Edible

When we think of climbing plants, we often picture flowering climbers such as wisteria and jasmine, but there are some vegetables with a climbing habit too. Climbing plants have the great advantage that, by the sheer nature of their vertical growth, they take up less space in the garden. Remember though, that climbers have a lot of above-ground growth, so their roots need some extra care. Prepare the soil before planting by digging in plenty of organic matter (well aged manure or compost). Make sure that the soil drains effectively. Mulch around the base of the plant so that roots stay cool and moist.


Productive plants are especially hungry, so feed regularly with a good quality fertiliser. Yates Thrive Fish Blood & Bone Plant Food Concentrate is a good one to use.

When it comes to providing supports for your climbing vegies, there are endless choices. Fortunately, because most vegies are annuals, the support doesn’t have to be there for keeps. Smaller plants will grow happily on a tepee or tripod made of bamboo stakes. Star pickets can create a stronger and more permanent climbing framework. Something as simple as a few horizontal wires attached to a fence may be sufficient but, if the fence reflects the heat, make sure you leave an air gap between the wires and the wall.

Plastic mesh or lattice can be purchased ready to go. One easy suggestion is to shape and tie the wire or plastic mesh into a cylinder with a diameter that’s broad enough for the climbing plants to scramble up and through. Old wooden stepladders and fencing panels can look picturesque but they tend to be weighty, so make sure they are well anchored.

 

Which climbing vegies?

Climbing snow peas are happiest when they’re grown in spring or autumn. Sow seeds direct into pots or a garden bed next to a support the plants can climb onto. Even a teepee made from bamboo will be strong enough. Sugarsnap Pea is another climber that develops slightly fuller pods. Like snow peas, the pods can be eaten whole.

Some members of the cucurbit family will happily climb, but only if the fruit doesn’t get too big. A giant pumpkin would weigh its support down, but small cucumbers such as Cucumber Lebanese will happily scramble up a fence, trellis or teepee. Use soft ties to attach the plant to vertical wires or similar supports.

Many cherry tomatoes – such as Tomato Small Fry Hybrid – grow on sprawling plants that do well next to a fence or wall. The reflected warmth encourages the tomatoes to ripen and extends the cropping season.

Climbing spinach (Basella alba), also known as Malabar spinach or Ceylon spinach is a tropical twiner that can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Plants will produce seeds in late summer that can be sown in the next spring. Feed and water well to encourage rapid growth. Pick leaves often and use as you would fresh spinach.


Related products

Cucumber 'Lebanese'

This time-honoured variety produces heavy crops of short, sweet-flavoured cucumbers that are low in acid. Crisp, pale flesh with tiny seeds.

Cucumber Lebanese (Organic)

This popular variety produces heavy crops of sweet-flavoured cucumbers that are mild and low in acid. Eat skin and all.

Tomato 'Small Fry' Hybrid

Masses of sweet, bite-sized fruit on every plant. Spectacular in summer salads & antipasto, grilled, chopped into salsa, skewered on kebabs or as juicy treats for kids.


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