Five Reasons To Grow Cucumbers On A Trellis (And Taking Up Less Space Isn’t One Of Them)

5 Reasons to Grow Cucumbers on a Trellis - An Oregon Cottage

Do you grow cucumbers on a trellis or let them sprawl on the ground?

Even if you have lots of room in your garden and are not trying to “Square Foot Garden,” there are a number of reasons to grow cucumbers up instead of out:

  1. The plants are easier to water at the main stem, which keeps the plant leaves drier (this is recommended to help keep fungal diseases at bay).
  2. The fruit is easier to harvest. They are hanging nearer to eye level and are easier to spot, plus the prickly stems and leaves are neatly confined so the risk of getting all scratched up is minimized (this is the biggest benefit in my book!).
  3. The fruit is cleaner when it doesn’t touch the dirt.
  4. The fruit is a uniform color (no light spots where they rested on the ground).
  5. The fruit is straighter, with less misshapen ones.

All this is in addition to the smaller footprint needed to grow a large number of cucumbers.

Are you convinced? There are just a few things you’ll need to do differently to grow cucumbers up instead of out.

1. First you’ll need a trellis of some sort. I’ve found that an A-Frame trellis made out of 1″ x 2″ boards (like the one pictured above that Brian made for me this year- it folds down for easy storage!) or bamboo poles work the best. They can be grown up a single trellis, but it will need to be secured more than normal to be ready for the full-sized plants loaded with fruit.

2. Second, you’ll need to train the plants up the string (or fencing, or whatever you use) during the growing season. This is not difficult- it takes about five minutes as you’re working or harvesting in the garden. Just wind the plants around the string one or two times and they will take it from there.

Oh, and don’t you love the watch? It’s my super stylish dollar-store watch that helps keep me on task in the garden. I’m known for losing track of time. I’ll go out to do a few things for an hour at 11:00 am and before I know it, it’s 2:00 pm, and I’m thinking: “No wonder my stomach was growling…”

Which, come to think of it, is much better than Brian coming out to ask me, “Didn’t you have a dentist appointment?” Ugh. Definitely. Need. The. Watch.

3. These two things (trellis and training) are really the only things you have to do, but I think using a soaker hose is a really smart idea. It waters right where you need it, doesn’t get lots of water on the plants, and waters deeply. I turn this hose on for about 2-1/2 hours once a week (every 5 days if it’s really hot) and my plants are growing great guns.

These baby cucumbers were growing on the plants in the top photo about two weeks ago. This is a variety bred to produce fruit even when it’s cool (Agnes Cucumber), so they were pumping out the fruit before the regular pickling cukes had even bloomed. I pick these tiny for cornichon pickles, but they are also good as a small regular dill pickle.

The very first pickles will be on the bottom (like the picture above shows), and thus a bit dirty, but once the plants grow up the trellis, the fruit will be able to be picked like this:

Just reach in a pluck a uniform, fully colored cucumber like I did today!

And as they grow taller (this is two weeks later than the picture at the beginning of the post) you might not even have to stoop to pick the fruit!

Can you tell I really like growing cucumbers this way?

Do you grow cukes on a trellis? Why or why not?

This is linked to Outdoor Wednesday.

Comments

  1. I like this Idea, this is nice. I was thinking to make some kind of trellis, I just bought some sticks the other day at the garden center. Maybe I can make a smaller version. I don’t have but a few cucumber plants. Are bad weather hasn’t done them any good.,…thanks for sharing. Have a lovely day.

  2. I always grow mine up on something. This year, I have them on a metal trellis. They were just getting some babies coming when all of a sudden the plants started wilting. And now the leaves are turning brown and crispy. And I’m pretty sure all my babies will perish. I have NO idea what happened. :o(

    • Sometimes the metal can heat up too much in the sun and burn the plants. I try to avoid metal for trellises if I can. This year for trellises I am using poles that I cut from a friend’s wood lot and jute twine.

  3. I wonder if the metal gets too hot and fries the leaves? I picked beans into a metal bowl the other day and it got toasty quick in the sun.

    Love your cucumber trellis, Jami.

    Also, I do picasa on my mac… they have a version just for people like us:)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mine grow right up the chain link fencing. Makes that fence much prettier in my book!

  5. I started this year growing them up our stockade privacy fence after I’d attached some mesh w/chicken wire sized openings on it. It’s working out great! I’ll never grow “bush” cukes again.

  6. Great idea. And great ideas from the previous commenters too! I’m going to keep all the ideas in mind for when we move next year and I can actually have a garden again!

    Thanks for all the gardening posts. I love em.

  7. I’ve been doing this for years….. great minds think alike :)

  8. I am so happy to have found this blog. I have several jars of baby garlic dills in the fridge now. I am going to ask hubby to make me a fold up trellis like this. I am just wondering how far apart the twine ( is it twine?) is spaced? Thanks for all the great info!! Tami….in White Salmon WA.

  9. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Tami- I’m so happy you found the blog, too. :-)

    I didn’t measure when I was putting the twine up (and yes, it’s compostable twine that I can cut down in the winter and just toss into the compost with the vines), just wrapped it around the top and bottom wood pieces evenly. I’d guess maybe 4 to 5 inches?

  10. Do you find benefit in watering for so long once a week? We run our soakers for I think 25 min every day (it’s really dry here in CO).

  11. I’ve never tried cukes on a trellis – but you have convinced me that I need to try it. Yours looks like a magazine picture!
    Gina

  12. I might just try that next year.

  13. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Lauren S- I’ve always read that long, deep soaking encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil where it’s cooler and more moist. Frequent, light watering encourages a lot of roots at the soil level that produces a weaker plant dependent on frequent watering. These plants stress easily when a day is missed, etc.

    Since it’s certainly easier for me to water less frequently, I find it easy to follow this advice. :-)

  14. This is a fantastic trellising system–I may have to give this style a try next year! And I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Agnes cuke at the end of the season–if they taste good and produce well. If they will grow in colder summers, I will definitely have to give them a try, especially if they taste great.

  15. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Athena- Well, I can already tell you a few things: the “Agnes” cuke replaced “Cool Breeze” in the Territorial catalog and I had grown and loved Cool Breeze for years. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference- but they liked it better, so maybe it produces more? The really are different looking that a regular pickler- more spines, but smaller and clear; a darker green; and you can use them at a very small stage.

    Brian loves cucumbers and eats these without peeling- he says they are sweet with no bitterness, even with the skin (which smooths out with washing- and of course like reg. pickling cukes, are smooth after pickling…).

    I always grow one row of this cucumber, and one row of regular- hedging my bets, sorta! -and the Cool Breeze/Agnes always starts producing sooner and usually produces more.

    Hope that helps!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE THIS. I have been growing mine close to the ground and last year was a total bust. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the wonderful information!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is there any other plants that would grow on a trellis like this?

    • Sure! Beans, of course, and lots of people grow melons or small pumpkins on trellises – when they get big they create a “sling” for them out of old nylons or such. I would think a cherry tomato would do well on a trellis like this. Basically, anything that grows on a vine.

  18. Like the trellis!! Did you plant a few hills of cucumbers or spread the plants out across the length of the trellis? Just trying to determine if I want to plant typical hills or space them out across the bottom of the trellis. Planting straight eights!!

  19. LindaSonia says:

    Cucumber vines usually grow a mile long… so what do you do with the vines when they reach the top?!?!?

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  1. [...] I have never grown cucumbers on a trellis, but I just might after reading these 5 reasons why I should. [...]

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