Trellises in the Garden

Trellises allow you to keep your plants off the ground in the garden while taking advantage of growing vertically.


Peppers are staked with alternating tomato cages, you know, the small 3-ring ones you can buy at a hardware store. The peppers are planted with a 1′ spacing. I stake every other pepper plant because I don’t have enough cages and because this has worked just fine in the past.

Cantaloupe and Cucumbers

The cantaloupe and cucumbers are also planted next to cattle panels for support. I have never grown cucumbers on the ground and I very rarely allow the cantaloupe to touch the ground either. The plants seem to do so much better with good air flow, not to mention the added benefit of keeping ants out of my melons.


For the determinant tomato varieties, I like to use our 4′ tall homemade field-wire tomato cages. For the indeterminant tomatoes, I love to use cattle panels. The panels were originally 16′ long. I cut them in half and turn them sideways, so each trellis is 8′ tall and 4′ wide. I secure the trellises with T-posts. As the tomatoes grow, I weave their main stems through the panel.

It’s always tricky deciding where to put my tall crops, like the 8′ tomato trellises. Usually you don’t want to shade the other plants, and you have to keep in mind things like crop rotation. I will spend a day in January making a plan for where everything needs to go. This helps me decide how many seeds to plant for transplants, and also makes the big spring planting day go much smoother. It’s always fun to experiment each year with different ideas and “garden theories.” I pay careful attention to planting dates, close spacing on the plants, and keeping an eye on pests.