a piece of lumber in each hole and then compact soil tightly around it. This will serve as the legs of the trellis.
3. Weave the trellis netting onto the top support beam or attach it with staples, strong or wire.
4. Lift the support beam onto the supporting posts and screw it on with deck screws. (You’ll need help to do this).
5. Attach the netting to the legs using staples, string, or wire.
How To Build A Bramble Trellis
Materials and tools you’ll need to perform this project includes:
• Four 6-foot-tall fence posts (wood or metal)
• Rubber Mallet
• Tape Measure
• Roll of 10- or 12-gauge galvanized wire
• Wire Cutters
• Staple gun or 4 eyebolt screws needed if using wood posts
This project can be completed in 4 steps.
1. Drive a fence post 1-foot deep into each corner of the garden.
2. Take a post and tape measure and measure 18-inches up from the ground and mark the point. At the point you marked, wrap wire around the post several times. If you’re using wood posts, wrap the wire around several times and staple the wire to the post. Or you can attach an eyebolt screw and wrap the wire firmly around it. Stretch the wire to the next pole and repeat the process all around the rectangle until you have returned to the original post. Wrap the wire around the first post again and then cut the wire.
3. Repeat the process around the tops of the poles.
4. Tuck stray brambles inside the trellis and prune branches that reach above the trellis.
How To Construct A Rebar And Mesh Arbor
Tools and supplies you’ll need to build a rebar or mesh arbor includes:
• Six pieces of 3/8-inch x 10-foot rebar
• Rubber Mallet
• Tape Measure
• Zip Ties
• 5×17-foot piece of concrete reinforcement mesh
• Wire Cutters
Instructions to perform this project.
1. Select a location for the arbor and then etch out a 4-inch wide by 5-inch long rectangle onto the soil.
2. Drive a piece of rebar into each corner of the rectangle using the rubber mallet. Bury the rebar 5-feet into the ground and leave 5-feet above ground.
3. Connect two pieces of rebar tightly with a zip tie. Make sure that the tie is secure enough to bend both rebar poles at the same time. Put one foot in the middle and bring both ends up toward you to make a symmetrical hoop. Bend until the ends are 4-feet apart. This will be the final width of the rectangle. Remove the zip tie and separate the two pieces of rebar.
4. Attach the hoops to bridge the stakes and secure with zip ties. The stakes should be 4-feet apart. This structure will serve as the hoop tunnel.
5. Stretch the piece of reinforcement mesh over the tunnel. Make sure it fits before you secure it. Use wire cutters to shorten the mesh before attaching.
6. Attach the mesh to the rebar hoops with zip ties. Start attaching zip ties at the top and then work your way down the sides. Place a zip tie about every inch or so. (You will probably need help to achieve this step).
7. Cut the tails off the zip ties.
The article provides you with six options that can be used to support plants and crops during their initial growing period so they grow straight, strong, and healthy.