Some vegetables and fruiting plants can stand on their own. Others need support. By providing durable supports for your plants to lean and climb on, you’ll be able to:
- Conserve space and fit more plants into your garden
- Encourage good air circulation and dry leaves, which helps to discourage pests and disease
- Lift fruit toward the sunlight for ripening
- Make crops easier to harvest
- Add beauty and visual interest to the garden
There’s no need to go out and buy expensive supports at the garden center. It’s possible to make durable supportive devices out of simple materials. You can also upcycle household items to add character and intrigue to your garden. Before you start building supportive devices, it’s important to understand when to install them and which plants need them.
The Supporting Role
When you’re watering tiny seedlings, it’s hard to remember they’ll soon be sprawling plants with heavy fruit. But that’s when you should install your supports. Plants grow quickly, and you don’t want to miss your opportunity. Plus, early supports help train plants to grow upward and prevent damage and disease. Ideally, introduce supports when you transplant your starts outside. Or if you grow plants from seed, install them after you thin the seedlings.
Always err in favor of providing too much support. Flimsy structures collapse under heavy plants. Moreover, tall supports can dramatically increase crop yields by allowing plants more space to grow. But be sure to design supports that make your job easier. You don’t want to drag out a ladder or squeeze yourself into a hard-to-reach place to harvest produce; keep produce as easily accessible as possible. To determine which supports are best for different plants, it’s helpful to understand how they grow.