I ogle the gardening catalogs every year and not just for the flowers, plants, and vegetables. It’s the lure of the XL Pro Series cage, cucumber and pea trellis kit, and pea fences that have me wanting to whip out the credit card. While cages and trellises make for a tidy looking garden, they serve a greater purpose.
It’s easy to just plant and go. Doing so allows vegetables to sprawl across your garden au natural and can produce plenty. In spite of being easy and plentiful, this method increases the chances of damage to your crops from slugs. The risk of disease also increases because of the direct contact with the ground. Rot is more likely as well. This is where staking or adding a cage or trellis makes a difference.
Let’s start with stakes. They are easy and cost effective. Simply put, a stake is an upright rod. They can be made of wood, plastic, metal, or bamboo. Avoid chemically treated wood. Stakes are ideal for tall single stemmed plants, multi-stemmed plants, and those that have a tendency for leaning. Remember the ties that bind. It’s important you use something that is soft and flexible. I have used old panty hose. Twine, nursery tape, and raffia work well too. Adhere in a figure eight pattern for best results.
Dahlias, delphinium, gladiolas and lilies may benefit from staking. Stakes are easy, but they are not as flexible as a
A trellis is a mesh-like wood, metal, or plastic upright wall behind the plant. Others are more cage-like and may be made of nylon mesh or hog wire. The benefits include better air circulation which is good for the plants, and more light and heat which will help in the ripening process. Beans, raspberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pole beans, and peas will benefit from trellis/cage support. You will likely have to train your trellis to help your plants along to take hold and grow.
The additional benefit of staking and caging is an earlier harvest, bigger produce, and the ease of harvesting. Gone are the days of the mini scavenger hunt sorting through the foliage to find your tomatoes, cukes, and more. While it takes a little extra time, adding support to your garden is a good idea. Remember, your plants are at stake.