Is there any limit to what vines can be effectively trellised, short of
watermellons? I planted two butternut squash seedlings this year. Of
course, they have run the whole length of my 12x24 ft garden. What is
interesting is that they have climbed up my 6 foot tomato cages, across
the top and back down before moving further out.
I was amazed to find two full sized butternut squashes hanging from the
vines a few feet above ground in the midst of my tomato plants. They
are as big as any I've seen at the grocery store. The vine stem was
noticably thicker and stronger on these ones, and there was no problem
supporting the weight. I usually trellis cucumbers, which works quite
well, but I had no idea a squash that size would work so well. The
only problem is that I would need a 30 foot trellis for these!
Anyone trellis anything bigger? I'll post pictures to the .binaries
group if anyone is interested.
I'm curious about this business of trellising squash, as I've never done
it with any cucurbits other than cukes, but many people say it can be
done. It doesn't seem like it would help much for squash that don't get
really "viney" (such as zuchs or yellow squash), while the ones that do
spread out put down supplemental roots that I imagine might be important
to the overall health of the plant. I believe commercial growers often
use plastic mulch with summer squash but not with pumpkins or other
winter squash for this reason.
In your case, it appears the squash still have plenty of "feet on the
ground," they just take a little detour over the tomato cages along the way.
I have never done it with squash, but I put tomato cages around my
cantaloupe to keep out the critters one year. later found one growing from
the side of the cage about 16 inches from the ground. When I found it, it
was too big to do anything with so I left it alone. I watched it grow and
mature until it was ripe. One day I went out and found that it had
"slipped" off the vine and fallen to the ground. One of the critters had
been watching it also because it had been carried off to be eaten. I
couldn't find anything to indicate it had ever been there (seeds, peel,
Try it next year and let us know how it worked. You may be inventing a way
to keep squash vines from taking over your garden.
I've been growing all my vine-type squash on an 8-ft trellis for about four
years. It works quite well if you are diligent in tying the vines up, though
a taller trellis would be better. I've found that all the squash/melons
develop a larger/stronger stem to compensate. I've had a 10 ft pumpkin
growing up high, as well as a soccer-ball size watermelon. I intended to
sling them but never got around to it or did it quite late. It's really
nicer because, not only does it help to contain the plants, but the fruits
stay nice and clean without the discolored spot where they usually sit on
the ground and they're easier to find.
The most interesting thing that I saw happening was a Chinese melon that
grew watermelon size actually wrapped a vine along the bottom of one of the
larger melons to support itself. The melons were fine but I had to reinforce
the trellising when the melons got larger and it got top heavy.
In my experience, cucumbers, butternut squash, and melons are self
supporting. I'd sling watermelon and the smaller pumpkins. (I'm talking the
icebox size watermelon and the smaller sized pumpkins.) The trouble I've
been having is trying to determine ahead of time which squashes are vine
type and which are bush as this info isn't usually given on seed packs.
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