Train Your Veggies Vertically
To grow crops upward, make sure you choose the vining types of beans and peas, not the bush varieties. Not all tomatoes need vertical support. Some are naturally low and bushy. The vining indeterminate types of tomato will need all the support you can provide; these include popular varieties such as cherry, ‘Early Girl’, and most heirlooms. XX need to clear photosXXXX
An arbor can create a glamorous entry to a vegetable garden. It should be at least 8 feet tall, and you need to cover it with a mighty vining plant, such as gourds, pole beans, or scarlet runner beans. This classic arbor, made of copper by Sycamore Creek, is almost 9 feet tall; $695 (http://www.sycamorecreek.com/arbors.html).
Cherry tomatoes and other vining or indeterminate (just keep growing) varieties demand major support – have you seen the Texas Tomato Cage designed for Texas-size tomatoes? For most gardens and tomato plants, simple funnel-shape galvanized wire cages work well. For a classier look, and sturdier support, look for cages in bright colors by Glamos Wire Products (http://www.glamoswire.com/lawn_and_garden/plant_supports/index.html).
Los Angeles artist and landscape designer Jennifer Asher has taken the traditional tuteur up a notch with a contemporary, brightly colored version made of stainless steel. It’s fun and functional in a vegetable garden – with or without plants growing on it. The Akoris tuteur is 6 feet tall, in green, berry, eggplant, and other colors; $400. (http://www.terratrellis.com/products/akoris-garden-tuteur)
A tuteur brings a touch of Versailles history and formality into a garden. In the shape of a four-legged pyramid or obelisk, it is a traditional support for climbing edibles (peas, beans, cucumbers). You have many materials and sizes from which to choose. This is a relatively small tuteur, about 5 feet tall, made of cedar, with a metal cap, available from White Flower Farm, $129 (http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/56843-product.html#).
With a look that is functional and agrarian, a simple old-fashioned teepee does a nice job of supporting climbing pole beans or peas. This one consists of three bamboo poles, 6-feet long or so, tied at the top with twine. The teepee is in a garden created by Seattle Urban Farm Co. (http://www.seattleurbanfarmco.com/), which serves “urban agriculture enthusiasts.” The company’s co-founders, Colin McCrate and Brad Halm, have a new book, Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard that includes other training ideas.