gardening thoughts #6: don’t be afraid to stake and cage

Perhaps the biggest lesson that my garden taught me this year is to not be afraid of staking and caging my plants.

My 2020 garden has been a hot mess of unruly plants, particularly the bed that had the zucchini, cucumber, and two tomato plants that I didn’t think would make it. While I did put an a-frame trellis over the bed, it just wasn’t enough to keep things contained.

Here’s what I should have done and what I plan to do next year:

First, I’m only planting two zucchini plants at most and will probably pull whichever one is producing less. I started with three plants this year and only ended up with one that produced any fruit. Limiting the plants will allow me to focus on staking and vertically growing next year. I’m debating on growing it in a pot and tying it to my porch post as it grows to keep it off the ground and help prevent powdery mildew.

For the cucumber plants, I’m going to be better about tying them to the trellis and training them to grow up and over it. I was pretty overwhelmed by how quickly my plants grew this year and didn’t do enough to keep them organized. As a result, I had a tangled mess of cucumber vines all of the place. I also kept finding overripe cucumbers that were lost in the mess. I definitely need to step up my game here as cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables.

Lastly, I need to make sure that I cage or aggressively prune my tomato plants. My two highest producers were the plants that I didn’t think would live. They both outgrew the space that I had intended them for and contributed to the overgrown look of my yard. I hard to be annoyed though since all of the fruit contributed to some yummy tomato sauce that I canned. I’m looking forward to enjoying them throughout the winter.

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