Although most vining plants will produce an adequate harvest if left alone, when practical, they’d all benefit from some vertical support. Besides the added benefit of conserving space and getting more out of your garden’s footprint, by growing plants vertically, we open them up to much needed air circulation and light; two things very important for keeping plants healthy and productive. In this podcast, Joe Lamp’l sheds some light and what you need to know to support your plants properly.
BHG015 – Supporting Your Plants
So at one time or another, we’ve all heard or said; “Oh, grow up!!!” Besides the implication of acting like a child, there was a lot more to the expression. It refers to being ready for the challenges that lie ahead, and the same applies to many of the plants in our garden! Although most vining plants will produce an adequate harvest if left alone, when practical, they’d all benefit from some vertical support. In the home garden, the most common candidates include tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans and peas.
Besides the added benefit of conserving space and getting more out of your garden’s footprint, by growing plants vertically, we open them up to much needed air circulation and light; two things very important for keeping plants healthy and productive. The air circulation helps to dry out plant leaves faster, so less the chance for diseases to take hold. Similarly, when a plant is properly supported, more sunlight reaches more leaf surface. We already know by now just how important it is for plants to take in maximum sunlight each day, so by providing that opportunity as our Burpee Home Garden plants grow, the better off they’ll be.
And there’s another very important reason to support your plants. Some plants become laden with fruit and the weight of even one large tomato or a cluster of peppers can be more than the stem of that plant can bear. Without adequate support, the plant eventually gives way under all the weight of ripening fruit. Usually the stem folds over or breaks. Either way, now you have a situation that will affect the future health and harvest, and I KNOW you don’t want that. So even with non-vining, woody-stemmed plants, like peppers and eggplants, staking is a prudent action that will protect your plants.
So what’s the best type of support for all the plants in your garden? Well, that depends. Some plants climb rather than twine. Small finger-like tendrils reach and grab onto whatever they comes in contact with. Cucumbers and peas are classic climbers. Twine, netting or galvanized fencing works well, largely because of the many contact points for the tendrils to find as the plant grows up. Climbers by contract, wind their way around their support. Pole beans are the classic climbers. Provide these plants with tall pieces of bamboo or other similar support and stand back.
And then you have those plants that aren’t considered climbers or twiners, but still need to be supported to keep them upright under the weight of ripening fruit. Tomatoes are the most common plant like this. I always support my tomatoes, even bush varieties. As for the taller, plants, my favorite method is to use a large, sturdy round wire cage made from heavy fencing, with the plant growing up within in. But there are endless ways to support your plants, so you’ll need to decide what works best for you. Smaller plants like peppers and eggplants do well with simple staking. Just be sure not to bind the plant too tightly. Always use something soft and flexible. My favorite methods are to use florist tape or Velcro plant ties. Even an old pair of stockings is ideal for its flexibility and strength, but again, there are many choices!
So just because we’ve provided the right location for our plants when we created our garden, it’s important to make sure we keep it that way. By helping them grow “up”, we’ll have a healthier, and more productive garden too.And speaking of support, there are 26 Burpee Home Gardens podcasts in this series, all created to provide the support you need to get your garden off to a great start, and see it through, all the way to harvest. You can subscribe to the entire series for free in iTunes. Or find them at burpeehomegardens.com, along with a lot more helpful ideas and inspiration anytime.
Now go get dirty!