Choosing to grow plants vertically can really benefit your garden. It saves space and keeps plants off the ground, making them less susceptible to certain insects and diseases. Growing plants vertically also makes harvesting easier.
Of course, there are a few things to be aware of when starting your vertical garden. For example, in order to set up supportive structures, you'll need more time and materials. And some plants with heavy fruit need extra support and tending. To help you get started we've put together a list of edibles you can grow vertically, and some ideas to make it happen.
Tomato cages aren't necessarily the most effective way to support your tomato plants as they grow. If you grow a lot of tomatoes, it makes providing a cage for each plant difficult. Cages also make pruning and harvesting a bit more cumbersome. Not to mention, many tomato varieties get much taller than the cages used to support them. Instead, try weaving them, like Modern Farmer suggests. Set up posts (wooden stakes, metal garden stakes, or rebar will all work), with heavy duty twine wrapped around them starting about a foot above the ground. As your tomatoes grow and get heavy, continue to circle the posts with twine, supporting the plants on either side.
Another option is to grow your tomatoes up a string. Vegetable Gardener provides a tutorial to create your own A-frame for this purpose. The idea is to wrap each tomato plant around a string as it grows, pruning it back along the way so there is only one leading stem. Although stringing your tomatoes up requires some extra work ahead of time, it offers a crop of tomatoes that is much easier to manage and harvest.
Cucumber plants take up a lot of space when allowed to sprawl along the ground. Get Busy Gardening created a very frugal and practical cucumber arch using garden stakes and sturdy garden fencing. There's also space beneath the arch to plant cool season crops, like lettuce and spinach.
Pole Beans and Peas
Bamboo stakes secured with twine in a teepee-like structure are perfect for creating trellises to support pole beans and peas, which are both light, fast growing plants. Make sure to plant along your trellis in successive plantings, as you'll be able to spread out your harvest over a greater part of the season. Get a trellis up in early spring to use for peas, and once the heat sets in, sow beans in their place.
Squash and Melons
Other vining plants, like summer squash, can also be trained to grow vertically. Create a sturdy trellis, and loosely (but securely) tie the plant to the trellis as it grows. Plants with heavier fruits, like winter squash, pumpkins, and watermelons can be grown vertically, but they will need extremely sturdy structures to grow on and their fruits may need additional support as well, like the fruit hammocks pictured above.
Vining plants are a no brainer when it comes to growing them vertically. But other plants, especially those with shallow root systems, can also be grown vertically. The major benefits of vertical gardens are maximizing space and minimizing damage from certain insects, such as slugs. On the downside, vertical gardens require more materials, like lumber, and more resources, like water. If you have a small garden space to work with though, it's beyond worth experimenting with vertical gardens.
If you've always wanted an herb garden, but are lacking space, try using a pallet. With a clean and sturdy pallet, landscape fabric, and some strong staples, you can create an herb garden using very little space. It could even be placed on a deck or porch, given that there's adequate sunlight. Be sure to use appropriate sized plants (try thyme, chives, parsley, rosemary, and calendula) for the space and check for water needs frequently. Check out DIY Enthusiasts' tutorial for some help.
Window boxes and gutter gardens
Window boxes or gutters attached to a fence, deck, or the side of a house can make great micro gardens for greens like lettuce and spinach. DIY Enthusiasts' provides another helpful tutorial to get started.
PVC pipe can work much like window boxes and gutters lined up against the side of a deck or house. However, you can also stand them up vertically, which is a popular method for growing strawberries. On the plus side, PVC pipe is relatively inexpensive and lightweight. To get started check out Craftsy's tutorial.