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Living trellises.

 
jeremiah bailey
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I'm interested in planting my own trellises. I've read that corn makes a great trellis for legumes and smaller curcubitas such as cucumbers. However it apparently doesn't do well with tomatoes. Has anyone used tall, stalky plants to form trellises? I've also seen sunflowers tied together like a tepee used as a trellis.
 
Leah Sattler
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I tried the three sisters once. I didn't think it worked out so well.  I have all but given up on growing corn because of the corn worms. I can see where sunflowers would have great potential for something like that! and they are trouble free......at least for me in this area.

I have heard of growing pumpkins and grapes into your fruit trees.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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A local garden I've volunteered for uses sunflower in a modified 3 sisters, and it works great.  I've also seen lots of climbing vines on palm tree trunks.
 
Brenda Groth
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living trellises wokr OK..but i find that more sturdy platns work best for them..like trees and shrubs..rather than tender plants..

i live in an area of a lot of natural woods..and the trees and shrubs support a large number of vines..some of the trees are dead but most are alive..there are clematis, grapes, nightshade, woodbine, and  bittersweet growing up lots of the trees along the roads i walk on daily..and there are vines growing up my trees too, including those and ivy.

i honestly find my best trellises are lattice and wooden fences..which will be there permanently for your annuals or perennials..also tomatoes can be made to hold each other up if they are woven back and forth..we did that this year..weaving the taller climbers through each other..but i still think they do better if they are tied to one tall stake..


I have also read that there are problems with tomato blight some areas this year....but mine have not one single blemish on them anywhere..they are the most perfect tomatoes i have ever grown....they are completely inside of a greenhouse
 
Jeremy Stocks
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On our rented plot this summer I planted a bed for the children to look at with flowers. I also tried 3 sisters too. Here's my experiences:

I planted a bed with sunflowers and sweet peas, with calendula at the bottom. It was successful but only because the stalks of the sunflower were very strong - almost an inch thick as it is quite an exposed site. I used variety "King Kong" seed - hope you can get that in the US. What was lovely was that the nitrogen fixing sweet peas grew into the thicket beautifully and weaved in and out, and they smelled lovely. So you may want to try that idea.

The 3 sisters I have tried before but it all ends up 1 sister!. The corn didnt grow very well, the weeds grew in between, and the pumpkin never got to any size. So I reckon a sunflower stalk in the middle is the way to go, but only if it'sa thick stalked variety.
 
Brenda Groth
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da## coons ate my corn as it was just startijng to tassel out ! squash doing fine..beans are done and i just today canned the last of them and pulled up the vines.
 
jeremiah bailey
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Thanks everybody. I think I might pick a rather stout stemmed sunflower to try it out next year. I don't know if I'll do corn again, as we get very superb corn locally grown all season at the markets. While there is more than corn here in Indiana, the corn sure is damned good! I'm still undecided there.

If the sunflower is not stout enough alone as a trellis, then I could supplement it with stakes, but fewer and thinner than I'd otherwise need.
 
Brenda Groth
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here sunflowers won't work for trellises as we get this monstrous mutiple heads on our sunflowers here..and they then tend to fall over on their own weight..but they might work in Indiana..

i was shocked at the multiple heads we have had the past 7 years on our sunflowers..i mean like as many as 50 and 60 on some at least 7 or 8 on most.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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60 heads?    That goes beyond Marvel Comics territory and starts encroaching on old mythologies...

I bet a pyramid or tepee arrangement would help them not to fall over, and might even be stable enough to allow for trellising in addition.

The work I've seen has been with a tripod of relatively slender-stalked sunflowers.
 
jeremiah bailey
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There are different varieties of sunflower, some of which are multi-headed. They're called floribundas if I recall correctly. I think those might be the ones you're growing Brenda. The ones I grow are single headed, although I hear that if you cut the flower head off at a certain time, it will cause the stalk to send off several replacement heads. I planted mine late in the season, so they're rather small this year. Next year I plan on hunting down a variety that has thick stalks and grows 7-8 ft, plus. The design I'm thinking of would be like a garden arbor, but framed with sunflowers, and maybe a stake or two to help support. The sunflowers would be in two rows, about 4 ft apart. 4 or 5 sunflowers from each row opposing each other would be trained to cross in a point like a tepee. Each end of the row would be open, so you could potentially walk through the arrangement for picking veggies, as the sunflowers mature.

Another idea I have is utilizing a living willow hut for a trellis. You could plant your veggies around the perimeter, and train them up the hut. I think that might work better for heavier vines like squash or other heavy vining plants. I think it'd be great to see a living hut covered in pumpkins.

Brenda, I'm kind of intrigued by your tomato weaving technique. How do you do that?
 
Leah Sattler
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as a child we had a large arbor over the patio. as I recall the lower parts of the vines were had very little foliage. it could easily done double duty as a place to grow smaller annual climbing vines.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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