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Growing garden plants on a living trellis (other garden plants)

 
garden master
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I've had a lot of success growing garden plants on other plants as a living and natural trellis.

Plants that I've used as a trellis are sunflowers, corn, and even some types of weeds.

Plants that I've grown on them include cucumbers and beans.

The plants can benefit from growing in a polyculture, maximizing sunlight by growing higher, reducing the work of setting up other types of trellis, and shading and minimizing weeds!

What plants have you grown like this? Have you had any really good combination of plants growing together like this?

 
gardener
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Steve Thorn wrote:I've had a lot of success growing garden plants on other plants as a living and natural trellis.

Plants that I've used as a trellis are sunflowers, corn, and even some types of weeds.

Plants that I've grown on them include cucumbers and beans.

The plants can benefit from growing in a polyculture, maximizing sunlight by growing higher, reducing the work of setting up other types of trellis, and shading and minimizing weeds!

What plants have you grown like this? Have you had any really good combination of plants growing together like this?



The three sisters (corn, beans, squash); sunflowers, beans, basil, tarragon; tomatoes, peppers, melons.
 
Steve Thorn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The three sisters (corn, beans, squash); sunflowers, beans, basil, tarragon; tomatoes, peppers, melons.



Which plant do you grow melons on?
 
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I use various varieties of cheap mustard seed as a cover crop (ala Gertrud Franck) - for shade, mulch, food.
They have a shallow non-aggressive rooting habit, but are extremely hardy and don't mind being smothered by viney plants.
Most of them get pulled out as more valuable volunteers and sowed-seed germinates amongst them.
Leaving a sturdy one to go to seed next to a bean plant, as a trellis, gives a double harvest of veg as well as benefiting pollinators and your seed bank.

I also grow the very vigorous 'tree lettuce' that has thick stems over a metre tall, both in and around the borders of my garden - these can hold up beans, tomatos, peppers.
 
Steve Thorn
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Jondo Almondo wrote:I use various varieties of cheap mustard seed as a cover crop (ala Gertrud Franck) - for shade, mulch, food.
They have a shallow non-aggressive rooting habit, but are extremely hardy and don't mind being smothered by viney plants.



Awesome, I like let my cucumbers grow over some random weeds sometimes, and it's nice that it keeps them off the ground.

Most of them get pulled out as more valuable volunteers and sowed-seed germinates amongst them.
Leaving a sturdy one to go to seed next to a bean plant, as a trellis, gives a double harvest of veg as well as benefiting pollinators and your seed bank.

I also grow the very vigorous 'tree lettuce' that has thick stems over a metre tall, both in and around the borders of my garden - these can hold up beans, tomatos, peppers.



Very neat!
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:The three sisters (corn, beans, squash); sunflowers, beans, basil, tarragon; tomatoes, peppers, melons.



Which plant do you grow melons on?




I think the melons and squash in this system usually grow on the ground in between the rows
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Steve, melons and squashes are used as the ground covering planting.
But they will grow up a sunflower stalk if you let them and then you have to create a hammock for the melon to grow in so they don't pull down the stalk.
I keep the melon vines on the ground by training them to grow around the other plants.
 
Steve Thorn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Steve, melons and squashes are used as the ground covering planting.
But they will grow up a sunflower stalk if you let them and then you have to create a hammock for the melon to grow in so they don't pull down the stalk.
I keep the melon vines on the ground by training them to grow around the other plants.



Neat
 
Steve Thorn
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Sometimes I let my cucumbers run along the ground as a ground cover and then on to other sturdy plants since the cucumbers are usually pretty lightweight when I harvest them and don't pull down the trellis plant.

I've found it's been a good combination of letting my cucumbers run along the ground a little and then also climb up on a trellis plant, since it'll put out new roots along the part of the vine on the ground and the trellising part gets extra sunlight and the cucumbers are easier to find and pick!
 
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I have only grown beans on a heavily pruned cherry tree.

In the Philippines I saw beans, squash, bitter gourd, loofah and other unidentified things going up heavily pruned forage trees. Some trees are grown as forage for cattle sheep and goats. They are quick growing nitrogen fixers. The foliage is hacked back regularly, so that the amount of sun getting to the food crops can be managed. Many things don't want to roast in the tropical Sun, but then when it's time for ripening, there's an advantage to getting more light on it. So you feed the goats a little more at that time.

There's a dry season. When grass is in short supply, the forage trees can be harvested more heavily, and this exposes the ripening melons or beans to more sun. After these crops ripen, all of the vines can be ripped down and fed to the animals. This gives the forage trees a chance to recover. Grass and other ground cover puts on New Growth within a couple days of rain, so when the rainy season begins, the forage trees are allowed time to recover.
 
Steve Thorn
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This cucumber is growing up goldenrod.

The goldenrod attracted a lot of pollinators and beneficial insects last year when it bloomed in late summer/early fall, and it seemed to really help with pollination and pests for the cucumbers and other garden plants during that time of the year.

It makes the cucumbers easier to see and find too, as they can camouflage so well on the ground and hide under other things!
Cucumber-plant-growing-up-a-goldenrod-flower-natural-trellis.jpg
Cucumber plant growing up a goldenrod flower natural trellis
Cucumber plant growing up a goldenrod flower natural trellis
 
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You can grow most any vining squash on a trellis.  Tromboncino is a fun one to keep off the ground as they get very long that way.
Squash bugs are much easier to find and squish on a trellis.

Cucumber is much easier to harvest trellised.

I learned the hard way - an arched or "A" framed trellis is much easier to harvest and weed under if it is tall enough to walk under.
 
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I grow in raised beds, so this year I restructured my raise bed to do corn.  I read about the 3 sisters, and also added sunflowers.  This isn't working very well for me. First I didn't know I need to plant my corn two or three weeks before my beans.  I had trouble starting my corn, maybe I started too early?  It's been years since I grew corn but always considered it an easy crop, but not this year, weather, raised bed instead of the ground, combination of plants, I don't know but I planted three time, before I got corn.  So the beans grew faster then the corn, thank goodness for the sunflowers to give the beans something to climb on.  That part worked beautiful the sunflowers grew tall and beautiful and the beans are happy and producing too.  Usually I have sooooo much zucchini I end up giving away to my fram, and the ones I don't get in time the chickens enjoy, but this year they are far and few in-between.  I think maybe not enough sun, maybe not getting pollinated?  The bed is about 4'X15' I planted corn, climbing beans, sunflowers, zucchini, yellow squash, a few borage, and marigolds.  This is a tried and true pairing, but I wont do it this way next year.    
 
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i keep last season's okra stalks to grow winter peas on. Works a charm. I cant seem to get all Three Sisters to grow at the same time, otherwise I would do that all at once.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The three sisters have different plant dates so they shouldn't all grow at the same time. The corn goes in first then a few weeks later the beans are planted then a few weeks after that, the squash is planted.
 
Tereza Okava
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I can't seem even get them to grow during the same season in the same bed, unfortunately. Maybe one of these years I'll get it right. (last year, the corn had to be replanted twice because of rain issues. Squash came in and did fine, but only early squash like spaghetti, the rest molded right away. if it isn't one thing it's another)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Indeed, this year is a sort of "year of reckoning" we are being shown what to expect in the coming years I think.

I have found that if you want to plant corn in straw bales you have to start it as a transplant otherwise the roots don't get roots set deep enough in the bale to keep them upright.

If they all won't grow in the same soil, it might be a mineral defect or it could be a fungal defect (there are exomycorrhizae that love to work with corn roots).

For many of the vegetables you need to make sure bales are well on the way to decomposing (internally composting) before you plant your transplants.
For seeds, an 8 inch deep trench or hole, filled with good soil will help the seeds sprout and nourish the plants as they grow their roots out into the bales.

We had one soil based raised bed that never did any good for us, I simply couldn't get the biology right or stable enough in that one spot, it is now grass.

Redhawk
 
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We had some peas (frequently cooked with rice here) sprouting in the fridge, so I put three of them at the base of each of my 3 papaya trees ranging from 1-3 feet tall. They seem to be happy there so far, and I'm hoping the papaya will serve as a trellis while the peas cool the ground and provide nitrogen.
 
Priscilla Stilwell
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I'm experimenting with this. I have a bougainvillea going up one of our prolific, thorny shade trees. That is an experiment. Seems to be working out so far.

Now I've got peas planted around my papaya, and everyone seems happy.

I have black oil sunflower seeds coming so I can grow more bunny food, and I plan to try beans and peas on those too, kinda a 3 sisters thing. I'm curious about planting yam at the bottom of a papaya. Not sure how the roots would compete if at all?
 
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I read this post ages ago and have been climbing plants over each other ever since :) Here are my sugar snaps making use of a cranberry hibiscus which goes spindly in the winter.
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Dale Hodgins
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This is the most amazing example of growing garden plants in another one that I've seen. Onions and lettuce growing on a living banana stem in Malaysia. They do this after the bananas are harvested and the stem would otherwise be cut down.
IMG-20190917-WA0004.jpg
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IMG-20190917-WA0006.jpg
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