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Saturday, August 28, 2010

The veggie garden 2010-Part 3 (Trellises)

Our trellises and support systems in 2009 were pretty basic compared to the ones we put up this year. (Read about the 2009 trellis system here)

Our support structure for the Bush Beans was made from a #8 or #10 gauge steel ladder that is use as a stucco/concrete wall form. We spray painted it with rust proof paint, put two together and strung them around to form our very own Quick-Tee-Pee!

.....they are held together with some degradable twine.

Our other trellises for the climbers were built out of 7 ft tall 2x4 's bolted to the sides of the planter bed with 1/2"x5" Galvainzed lag screws

To give it added structural support, we put in a 2x4 across at the top using hanger boxes which make it a lot more convenient.

We then tried a number of variations on putting up the actual trellis. Our first attempt was pulled together using "C hooks" with the degradable twine going through the hooks. These aren't quite sturdy and tend to sag quite a bit. Moreover galvanized "c hooks" were tough to find.

So the next trellis that we put up was using #16 gauge aluminium wires threaded through eye hooks with a tension control mechanism (Hook and an eye) on the end.

Fortuitously this structure was in the bed the Opo Squash was in and it turned out to be good. But getting it set up was a herculean task. And I am assuming that at the end of the season it will be a bigger pain to clean things up. If it was just our degradable twine, I could cut it at a number of places and yank the whole thing and put it in our composter.

So we threaded the twine through the eyelets to create our other trellises

The Tomatoes have the Cadillac of the support systems, the Texas Tomato cages. Now that I see them growing, I doubt if anything else would have stood a chance. Though our home-made cages from last year are good, they are probably not a match for our massive Tomato plants from this year.

The smaller varieties of Tomatoes are housed in the cages from last year and the Tomatillos are housed in the store bought Tomato cages we bought in 2008 when we knew nothing about growing vegetables. You can see that the Tomatillo's have completely overgrown the cage and are also falling down.

One of our Tomato varieties (and I am guessing they are the Cherry Tomatoes) have been growing like crazy. They have outgrown the Texas Tomato cage. The Texas Tomato Cage is 6 ft tall, so this Tomato plant is about 8 ft tall at least.

There are 3 cages in this bed, but the plant on the farthest left has taken over most of the air space of the one in the middle.

Also there supposedly is a 2 ft walkway between these 2 beds that currently does not exist.

For the Eggplants we cut the same concrete form work structure used for the bush beans into 2 feet lengths and supported each plant to it using our twine

And of all...the Cucumbers got the short end of the stick. They are in our beds from last year with a wimpy trellis that was put together using some 2x2 lumber and tomato cage wire mesh.


  1. I've never needed to stake my bush beans. When do you get eggplants in CA? Ours already yielded a few and just a couple more weeks to go before frost in MN. I guess longer growing season helps a lot!

  2. My eggplants are just reaching their peak yields here. We have had a pretty cold summer here so things are slow here.

  3. What are hanger boxes? Your trellises look easy to build and I would like to build some for next year. Are these kind of trellises the right kind for all our Indian veggies like podalankkai, sorakkai, peerkankkai,cucumber etc. Thanks for you help in advance.


  4. Usha...Hanger boxes are typically available at HD/ Lowes. They are used in home construction to connect two pieces of lumber. There are different dimensions depending on the size (2x4, 2x6 etc) of the wood pieces you are looking to connect. This superstructure is fairly easy to set up. However we have had a lot of difficulty settling on the twine or string material. It takes a lot of time in summer to thread the the twine through the loops for each of the trellises. A metal galvanized twine makes it a very expensive investment the first time around.

  5. Thank you so much for the quick reply. Where do you get the the metal twine - in HD/Lowes ?

  6. Usha, I am told by Guru (the expert in all things hardware related) that this is not metal twine, but regular GALVANIZED 14 gauge wire that you can pick up at HD/Lowes. However, there is a downside, the wire will easily kink around a bend and is not easy to thread from loop to loop as a twine is and not easy to tigthen. Hence, we realized a better option is to get GALVANIZED Rope. Pick up the thinnest you can get and since this is braided its easy to bend around hooks or eyes and can be tightened like a twine. Hope this helps. Post some pics once you are done. I would love to see your progress.

  7. One additional comment. I misspoke when I said we used #14 gauge.. actually it was thinner, #16 gauge. Plus, you may want to look into getting the "Poly" coated galavanized rope. This would be green in color and has two advantages, i.e. better rust protection because of the added coating and easier to slide/bend around hooks. Its almost double the price however of the uncoated version.

  8. Hi,

    I finally built one trellis and am more confident to build three more. Thanks a lot for your help and your pictures were a great help too. I kept referring back to them quite a bit. I have to mention here that I went with a diff. design ( ) for the actual design. I got intimidated by the hanger boxes and lag screws(am not handy at all). I used 'c' hooks for putting up the twine. I went with degradable twine and am going to look for galvanized rope. I would like to send some pics. but could not figure out how to attach them.

    Thanks a bunch.

  9. That is impressive, I would love to see your pictures. My email id is