graham
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question about vertical growing...pic update from 6/15

My garden is 2'x8'x1' deep. Here is a pic...

[img]https://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa117/al46033/IMG00458.jpg[/img]

I am a total novice outside what I've read and what I have heard from others (my mom) lol. I am growing tomatoes, summer squash, okra and cucumbers on the back row. I am (for the most part) following the Square Foot Gardening method and I am planning to build a trellis along that back row. I was planning to do it the way it is recommended in the book--steel pipe as a frame with fishing line for the plants to grow up.

Would everyone recommend this? I know I have no experience to draw from, but I am having a hard time imagining that all that stuff will climb up those single lines with fruit attached...just seems like the weight wouldn't allow it all to hold up. Am I wrong on this?
Last edited by graham on Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hendi_alex
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You are correct, that netting is way too flimsy. Perhaps consider putting a another t post in the middle and it may be adequate. Better yet, attach something like concrete re-enforcing wire from post to post. That kind of rigid structure when given adequate support with t-posts will hold up the weight of anything that you allow to climb it.

Also, I can't tell how many plants of each kind you have, but a single squash plant will get at least 3-4 feet across. Tomato plants need to be at least three feet apart. Perhaps if you prune the tomatoes to a single central leader, then the square foot method will work well. Finally okra is a heavy feeder that can get 8-10 feet tall. IMO, it is not a particularly good candidate for the square foot garden.

For a first time gardener and first time with square foot gardening, you would probably have been better served to choose more plants that are less sprawling heavy feeders. Personally I wouldn't have more than one or two tomato plants in your space, and would have skipped both okra and squash as selections, as the bed will simply be too crowded. A couple of tomato plants, a couple climbing cucumbers, and filling in the open space with smaller crops such as lettuce, arugula, radishes, Swiss chard, sweet peas would probably give a greater chance at success. Alternatives could be pepper plants or egg plant, which do get fairly large, but only grow about 1/4-1/6 the size of squash. For such a small square foot garden space, for the future, you may want to look into smaller more compact bush forms of squash, cucumbers, even tomatoes.

If you find crowding to be a problem to the extent that the plants are suffering, be ready to shear a larger plant off at the ground, to reduce the competition with adjacent plants.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Mon May 23, 2011 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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graham
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Please forgive me for not being clear. The netting in the pic is just to keep my dog and hopefully the rabbits out. That isn't the trellis--I haven't built anything yet. I was going to go with the trellis recommended in the book, Square Foot Gardening, which is a frame of 1/2" steel pipe that goes 6 ft above the garden, with a single vertical line of monofilament for each plant that goes from the base of the plant, to the top of the frame.

It all seemed too crowded to me also, but I did exactly what is recommended in the book. 1 sq ft for tomatoes and peppers, 18" x 12" for the squash, two cukes per square (the okra is in one of those halves). 16 carrots per square, some herbs given as much space as the book recommends, and 8 pole beans per square. And the book recommends that you do one single stem all the way up the trellis. It said that you still get a lot more yield by this method then giving plants more room and letting them sprawl.


I have:

4 tomatoes
1 squash
1 okra
3 cukes
4 peppers
9 carrots
herbs
8 polebeans

Thanks for your input--it is valued. Clearly I don't have enough knowledge to disagree with you. I am just doing what the book says.

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that will be too much for that area. Not only will you have competition between plants for nutrients, but you will be at great risk for powdery mildew (PM). The squash, cukes, and beans can get this. I got it on melon plants last year and it isn't fun at all. With the amount of foilage you will have from just those plants will decrease airflow and put them at risk for pm. Check around for pics or maybe somebody has pics of these plants at fullsize.

ruggr10
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With the square foot gardening method you can grow tomatoes closer together but you need to grow with the single vine method. I'm doing that method so I can put 10 tomatoes in a 4 by 6 raised bed.

graham
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BP wrote:that will be too much for that area. Not only will you have competition between plants for nutrients, but you will be at great risk for powdery mildew (PM). The squash, cukes, and beans can get this. I got it on melon plants last year and it isn't fun at all. With the amount of foilage you will have from just those plants will decrease airflow and put them at risk for pm. Check around for pics or maybe somebody has pics of these plants at fullsize.
I appreciate yours and everyone else's feedback as to there not being enough room, but as I said, I am following the rec's of the book to the tee. So, we shall see if Mr. Bartholomew is wrong.

As far as powdery mildew---won't the amount of foilage be cut down due to the pruning to a single vine on each plant?


And on my original question... has anybody had success training single vined veggies like tomatoes, squash and cucumbers up a single line?

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This is my first year trying it, so we'll both be on the same page. That is if the rain ever stops!

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hendi_alex
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I'm growing some of my tomatoes in 3 gallon pots this year, and am pruning them single vine to go up a single six foot stake. I see no reason that they won't go up the twine just as well. Probably will have to use twist ties every 18 inches or so. As posted earlier, I do think the tomatoes will work with that spacing when trained as single vine. If the squash get any where near full sized, then they will over crowd the space. It could be that when planted in such an intensive way, the vines will be stunted but will still produce a large amount of fruit. That is one thing that I've gotten from Square Foot Gardening and other readings on intensive gardening. You will not get the largest most vigorous plants or fruit, but the total production of the space will be much greater than with traditional methods. I do lots of intensive gardening generally using square foot gardening techniques, but don't really follow the plan as a bible, but more as a general approach. For most of my gardening, I'll never go back to traditional rows.

Good luck with your first year's test run. Hope your garden produces an abundance for you.
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graham
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hendi_alex wrote:I'm growing some of my tomatoes in 3 gallon pots this year, and am pruning them single vine to go up a single six foot stake. I see no reason that they won't go up the twine just as well. Probably will have to use twist ties every 18 inches or so. As posted earlier, I do think the tomatoes will work with that spacing when trained as single vine. If the squash get any where near full sized, then they will over crowd the space. It could be that when planted in such an intensive way, the vines will be stunted but will still produce a large amount of fruit. That is one thing that I've gotten from Square Foot Gardening and other readings on intensive gardening. You will not get the largest most vigorous plants or fruit, but the total production of the space will be much greater than with traditional methods. I do lots of intensive gardening generally using square foot gardening techniques, but don't really follow the plan as a bible, but more as a general approach. For most of my gardening, I'll never go back to traditional rows.

Good luck with your first year's test run. Hope your garden produces an abundance for you.
Thanks. I'll check back in to let you all know how I am doing. I am only following it to the tee because I have near zero experience to go on. I was actually going to plant less in that space because my mom always gave things more room, but when I read that with each plant yielding less, I would still yield more from the space by planting more and going with single vines, I said, what the heck--higher quantity with more variety. When I asked my mom, she said she always wanted to do it that way, but that she just couldn't stand to prune off suckers that she knew would produce fruit. :lol:

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applestar
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I don't have the book, but I thought tomatoes were supposed to be 1 plant per 1x2.

Anyway, it always seems like there are plenty of space in the beginning of the season, and then a couple of months later, I'm shaking my head saying "What was I thinking!?" :lol: Too widely spaced, you're forever battling weeds in the empty spaces, and too closely packed and the production will suffer due to competition and/or the plants will be prone to disease. Basic rule of thumb -- if the foliage of the plants overlap and shade each other, they are too close, UNLESS you are making use of the shade for low-growing plants that benefit from the shade to extend their season.

IMHO, a MONOFILAMENT line is too thin and will CUT or strangle the stems due to movement from wind or weight of the plant itself, etc. Smoothness and thinness of the lines also make it difficult for plants -- even cucumber tendrils slip down vertical monofilament (yes I've tried it before :wink:).

graham
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applestar wrote:I don't have the book, but I thought tomatoes were supposed to be 1 plant per 1x2.

Anyway, it always seems like there are plenty of space in the beginning of the season, and then a couple of months later, I'm shaking my head saying "What was I thinking!?" :lol: Too widely spaced, you're forever battling weeds in the empty spaces, and too closely packed and the production will suffer due to competition and/or the plants will be prone to disease. Basic rule of thumb -- if the foliage of the plants overlap and shade each other, they are too close, UNLESS you are making use of the shade for low-growing plants that benefit from the shade to extend their season.

IMHO, a MONOFILAMENT line is too thin and will CUT or strangle the stems due to movement from wind or weight of the plant itself, etc. Smoothness and thinness of the lines also make it difficult for plants -- even cucumber tendrils slip down vertical monofilament (yes I've tried it before :wink:).
Maybe in a later addition he switched it to 1'x2'--the book I have is pretty old.

So instead of fishing line, what would you recommend? Twine?
Last edited by graham on Mon May 23, 2011 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hendi_alex
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Mono filament didn't jump out at me in the previous posts. I've always seen plants grown up cotton or nylon twist line. I believe mono filament could be made to work, but IMO it presents problems that would not exist with twist twine.
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ruggr10
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This is a great youtube video from a farmer in California that using square foot gardening for his tomatoes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6_ATF4lp4

If the link doesn't work, just go to youtube and type Growing Single Stem Tomatoes Vertically in a Square Foot Garden.

graham
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ruggr10 wrote:This is a great youtube video from a farmer in California that using square foot gardening for his tomatoes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6_ATF4lp4

If the link doesn't work, just go to youtube and type Growing Single Stem Tomatoes Vertically in a Square Foot Garden.
Very nice. Thanks. After the end, I had to go back and make sure Sweet 100's are indeterminate. Was worried for a minute. lol

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Mel re-issued his book in 2005. On page 192, he gives the "Spacing per square foot" for each vegetable. Here are the relevant numbers:

Tomato: as a bush, 1 plant per 9 SF; as a vine, 1 plant per 1 SF
Squash (summer): as a bush, 1 plant per 9 SF; as a vine, 1 plant per 2 SF (however, my SFG experience in 2008 was 1 plant per 4 SF)
Okra: 1 plant per 1 SF
Cucumber: 2 plants per SF (I *wonder* about this one...)
Peppers: 1 plant per SF
Carrots: 16 plants per SF
Herbs: Basil (small, 4 per SF; large, 1 per SF); Chives (16 per SF); Cilantro (1 per SF); Mint (1 per SF**); Oregano (1 per SF)
Pole Beans: 8 plants per SF

**I would not plant mint in a SFG or anywhere other than a pot. It spreads invasively, like wildfire, and will take over the entire frame.

So you are somewhat over-planted, even by Mel's own numbers. See whether you can lay your hands on a 2005 edition of his book to read the current recommendations for yourself.

I don't have feedback on most of these plants, because it's too cold at my house (due to the redwood in the back yard blocking several hours of sun every day) to grow most of the warmth-loving veggies. But I CAN tell you that Mel's recommendation of 6 inches of soil is wrong wrong wrong. You need a minimum of 12 inches, particularly for plants like...uh...carrots! and tomatoes! Other veggies have extensive root systems as well.

If you're gardening in such an intensive way--and believe me, Square Foot Gardening is one of the intensive schools of gardening--watch each plant every day for signs of harmful insects, beneficial insects, powdery mildew, and other potential discolorations. Look on top of and underneath the leaves. His book is woefully short on care of plants, emphasizing the planting and harvesting but not the in-between stuff like bugs, other pests, and diseases.

Best wishes with SFG! :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Last edited by cynthia_h on Tue May 24, 2011 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

graham
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Cynthia H-
Mel re-issued his book in 2005. On page 192, he gives the "Spacing per square foot" for each vegetable. Here are the relevant numbers:

Tomato: as a bush, 1 plant per 9 SF; as a vine, 1 plant per 1 SF
Squash (summer): as a bush, 1 plant per 9 SF; as a vine, 1 plant per 2 SF (however, my SFG experience in 2008 was 1 plant per 4 SF)
Okra: 1 plant per 1 SF
Cucumber: 2 plants per SF (I *wonder* about this one...)
Peppers: 1 plant per SF
Carrots: 16 plants per SF
Herbs: Basil (small, 4 per SF; large, 1 per SF); Chives (16 per SF); Cilantro (1 per SF); Mint (1 per SF**); Oregano (1 per SF)
Pole Beans: 8 plants per SF

**I would not plant mint in a SFG or anywhere other than a pot. It spreads invasively, like wildfire, and will take over the entire frame.

So you will are somewhat over-planted, even by Mel's own numbers. See whether you can lay your hands on a 2005 edition of his book to read the current recommendations for yourself.

I don't have feedback on most of these plants, because it's too cold at my house (due to the redwood in the back yard blocking several hours of sun every day) to grow most of the warmth-loving veggies. But I CAN tell you that Mel's recommendation of 6 inches of soil is wrong wrong wrong. You need a minimum of 12 inches, particularly for plants like...uh...carrots! and tomatoes! Other veggies have extensive root systems as well.

If you're gardening in such an intensive way--and believe me, Square Foot Gardening is one of the intensive schools of gardening--watch each plant every day for signs of harmful insects, beneficial insects, powdery mildew, and other potential discolorations. Look on top of and underneath the leaves. His book is woefully short on care of plants, emphasizing the planting and harvesting but not the in-between stuff like bugs, other pests, and diseases.

Best wishes with SFG!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone

So the only ones I am out of line on are squash and okra. He changed his tune on squash, and he didn;t mention anything on okra--I just searched to see how far apart people plant seeds, and I saw 4-6"....so....I guess I'll have to watch these, and maybe they'll have to come out. We'll see.

On the comment about watching everyday for pests and diseases--is this because they are more likely to pop up in intensive gardens?

Thanks everybody!

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Wow! You can really do a lot with a small space. I had no idea. I feel like we're wasting a lot of space that we have now.
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Insects less likely because of the interplanting. Insects less visible because of the crowded growing conditions. Disease more likely because of the crowded growing conditions and decreased air flow and sunshine on individual plants. IMO neither problem in most growing conditions would offset the benefits of intensive gardening practices. I love block planting at closer than traditional spacing and love interplanting in the same planting blocks.
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graham wrote: So the only ones I am out of line on are squash and okra. He changed his tune on squash, and he didn;t mention anything on okra--I just searched to see how far apart people plant seeds, and I saw 4-6"....so....I guess I'll have to watch these, and maybe they'll have to come out. We'll see.

On the comment about watching everyday for pests and diseases--is this because they are more likely to pop up in intensive gardens?

Thanks everybody!
As far as I can tell, bugs, pests, and diseases are likely to pop up any/everywhere. But as the poster immediately above said, it can be more difficult to spot them in a SFG so, if you make it a practice to check every day, it's likely that you'll see things within two or three days after they begin their depredations on your plants. This will allow you to take control measures before too much destruction has occurred.

Just imagine the destruction that could take place if you checked only twice a week. Bug/disease X comes down on your plants, but you miss it on only *one* go-through. Now it will have anywhere from four to six days to settle in on your plants. :x not fun....

Cynthia

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Thanks.

One more question/thought...

I understand that to grow on a single vine, you have to pinch off the suckers, or new vines...if the foilage is still too dense after doing this and risking disease by decreasing air/light exposure, would it be wise to prune more leaves? And if so, how much is too much?

Thanks again for all your input everyone. :)

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If you prune to a single stem or leader I don't think that you will have a problem. Those that I've pruned to a single stem have a pretty modest foot print. But from what I've read, tomato plants have far more leaves than they need to produce good sized and quality fruit, so if the plant seems too bushy, taking off a few extra leaves should not cause a problem.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Tue May 24, 2011 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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I'd recommend looking through our Tomato Forums for the answer to questions about tomato plants specifically. I have some of the trellis netting strung on a frame, and I let peas, fava beans, and the occasional tomato plant use it for support, but nothing terrifically heavy; the netting just won't take it.

Which is to say that I don't prune, cut back, single-stem, or in other ways treat my tomato plants like roses or other severely shaped plants, so I have no help for you there.

In general, remove no more than one-third of a plant's foliage at one time. But since (if I understand your plan correctly) you may have plants *starting* with one-third of their natural foliage, I'm not sure what fraction/percent of the foliage it might be safe to remove after that.

Cynthia

graham
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cynthia_h wrote: But since (if I understand your plan correctly) you may have plants *starting* with one-third of their natural foliage, I'm not sure what fraction/percent of the foliage it might be safe to remove after that.

Cynthia
Do you mean that since all the suckers are pruned off, you are already taking one third of the foilage? Even if the suckers you're taking are an inch long on a 4ft plant?

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I'm not up on the specifics of "single-stem" training a tomato plant. It sounds like such a gardener is removing a lot more than suckers; that's what I'm referring to in my message.

Expecting normal production from a plant whose productive capacity has been severely reduced may end in major disappointment. Again, I say that I am not experienced, nor have I even read up on this system of training tomato plants, so I could be far afield of reality. That's why I encourage people to ask specialty questions like this one in the Tomato Forum. It may even be that the Sticky about how to support/tie up tomatoes will deal with it. (And on that question: I tie my tomato plants and others with "dead" panty hose strips.)

Cynthia

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A tomato that has been pruned to single stem will not give normal production. A single tomato when not pruned will occupy approximately six square feet. With single stem pruning, the gardener can plant six tomato plants in that six square foot area. The idea is that six single stem tomato plants will out produce a single plant that occupies the same foot print. Also, in theory, the single stem tomato will produce fruit quicker than a similar unpruned plant. This year that has been the case for mine, as my first tomatoes have come from a plant that I pruned to a single stem.

To me, adjustments in gardening are not like some life or death decision, usually not even for the plant involved. Seems I read in the past that a cluster of tomatoes typically needs something like two leafed branches to supply the maturing fruit. Regardless, if you have a plant that appears overgrown with foliage and one or two of the excess branches get removed, it is not going to cause a dramatic change in the overall plant. So IMO you just try it, and if the move gives a favorable result, the gardener has feedback as to whether certain pruning is excess or not. In any event the fruit will still ripen and the plant will continue to grow and produce.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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graham
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hendi_alex wrote: So IMO you just try it, and if the move gives a favorable result, the gardener has feedback as to whether certain pruning is excess or not. .
Barring disasters, I shall find out. ;)

Speaking of disatsers--we are forecasted for severe tstorms with large hail tomorrow. Sure am glad my wife will be there to put a tarp up when the storms roll in. :)

graham
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Update with pics--

Everything sppears to be going very well up until now. A few aphids and cuke beetles, but they are under control I believe.

[img]https://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk234/brandellag/imagejpeg_6.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk234/brandellag/imagejpeg3.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk234/brandellag/img4.jpg[/img]

graham
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Also--I pulled the squash out and planted it back behin the garden. It was stressed by the transplant a bit, but it is doing ok now--has a bunch f squash on it already. You can see it on the 2nd pic next to the Better Boy tomato clipping I put in a cage to grow naturally to compare it to my Sq Ft yields.

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Your garden is looking good. I like the support structure you're using.
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