Homemade Cucumber Trellis

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It is no secret we love cucumbers from the garden.  Last year I had in the neighborhood of 28 plants in the ground and we still ran out of pickles in January.  I will not make that mistake this year.  So I devised a number of homemade and recycled cucumber trellises to make sure our supply lasts a year.

I had a “To do” list with about 10 things on it that morning.  #1 was plant cucumbers.  By mid-afternoon I was 1 trellis short to complete planting the cucumbers and to exhausted to do numbers 2 thru 10 on the list.  I vastly underestimated the time it would take to construct and plant what turned out to be 78 cucumbers that day.  Oh well, one day of hard work for a years worth of wonderful cucumbers and pickles was certainly worth it.  It also gives me even more respect for the farmers that do this day in and day out.  I pick away at these projects on weekends and vacations.  I don’t know if I could hack it everyday!

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Onto my homemade cucumber trellis.  Em told me the swing was broken and had to go to the dump.   I saw an opportunity to use the frame and turn it into a trellis to support cucumbers.  Recycling what we have on hand is always my first choice!

I learned by my 3rd vegetable garden that cucumbers have to be grown vertically.  My first year I knew nothing and grew them on the ground and they came out swelled in spots, heavily bent, and with very low yield per plant.  My second year I read about growing cucumbers on trellises and proceeded to ignore that advice and grew them the same way and got the same results.  Learn the hard way twice, should be my motto.

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Year 3 I purchased some trellises and started using leftover pieces of hardwire cloth from our garden fence and have turned things around.  This year I am turning our old patio swing frame into a large cucumber trellis.  All I did to make frame was loop and tie dollar store twine around the frame both vertically and horizontally for support.  On the side with a supporting bar at the bottom I stuck twine into garden stakes and pushed all the way into ground.  In the interior frame I made a star pattern with twine from the side supporting rails and also used stakes to support in the ground.

cucumber trellis-3I left the middle open on one side so i will be able to reach inside to pick cukes.  I believe it will be strong enough and have enough support to hold all the cukes.  I was pretty serious about it, sometimes triple knotting it.  It will either be my crowning achievement in this years garden or my biggest failure.  Who knows with my track record at this point.

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I plant my cucumbers just like my tomatoes.  In (or sometimes around) landscape fabric.  I dig out a hole really deep and add compost directly into the hole and mix up.  Then put the seedling in and cover up the hole pressing down lightly.  Once everyone is in their new home they get a really good watering.

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I planted 30 cucumbers around this trellis.  It is 7 feet long by 4 feet wide.  28 square feet- I didn’t do the math before I started planting.  This is really tight spacing but I am counting on them growing vertically and being well mulched to offset the spacing.  Around this trellis I have 4 different varieties of cucumbers…

  1. 12 “Raider” cukes
  2. 12 “Little Leaf” cukes
  3. 3 “Sweeter Yet” cukes
  4. 3 “Straight 8” cukes

The Straight 8 cucumbers I started from seed the rest were purchased as seedlings.

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As if 30 cucumbers plants weren’t enough for one row I filled it out with 12 “Lemon” cukes.  Lemon cucumbers are a Norah favorite.  They are little round yellow cucumbers larger then a golf ball but smaller then a baseball.  She will pick them and just start eating them in the garden.  I certainly want to plant any vegetable a maniac will do that with!  Also Lemon cukes have always been a huge producer in the garden.  They just keep coming.  I am growing them in a double trellis pyramid.  I purchased these trellises years ago and I probably wouldn’t again (I would use hardwire cloth to make trellises now) but since I still have them I put them to work.

I plant 2 Lemon cukes on each side of the larger trellis and 1 on each side of the smaller trellis.  I drive the trellises into the ground and use a wooden stake as extra support.  I lost a pumpkin harvest, a few years ago, to these blowing over in the wind.

42 total plants in this row.  Already surpasses my 2014 planting considerably but I am not done yet…

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A second row of cucumbers this year to be sure of a bountiful harvest.  Using hardwire cloth shaped into a heart pattern and staked into the ground I planted 18 “Straight 8” cucumbers around it.

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Using 3 leftover tomato cages I planted 4 cucumbers around each.  8 “Straight 8” and 4 “Miniature White.”

Another scrap piece of wire was used to plant an additional 6 “Straight 8” cucumbers.  This was the point I crashed and burned for the day.

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The next morning I dug this little wooden ladder we got from an antique shop out of the shed.  I staked it to the ground and planted 6 more “Straight 8” cucumbers around it.  84 total cucumber plants in the ground.  27 were purchased as seedlings and 57 were started from seed.  I still have a half dozen or so seedlings in my greenhouse without a home yet, so the cucumber tally still might rise.

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As I finish writing this it is Friday night. My week of vacation for garden planting is almost over and I am very excited to show you the progress that has been made.  I am down to 8 beds left to plant, with most major projects out of the way.  I have been holding off planting Broccoli and Cabbage due to my garden nemesis “The Groundhog.”  I have had a trap out for over a week to catch these things but have not had any luck.  It had been 7 days since I saw one and was hoping someone else had taken care of the issue.  Alas, just as I was starting to let my guard down I saw one this afternoon on my neighbors lawn (not close to my trap).  I will continue to hold off as long as I can planting Broccoli and Cabbage until the situation is dealt with or I think I might lose the seedlings.

More garden progress coming soon.  Thanks for reading!


Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.