Growing on a Trellis for Bigger and Better Cucumbers
Growing cucumbers on a trellis has many incredible benefits, including increased yields. Read on to learn how to successfully grow cucumbers vertically on a trellis, techniques for training the vines, and tips for choosing the right type of support.
Do cucumbers have to be grown on a trellis? No, not at all. Many people grow them horizontally across the ground. The problem with this, however, is that once the vines start to get long and sprawl naturally, they can quickly take over the garden. By the end of the summer, you may struggle to reach other crops or move quickly around your garden because the cucumber vines can become so entangled and vast. Consider growing your cucumbers on a trellis as you would with beans—it will be one of the best gardening decisions ever made.
There are two varieties of cucumber plants: vining and bush. If you want to grow your cucumbers on a trellis, you need the vining (or climbing) variety. The climbing varieties have vining tendrils: side shoots that emerge from the main stem. These tendrils can reach out and grab onto anything they touch.
Why Grow Cucumbers on a Trellis?
Space — When you train the vines vertically, it frees up tons of space in your garden. You may even have room for other shorter crops underneath.
Prevent disease — Soil can get on the leaves when they’re on the ground. Keeping cucumbers off the ground slows down the spread of disease, making for healthier plants.
Improved airflow — Growing cucumbers vertically allows for a better, more even airflow. Foliage will dry out faster, helping to prevent fungal diseases.
Pest protection — Getting cukes up off the ground keeps them out of reach of many pests. Additionally, they are less likely to rot than just sitting on the ground.
Easy harvest — Trellising cucumbers makes them easier to harvest. They hang down from the vine, making them much easier to see and cut down.
Aesthetics — Since gravity pulls them down, your crops will always be straight and beautiful. They’re also cleaner and won’t have any yellow spots on them (which happens when they lay on the ground).
What Type of Trellis is Best?
When choosing the perfect support to grow your cucumbers vertically, there are several things that you must consider.
Height — Cucumber vines can get long, so think about size. Between four to six feet tall is perfect for your trellis height. Make sure the trellis is tall enough, so they have plenty of space, but aren’t so tall that you can’t reach the fruits on top.
Strength — The vertical structure you choose for trellising cucumbers must be strong enough to hold their weight. The vines are lightweight, but they will fast become heavy once the fruits mature.
Airflow — Make sure the support you choose is open enough, so the vines aren’t kept packed together. Good aeration will prevent fungal diseases from occurring. Plus, they are much easier to maintain and harvest when spaced out.
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Cucumber Trellis Ideas
There are many options to choose from, so get creative with them. You can use any vertical support, but finding new ideas is always fun. Here are a few trellis ideas.
Straight trellis — Most people like to use a traditional-style trellis, which could be tall and straight, or a fan type.
A-frame — To make harvesting much more accessible, try using an A-frame so your crops will hang down. Beautiful!
Lean-to — These also work great, plus they allow you to grow stuff underneath them, making it an excellent choice for small gardens.
Arch — An arch makes for a creative and attractive trellis that uses irregular spaces well.
How To Grow Cucumbers on a Trellis
Your trellis must be implemented when your cucumber plants are about four to six inches tall. The bottom of the framework should be secured firmly into the soil to ensure it stays put.
Cucumber plants produce long tendrils that you will need to wrap around the trellis as the vine grows. Weave the vine in and out of the framework as it grows. This will provide adequate support for heavy cucumbers once the plant starts producing. The vines will still try to sprawl out vertically, so you must check on them regularly.
You can tie the vines onto the trellis using twine or something similar. Make sure you secure them very loosely, however. If you do it too tight, the vine could strangle itself when it grows thicker.
Cucumbers need a minimum of five to six hours of full sunlight daily. Pick a sunny location with a clear four to six feet of overhead space to accommodate your trellis.
Soil — Cucumbers love loose soil, rich in organic matter and with a pH between 5.5-7. Add plenty of compost or organic matter to the growing medium to boost it.
Water — Cucumbers have a high-water content, so it is essential to water the plant thoroughly. The cucumber plant needs water if the topsoil feels a bit dry to the touch. To prevent overwatering, check the soil before you water.
Mulch — Dry spells of weather can harm your cucumber plants. To prevent the soil from drying out too quickly, mulch around the base of the plant. Mulching will also help deter weeds.
Growing cucumbers on a trellis is easy and there are many great benefits. Not only will trellising cucumbers save a ton of space in your garden, but your plants will also be healthier, tastier, better looking, and grow more abundantly with less waste.
Written by Rich Hamilton | Writer, Consultant, Author of The Growers Guide
Rich Hamilton has been in the hydroponics industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a general manager in a hydroponics retail outlet before becoming an account manager at Century Growsystems. He enjoys working on a daily basis with shop owners, manufacturers, distributors, and end users to develop premium products.