Last week, and now again this week, has been all about the fences.
Here are a couple of trellis solutions for cucumbers, melons and tomatoes.
Last week I spent an inordinate amount of time fixing the pvc with netting that was my shoestring cucumber trellis from last summer. I contemplated replacing it with the new, easy, but much more expensive fencing I’ve adopted for the melon beds (and everything else it seems) but opted to keep it in place. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?
I’m pretty glad now that I didn’t because I was able to plant some marigolds, tansy and borage in the center, on the ends.
I’ve put lettuce in the middle of this kind of trellis before, but it didn’t work out so well for me. I found that once the cukes take off, which happens really quickly, it’s very difficult to get your hands to the middle in order to retrieve your lettuce. The marigolds, and tansy won’t need picking and they serve as an excellent bug deterrent. The borage is on the far end of the frame, so I should be able to reach in from the end to get any flowers or leaves I may want. I’m also growing borage in the herb bed and in two large pots, so I have plenty of places to harvest it elsewhere in the garden.
All the the melons that are for eating, are now planted, as of last evening. The transplanted seedlings have been out there for a couple of weeks now, but I finished the new seed hills last night. I’m really excited about the melons this year. They are so fun to grow, with their long, graceful vines and cheery flowers. Then when they set fruit, it’s like Christmas in July! Orbs of sweet delight appear and grow…and grow…and grow!
Because I trellis my melons, I always choose varieties that stay really small. Each fruit from my varieties only reach 1-2 pounds. When the melon gets the size of a baseball, I use old stockings or tights to gently support them on the trellis. You just slip the melon in the stocking, and then tie the stocking to a fence bar a little higher up. This keeps the weight of the melon off of the stem. The nylons are stretchy, so the melon just keeps expanding in their little cocoons. I put brown paper bags and newspaper down as a weed deterrent. It gets tilled in the following year. The Parsnip doesn’t mind the bags, but he really hates the paper, I guess it does look kind of messy, but I know it serves its purpose so I’m okay with it.
My mother in law wears knee highs every day so she always has plenty of runnered or holey nylons for me each summer. = )
I say all the melons that are for eating because, well, this year I bought a melon that isn’t particularly for consumption. I mean, you can eat it, but it’s rather bland and tasteless. It’s called Queen Anne’s Pocket or Plum Granny, and it’s grown for it’s fragrance rather than it’s taste. I’m growing it in big pots by both of the porches, front and back. The smell is supposed to be heavenly. I also put Rosemary and Lavender along the porch for the same reason. I do think I’ll pickle some of these melons as well. I think I’ll do them like watermelon rinds with lots of cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla and star anise. We’ll see. (Please, accept my apology for the blurry phone picture)
I want to show you a couple of before and after pics from the flower bed by the driveway. It’s really lovely there now. It’s so cheerful to come home to.
Back to the fences…
In my backyard I have one bed that is kind of a monster. It has been empty until yesterday. It’s sheer size, 25′ by 20′ has put me off. Yesterday, I conquered the beast!
I started by running fencing along two sides, this will be tomato heaven, then I made rows. In the middle, I’ll run one more line of fencing for more tomatoes. This will be enough space for 15 tomato plants. I have seedlings that have all but given up on me and just started to flower in their pots, so the fences have gone up in the nick of time. = ) The interior rows will be peppers, sweet peppers that is, the hot peppers are in the front yard. Plus, I think I’ll put a few eggplants back there as well.
I have beautiful sweet peppers this year. I have Corno Di Toro Giallo, a beautiful yellow banana pepper from Italy. I have Red Cheese for stuffing and Pepperoncini’s, which are a family favorite fresh or pickled. I’ve said it before I think, if you stand too still there’s a good chance you’ll be sauced, frozen or pickled at the Gunz household during the summer. It’s best to keep busy. = )
I have one more row of radishes to harvest, Mino Whites and Green Meats, then that bed will be turned over to the tomatoes as well.
Sixty tomatoes in all, when it’s said and done. In case you’re thinking, “Good gravy, how many tomatoes can a family of six eat?” We eat a lot of tomatoes, but not 60 plants worth. I’m going to be selling produce this year = ) My neighbors are giddy with the prospect of organic produce so close at hand, and I’m pretty excited to be able to earn a little money doing something I truly love.
Speaking of keeping busy…I must go now. I hope you have a paisley Tuesday. I don’t know about fences making good neighbors, but they do make an excellent trellis!