Spring Training

 Squash and Melons: The Trellis 

Uh, oh. Our squash and melons are now growing like mad with the warmer weather! I’ve been putting off finishing the trellis for weeks now with other things occupying my mind, but I realized this week that if I didn’t get it done soon, my plants would have nowhere to grow but into my tomatoes! Yikes! You may recall we started our trellis by making a tent shape out of three birch poles, which you can read about here. To finish it, we put in a few more supports through the middle, to make it stronger, and then stapled some chicken wire (leftover from our “keep-Winnie-in-the-backyard-” job) to the whole thing to make our “tent” complete. Hopefully this will allow our plants to climb up and out of the bed and then back towards the ground, serving as good support for anything that needs to grow! We have Butternut, Spaghetti and Marina de Chioggia squash planted, all of which can get pretty heavy and cause vines to break if not supported. Our melons are an orange tendersweet watermelon and a mini cantaloupe called Lil’ Loupe, also needing support to grow up and out of the raised bed. We’ll most likely have to create slings for some of them too, if they get too big and heavy. I think the watermelon can grow to around 30lbs! Maybe next year I should get a smaller variety….

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Tomatoes: The Florida Weave

Shoot, we also left staking our tomatoes a little late. To drive stakes into our plants now might result in root damage, and I really don’t want to risk it. I thought about buying cages for the plants as well, but have read that plants will often outgrow them, leaving you with few staking options. After some research I decided on the Florida Weave method (here’s a helpful diagram which can explain it better than I can). Basically, you push two long stakes into either end of your row of plants, and weave twine along the row, tied to each stake, to provide support as the plants grow. This will give light support to the plants, and is a cheap and relatively simple alternative to buying cages which will only support tomatoes until a certain size. Well, I love cheap and I love simple, so we got started with our plants!

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This picture doesn’t really show what we did very well, but you can see the stake at one end with twine tied to it, and it’s woven throughout the tomatoes and fastened to the stair rails. Since I took this picture a few days ago, we already need to add more levels of twine! It’s hot hot hot around here these days and my tomatoes are loving it.

“The federal government has sponsored research that has produced a tomato that is perfect in every respect, except that you can’t eat it. We should make every effort to make sure this disease, often referred to as ‘progress’, doesn’t spread.”
– Andy Rooney

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