By: Heather Rhoades
A cucumber fence is fun and a space saving way to grow cucumbers. If you haven’t tried growing cucumbers on a fence, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. Read on to learn the benefits and how to grow cucumbers on a fence.
Cucumbers naturally want to climb, but, often in the home garden, we don’t provide any support and they sprawl on the ground. One of the greatest advantages of cucumber fences is the fact that they save a significant amount of space in the garden by allowing the cucumbers to follow their climbing nature.
When you grow cucumbers on a fence, you not only save space, but create a healthier environment for the cucumbers to grow. By planting cucumbers on a fence, there’s better airflow around the plant, which helps prevent powdery mildew and other diseases. Growing cucumbers on a fence also helps to hold them out of the reach of garden pests that may damage the fruit.
Having a cucumber fence also allows for more even sun on the cucumbers themselves, which means that the cucumbers will be more evenly green (no yellow spots) and less apt to rot due to damp conditions.
Typically, when creating cucumber fences, gardeners use an existing fence in their garden. The fence should be a wire type fence, like chain link or chicken wire. This will allow the tendrils on the cucumber vine to have something to hold onto.
If you don’t have an existing fence to make a cucumber fence, you can build one easily. Simply drive two posts or stakes into the ground at each end of row where you will be growing cucumbers. Stretch a section of chicken wire between the two posts and staple the chicken wire to the posts.
Once you have chosen or built the fence you will be using as a cucumber fence, you can start planting the cucumbers. When planting cucumbers on a fence, you’ll plant the cucumber at the base of the fence 12 inches (30.5 cm.) apart.
As the cucumbers start to grow, encourage them to grow up the cucumber fences by gently positioning the emerging vine on the fence. Once the cucumber vine starts to wrap its tendrils around the wire, you can stop helping it as it will continue to climb on its own.
Once fruit appears, you don’t need to do anything else. The vines are more than capable of supporting the weight of the fruit, but when you harvest the cucumbers, make sure to cut the fruit off rather than pull or twist it off as this may damage the vine.
Growing cucumbers on a fence is an excellent way to conserve space and grow better cucumbers.
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Read more about Cucumbers
Growing your own cucumbers is a wonderful way to provide yourself with an endless bounty of fresh, delicious pickles – or to simply fill up your lunchtime salads with extra crunch and fiber!
If you’ve ever grown cucumbers before, you probably know how important a good trellis is. Not only will it make picking and harvesting your cucumbers a lot easier, but it will help protect the cucumbers from rot, pests, and other damages.
Take your container gardening to the next level with this resourceful technique.
Kristen Eppich Updated June 3, 2012
One month into my rookie vegetable garden and I can report that if nothing else, becoming a gardener has a steep learning curve. I am happy to say that everything I planted from seed actually came up! This may seem obvious to some, but to me it’s a miracle.
After one month in the garden, here are some key things I learned:
Containers are your friend – How to grow cucumbers up the fence: Now that the time has come to get everything in the ground that is grown from plants (instead of seeds), I have decided to do as much container planting as possible. This includes, cucumbers up the fence! I have planted my cucumber plants into a large pot with triple mix and soil. I have the pot pushed up against the fence in a very sunny spot. As they go, I plan to train the cucumbers to climb – since they are a vine – up my fence for vertical growth. I am somewhat wary of the weight of the vegetables once they get large, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime – it’s a great space saver, rabbit proof, and fun! Also in pots are hot peppers, herbs and cherry tomatoes. Thanks to the hungry rabbits, I have a few blank spots in my garden to plant and stake my larger tomato plants.
Never call anything a “sure thing”: While beans, peas, carrots, and beets did come up as predicted – such reliable little plants – they were the first to be attacked by aggressive rabbits. After trying many remedies for this rabbit problem, including eco-friendly sprays (which I actually think the rabbits liked more) and human hair (which got me some raised eyebrows when requesting it from the hair salon), so far I can’t keep them away. The pea and bean harvest is looking fragile, carrots meek and beets…I’m hoping for one!
Pumpkin craze: One of the best reactions from all you kind souls out there was the warning I received about planting pumpkins – apparently they have a bit of a reputation for taking over a garden. Ironically, the rabbits have left the pumpkins alone and they are thriving. I luckily planted them along the edge of my garden, so hopefully I can tame the madness. If in fact they go pumpkin crazy, I have a plan B: It’s called fried pumpkin blossoms, my friends. Will keep you posted.
Don’t over seed your vegetable garden…with grass seed: Probably the shining moment of all has been the day I came home to see an overzealous neighbor “helping” bring back our neglected lawn by over-seeding it…including my freshly planted vegetable garden. Needless to say, there was nothing I could do short of handpicking about a million grass seeds out of my first-ever vegetable garden. My prized garden now resembles the patchy-haired noggin of a 9 month old – but hey, it doesn’t have to be pretty.
I look forward to hearing from all of you again. In the meantime, keep growing (sorry).
Originally published June 3rd, 2012.
There’s no better way to grow vining cucumbers than on a cucumber support. Without one, they’ll happily scramble over the ground but there are quite a few soil borne diseases that can affect the plants. Not to mention slugs and other critters that might want a taste. Growing cucumbers vertically also makes harvesting a treat since the fruit are easy to find and pick.
Though you can purchase a ready made cucumber support, it’s easy to make one yourself. All you need for this garden project is a heat-treated pallet, a couple of posts and baling twine.
Depending on where you are in the world, there are various fungi and viruses that affect cucumbers. One of my own challenges is downy mildew, a fungus that’s blown in with warm, damp winds. Keeping my plants off the ground with plenty of good air circulation is key to keeping it under control. The quicker that the leaves dry after a wet spell, the less likely that the fungus will take hold.
My pallet cucumber trellis helps with that since the plants are off the ground and have plenty of air around the leaves. It’s south-facing position means that it gets sun all day — a bonus for added growth and for drying those leaves quicker. Using a trellis can also help control powdery mildew, another fungus that affects cucumbers.
Planting the cucumber plants in June and how the trellis looks in August
As the cucumbers grow up the face of your trellis, their fruit hangs down. Can you see how easy it is to spot the cucumbers? Sometimes the fruit won’t drop down but will grow on top of the pallet’s slats. That can make it even easier to find and pick them.
A pallet is the perfect size for a couple of cucumbers to scramble over and the right size for harvesting. Squat at the open end and just reach inside for your cukes. If your plants were sprawling along the ground then you’d be even more bent over trying to find the fruit under masses of leaves.
Reach under from the open side to pick cucumbers
Another great reason to grow your cucumbers on an angled trellis is that you can have two crops in the same space. Since the cucumbers grow off the ground, that space underneath is perfect for growing greens. Lettuces, radishes, spinach, and oriental vegetables will appreciate the semi-shade and protection the trellis gives. At one time this year I had ten heads of lettuce growing under the cucumbers. Talk about maximizing gardening space!
You can grow a second crop underneath the cucumber trellis
You should also choose the right kind of pallet for this project. Many are heat-treated against insects but some are sprayed with an insecticide called Methyl bromide. It’s not something that we want anywhere near our food or the beneficial insects in our gardens.
Fortunately it’s easy to see how a pallet has been treated. Look for a stamp on the side and discard any pallets that have the letters ‘MB’. If you see ‘HT’ you’re good to go, since that means it’s been heat-treated. Ignore the letters DB — all that means is that the wood has been debarked.
Look for a pallet that’s been heat-treated
Now that I’ve convinced you that it’s a good idea to grow your cucumbers vertically, let’s get building. If you’ve not already guessed from looking at the photos, I built my trellis by first digging two posts in the ground 18″ deep. They’re square posts about 3×3″ and about three feet tall from soil level. They’re dug in so that the pallet can sit level on the edges of both. I didn’t use a spirit level to make sure that the posts were the same height but you could if you wanted to.
Next I propped the pallet against the posts and then lashed them on with baling twine. I chose baling twine because it won’t degrade in the sun like natural string will do. Over a summer, natural fibre string can break down in uv light and becomes easier to snap.
The reason I used twine instead of screwing it together is that this is not going to be a permanent structure. At the end of the season I can cut the twine and move the pallet someplace else. I really do like quick, easy, and effective garden solutions.
Cucumbers will also grow on top of the pallet trellis
When you build your pallet cucumber trellis, make sure to put it in the right place. A south-facing aspect is ideal and the soil should be moist and fertile yet well drained. Cucumbers will reward you with more fruit than you can eat if you give them a good helping of composted manure.
With my cucumber trellis I planted three ‘Moneymaker’ plants at the base. Outdoor grown cucumbers in my region won’t get as large as plants grown in a greenhouse. If you’re in a warmer climate, you might opt for just one or two.
Aftercare includes keeping those plants well watered and helping the vines find their way up the pallet. The slats are a little too large for them to find their way up naturally but it’s not difficult to show them the way.
If you’re interested in more pallet projects for the garden, check out my project for a strawberry pallet planter, and how to build a pallet compost bin. And if you’re running out of ideas on what to make with all your cucumbers try Grandma’s Dill Pickle recipe.
A pallet trellis is a great way to grow healthy homegrown cucumbers
Cucumbers belong to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes summer squash, winter squash, gourds, and melons. First of all, select a site with full sun. Healthy soil will keep your plants well-fed and give and provide moisture than poor quality soil.
If you are growing cucumbers in raised beds then don’t use ordinary garden soil. Cucumbers need fertile soil so you should make compost and manure before planting. Avoid the soggy and compacted soil and be sure that the soil is moist and well-drained.
The pH of the soil must be around 6.5 to 7.0. They need warm soil and consistent moisture. You can use different simple ways to keep your plant from getting thirsty.
Plant seeds 1 inch deep and keeps a distance of 2 to 3 feet between the rows.
If you are living in a cold area you should use black plastic to cover the soil to make it warm. The vine can climb on a trellis. A trellis is a good idea for limited space. trellising also protects the roots from damage.
Don’t be afraid of upcycling some of the items you might already have lying around the house! One cool idea is to use an old closet organizer to keep your cucumbers in line. Simply remove the drawers, add some strings to support your cucumbers as they climb, and install it in your garden.
There are, of course, other items you can upcycle to make cool cucumber trellises. You might use an old patio umbrella to make a teepee trellis or even use stakes you have lying around from other projects. I also recommend checking out this list of ordinary things to recycle in your garden for more inspiration. They are both functional and beautiful!