Supporting your Gardens Plants:
It doesn’t seem possible that it is already the middle of the summer. I swear I barely finished planting my cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. Now they are producing like crazy. The cucumbers are so prolific that I have donated over 200 of them to the local food pantry. That was after I made several gallons of pickles.
My hubs, Farmer Fred, has a saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” In the garden that translates too, Good plant supports, Great produce harvest. Supporting your gardens plants keeps them happy and will make you happy.
Types of Supports for supporting your garden plants:
Up first, tomatoes. The traditional supports for tomatoes are the tomato cages. The cages work fine when you have a couple of tomato plants. We plant about 30 plants. Fred built these heavy-duty supports for them. The supports do double duty in our garden. In the winter, I put them over the tulip bed and strawberry bed to keep the deer from eating them.
When I was growing up, we used to tie the plants to a stake with strips of fabric ripped from an old t-shirt. When tomato plants are on the ground without support, they are susceptible to the growth of molds and fungi. Voles and mice think they are a perfect home and move right in. They especially like the fact that the grocery store is part of their home as they nibble their way through your ripe tomatoes.
My SIS (simple is smart) method for cucumber supports:
The cucumbers are a vine plant that loves to run all over. I used to let the cucumbers just run helter-skelter around the garden. However, they often get crushed underfoot. It is hard to find and pick the cucumbers. Also, they like to over-run their neighbors. The solution to these outlaws is to put them in jail. Say What? Yes, put them in jail! Well, not a real jail just a cucumber jail. What is a cucumber jail? It is a length of concrete wire mesh attached to metal posts. Pound the posts into the ground at a 60- degree angle. The cucumber plants run up the mesh, and the cucumbers hang down through the spaces. Harvesting them is simple because all you have to do is go along and cut the cucumber off the plant once it is the size you want.
We had a thunderstorm blow through the other night. It blew down trees and made a mess of the area. If I hadn’t put up some supports for the corn stalks, they would all be laying on the ground, and the squirrels would be enjoying a corn buffet.
A large field of corn has enough stalks that they support each other. However, I planted two rows. Two rows are the minimum you can plant and still have the ears pollinate. Two rows of corn need additional support.
Metal posts placed along the row at about 8-foot intervals works great. Twine, run along the outside length of the row, is attached to the posts. Make the turn at the end and head back down the inside of the row. (see picture) Do this for both rows of corn.
A half of a tomato cage makes a great pepper plant support.
Raspberries are supported similar to the corn. Instead of twine, we use plastic coated wire run along the outside and inside of the bushes. The row is about 3 feet across so run a set of posts on each side of the row. Attach the wire mid-way up the posts and at the top of the posts. We use 6-foot posts.
Flowers need support also:
Most flowers will do fine without support. However, some do much better if they are supported and up off the ground. Gladiola’s put up heavy flower spikes that flop over if not supported. Dahlias will grow up to 8 feet tall if given enough support! Peony flowers are so heavy that they need extra support to stay off the ground while they are blooming.
Get creative when supporting your gardens plants. Anything that you can repurpose or recycle for supporting your gardens plants is great.
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