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Time to trellis those spring veggies

By Terry Kelley
University of Georgia

The seeds have come up, the gnats are out in full force and the garden is growing. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Well, not exactly. It’s time now to trellis some of those veggies you planted.

Trellising gets the plant and fruit up off of the ground, making way for better quality fruit and less disease. It also helps to maintain order in the garden and makes harvesting easier.

For tomatoes, some people simply use wire cages to put over the plants. The plants grow and are supported by the cages. Another method is to drive a one-inch square, four-foot stake into the ground by each plant and tie the plant to the stake.

If you have a long row of tomatoes, you can set a large post at each end of the row and again about every 20 feet within it. Attach a wire across the top of the posts and about four inches above the ground. Use twine to tie each plant to the wires for support.

Peppers can be staked as well. Using similar one-inch square stakes, place them about every fourth plant with twine running from stake to stake. Start the first twine four inches above the ground.

As the peppers grow, put another string about every four inches above the first. Start with the first stake and go on one side of the plants. Then go around the next stake and so on. When you get to the last stake, come back down the other side of the plants to box the plants in and keep them from falling over.

Cucumbers also grow better when trellised. You can use four-foot fencing wire and some posts to build a temporary fence beside the cucumber row. Then just train the vines up on the fence as they grow. You’ll find and pick your cukes easier.

Eggplant can also be staked. Tomato stakes or rebar, a common steel bar used to reinforce concrete, can be placed next to each eggplant. Then secure the plant.

Be careful not to cut into plants as you tie them with twine. But keep the twine tight enough to support the plants.

Trellising is one chore that should be done fairly soon after plants are established.

Don’t forget to scout for insects and disease problems, too. Keep your weeds in check and water as needed. A gardener’s work is never quite done. But doing chores when needed will help you relax and enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer a little more.

(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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