Square foot gardening, or gardening that utilizes above-ground boxes with a grid and 1-foot sections inside, can be used to grow larger plants. Depending on the size and weight of the plants, different types of support can be used. Here are some considerations when choosing the right type of support for bigger plants.
Using Nylon Netting For Square Foot Gardening
One simple method for supporting larger vegetables is nylon netting attached to either PVC piping or electrical conduit supports. Tomatoes, cucumbers, pole, snap, lima or Roma beans, some melons, Acorn squash and butternut squash can be grown with this method.
Depending on the placement of the plants in the garden, supports and netting can be situated along one side, two sides or in the center. The nylon netting comes in 5-foot by 15-foot lengths with a 7-inch reach through the mesh. The bottom of the netting should be 1 to 2 feet off the ground, allowing the top to reach 6 to 7 feet. Individual plants can be secured to the netting, if desired, with velcro plant tape. Mesh plant support will usually last 5 to 6 years before deteriorating due to sunlight, or less time if not taken down in harsher winter months.
Steel Fence Posts As Supports
Border fence posts and panels, as well as steel fence posts, can be used as supports for larger plants and vegetables in square foot gardening. The key is to place the fencing along one or two sides of the box where the largest plants are growing, but still to permit access to the plants at the other sides.
Steel garden fence posts or border edging will hold plants such as dahlias, penstemmon, foxglove and the like, but not heavier vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes or melons. A single full-size steel fence post can be used to support any heavy plant. Simply drive it into the ground outside the box and attach the plant to it using jute twine, clothesline or velcro plant tape. Do not drive the post into the soil inside the box, as it will not reach sufficient depth to hold heavier and larger plants – and will destroy the box if punched through.
Trellis, Stake and Other Methods
Popular trellis arrangements are both decorative and functional, and available in cedar, copper, galvanized or wrought iron, vinyl or fiberglass. Sink trellis posts to a depth of 24 inches outside the garden and attach the plant to the trellis using protective velco plant tape, clothesline or twine. If all plants in the garden are large, or if a graduated number are from the center out, a pyramid trellis design may work best. For a solid line of large plants, use a single wall trellis.
Stakes can support individual large plants in square foot gardening. Choose a stake that’s sturdy enough to withstand heavy gusts of wind, and place to the outside of the box if the plant is large. Smaller stakes can be placed inside the box for individual plants.
Loop cones, steel cages and other supports also work well for individual plants and are inexpensive for use in square foot gardening.