Four of the highest yield summer plants per square foot are indeterminate tomatoes, pole beans, zucchinis, and chard! Three of these crops can be grown up, on trellises, in cages, so your land need is small. Chard is prolific, cut and come again all year long!
Tomatoes are classically grown UP! They have their own little support systems, tomato cages! Some people trellis them, grow them against the fence, espalier them, even grow them upside down! At Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden we have two foot diameter cages we build out of two remesh panels – if you are local, drop by to see them on the job!
We use those same structures for pole beans! Pole beans love growing on trellises, any kind! Those simple tripods tied at the top work fine. Or let them shinny up your sunflower Jack-in-the-Beanstalk style! I feed them across my remesh panel horizontally so they remain at harvest height!
For zuchs, the easiest thing is to grab the largest strongest tomato cage you have and feed the zuch leaves up though it as your zuch grows! Let some of the outmost leaves stick out so the plant is more open for easier harvesting in the center, air flows to allow cooler conditions to prevent mildews. Cut the bottommost leaves off as the plant gets taller and well foliated, plant other plants underneath! As your zuch vines more, put in another cage, or two, right next to the first one. Let your vine grow right over the top of them, above the other plants already growing there. Put in as many cages as you need as your vine grows. This is one time when it really doesn’t pay to let your zuchs get huge on the vine, break the plant from their weight, fall on plants below! Harvest small and salad tender. If you see one coming, don’t neglect to check on it in a maximum of 2 days. In prime conditions they are FAST growers!
If you are growing butternuts/winter squash, or gourds, pop in a well staked sturdy trellis – simplest is remesh 4′ X 7′ panels from Home Depot or OSH, or an arbor. Remesh can be bent whimsically or cut to fit a spot perfectly, or green wire tied together to make cage sizes that suit your needs. Tie your vine, 10′ for squash, 25′ for gourds, to the trellis, or to a southwest facing fence so your squash get plenty of heat and light. Use that flat green garden tie that expands with your plant as your plant grows. Heavy fruits will need to be supported. Use cloth twine, net veggie bags ie onion bags, old panty hose, old sheets, towels, colorful cloth scraps, parts of old clothes. Have fun with it!
That said, another ‘vertical’ trick, that doesn’t require tying, is to put up an upside down ‘U’ shaped device. Take one of those remesh panels, or a trellis and lay it over the top of sawhorses or any way you can devise, cinder blocks staked with rebar, whatever you have around. Be sure to support anyplace that needs it so the structure won’t sag. Plant your plants, cucumbers, melons, beans, outside the ends of your ‘arbor’; let them grow up and over. Your fruits will be supported by the remesh or trellis! Don’t make your structure too wide, and make it high enough – you want easy access to tend and harvest other plants that you will grow underneath, like summer lettuces that need a little shade! Or it can be a kid play place and they will harvest the beans for you!
Trellises?! Buying them readymade is time saving. Some gardeners would never dream of buying one. They build their own! Some make the simplest, three poles tied together at the top. Others go into fastidious detail and artistic ritual, creating works of beauty! To them, gardening wouldn’t BE gardening without doing that.
Blessings on your way. Up you go!