Grow up, Squash!

One of the coolest things about a community garden is seeing how people garden differently and learning from their experiences. We share a few collective plots in our garden for the food bank & shared harvests. One of these plots has turned into an experiment in vertical squash production. A fellow gardener built a trellis from salvaged material for the collective winter squash.

I have been peripherally interested in trellising squash for the past two years. The sprawling vines of a squash plant take up a lot of room, so growing it vertically saves quite a bit of space and I suspect the vertical space provides extra ventilation to help with the mildew that plagues squash. It just seems like a good idea, and the squash seem happy enough to climb up the trellis.

I am not a very tool-savvy person and I haven’t dedicated the time to engineering this sort of project. So imagine my excitement to watch squash growing like this on trellises we didn’t have to build.

There is some mildew on the lower leaves, but otherwise the plant seems healthy. Most other squash in the garden were 75% mildew at this point.

I am worried about that the weight of heavier squash might pull them off the vine before they’re fully ripe. So far, I haven’t seen many issues with this at the community garden so it may not be a problem after all. Plants are pretty smart about gravity, so they might know how to handle it. If you’re worried about the weight, you can fashion a little hammock for the squash. The trellis method is more labor-intensive than letting squash grow across the ground, but since Krista & I seem to have an affinity for making gardening projects more labor-intensive than other people (see: our potato stacks) that shouldn’t be a problem.

This method wouldn’t work with very large squash like the hubbards, but I can imagine acorn squash or sugar pie pumpkins getting along fine without ripping down the structure. A major limiting factor for how much squash we plant is always space, so I’m excited about the possibilities. Have you ever grown winter squash vertically? Share your experiences!



Filed under fall, garden, urban farming

7 responses to “Grow up, Squash!

  1. Well I’ve tried to grow them vertically but they always seem to sulk! I think I need to pick the right variety. Lovely looking squash and plots you have there :)

    • That is good to know! I have found with vertical potatoes that the variety matters a lot more than I expected, so it’s not too surprising to find out that squash might be the same. I will do more research before seed buying season, in that case. Thanks for reading!

  2. val

    The winter squash I grew this summer was such a monster (both the vine and the fruit) that this would not work, but by next summer, I am very interested in testing my light carpentry abilities (currently nonexistent) and trying to build something more sturdy for my other plants.
    I have a store-bought trellis for my cucumbers, and unfortunately it has not helped with the mildew problem.
    I’ve checked out a couple of books on vertical gardening, but I have not been able to find the perfect how to guide to building good trellises.

    • I think choosing the right variety would be key — so exciting to have another thing to experiment with, right? How do you plan to get carpentry skills? I don’t have any, and I don’t understand how you learn without apprenticing yourself to someone. I don’t know how to build a good trellis either, but especially if you are using scrap/salvaged bits, it is more trial and error I guess?

      Interesting to know about your cucumber mildew. Maybe it’s a fluke with these fellows.

  3. Wow, they look so cool! I’d love a communal garden. I adore squash at this time of year, I can’t believe how awesome they look.

  4. Hmm. Makes me wonder about growing them up my back fence.

  5. Ray

    I’ve grown cucumber and cantaloupe vertically, and both were very successful. On both I actually used a large tomato cage, turned it upside down, and tied the points (I can’t think of what these are called–you know, the part that goes into the ground around the tomato plant.) together with gardening twine. It worked really well for me. They seemed to appreciate the ability to climb toward the sun. At least that’s what I think. I have also built trellises, and those were equally as successful. I never had any problem with the weight of either produce. I definitely suggest this method because it allows a gardener to control the spreading vines and keep them from climbing up other plants. I didn’t do it this year, but I didn’t really grown anything here in Okla. Anyway, think about it. Really.

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