Cucumber Trellis (pics)

soilent_greenJuly 18, 2012

Hi folks,

A while back it was requested that I post some pics of my trellised cucumbers when ready, so here are a couple for your enjoyment.

If so desired, click on any pic to see larger version but please note that you will be redirected to my flickr photo page. I do this to reduce load times for folks with slower internet connections. :)

I am afraid that I forgot to document the variety planted, but I know that the cucumbers I seeded were either "Boston Pickling" or "Burpee Pickler" cucumbers.

The cucumber trellis is 46 feet long consisting of 3 - 16 feet long by 4 feet tall cattle panel fence sections, staked with t-posts (center section overlaps end sections 1 foot to minimize number of t-posts needed). Trellis is oriented north-south because I find this to be the most beneficial for production and overall plant health and vigor. Seeds were placed in a row along one side of the fence line. I dug a 4 to 5 inch deep v-trench and filled compost to recommended seed planting depth, placed seeds on the compost, and covered with existing soil. I neglected the plants a bit so they are not trained up the trellis as well as I prefer, but they will do. Plants are not doing too bad considering that deer browsed the tips of all the vines a couple of weeks ago. We are in near-drought conditions so I have been watering the plants every three or four days. Pollination is good but some blossom drop is occurring, probably due to heat stress. No spraying or dusting of any kind has been applied to these plants.

Trellised Cucumbers:

Cucumber on the vine:

Cucumbers on the vine:

We have been sneaking early cukes for a week or so now for fresh cucumber salad. Following is a pic of the first main harvest. I was a bit behind schedule so some in the crate are quite large. I gave this batch to a neighbor who cans dill spears so she was happy to take them - she will compost the ones that are too big for her needs. I will now be harvesting on a schedule to avoid cucumbers getting this large. Nice clean, straight cucumbers, minimal plant disease issues, and ease of harvesting are why I like to trellis cukes.

First Main Harvest:

Happy Gardening.


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Wow this is so impressive! Gorgeous.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Your Cukes are looking really good. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:58PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

Wow fantastic, I see some future giant pickles in there!!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:12PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

I wish I was your neighbor!

I just spent the past half hour checking out your gorgeous pictures on flickr--amazing!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Awesome! Love the trellis set up! I grew mine on a trellis but some also took to crawling on the ground, of course! I also am getting nice, straight ones w/o the issues of the underside of the cuke where it would normally grow on the ground. Are you a commercial grower or you just love your cukes? I have to pickle some of mine. I also love cuke salad. Thinking I'll make some refrig pickles today or tomorrow!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Thanks to all for the compliments. Glad folks are enjoying the photos on my flickr page. I took the time to add descriptions to them. I am not a commercial grower, just a gardening enthusiast. I have a little local network of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to whom I barter fresh veggies in return for stuff I do not have. I get in return such things as morel mushrooms, pears, apples, raspberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, chickens, venison, walleye, maple syrup, smokehouse time, straw bales, free use of equipment, etc. Bartering is the way to go.

I also give produce to some older folks around here who have retired from gardening due to age or health related issues. I love seeing their smiles when I drop off a "care package". They appreciate getting a visit as well to talk gardening for a while. Talk about a knowledge base of gardening - so much can be learned from talking to people that gardened for 50, 60, sometimes 70 years, and I listen intently to what they say and to the advice they offer. I have the gardening space and as long as I am physically able, I will always plant a bit more than I need of everything.

Grandfather always said to plant extra, every step of the way, as insurance against a poor growing season or some unanticipated failure, and if a bumper occurs to pass your bounty on to others. I have always followed his wise words and things have worked out well over the years.

Thanks again for the responses and emails.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:51AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Beautiful cukes, Tom. Did you need to spend a lot of time training the vines?

"Grandfather always said to plant extra, every step of the way, as insurance against a poor growing season or some unanticipated failure, and if a bumper occurs to pass your bounty on to others."

My sentiments exactly.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 1:13AM
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Does anyone think 14 gauge weld wire fence would support cukes? Maybe with a lot of extra posts? I dont have room to plant as dense as tom, but it would sure save some space if i could use the garden fence as a trellis!

Thanks everyone

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Your trellis pics are inspiring
I wish I had the space that you do, I can only imagine! I will share a peek of my first year growing upwards with trellises. Mine are not as heavy duty and certainly not as many plants But it seems to be doing well!

I am very pleased and do not think I will ever go back to growing cucumbers flat! Thank You for sharing.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Tom your gardens are amazing. Anyone who hasnt gone to his flicker page (click on an image) should. I am inspired by those big grow boxes that you built. One of these days I have to do that. I have been keeping everything inside until it stays above at least 45 at night and it gets really really crowded.

I dont try to grow nearly as much, nor do I have the space. But I have been growing Cukes on cattle panel arches for the past couple of years and they work great. This one has 5 plants on either side of the arch. I got them in late, so I am just starting to get cucumbers. Lettuce and lobelia are planted on the inside.

Marie. I used my garden fence as a trellis for cuckes my first year, and it was only a cheapo plastic fence. it sagged a little, but worked fine. I am sure the 14 gage would work unless you grow huge cucumbers. You do need to consider how much shade they will provide if you plant other things right near the fence.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 3:01PM
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zeedman: I hope your garden has recovered from that hailstorm... I have around two hours invested in training the vines up the trellis. Should have been three. ;) When I am harvesting I try to tuck the laterals in to try to get them going up as well but they can be a bit feisty.

Mari_88: Regarding 14 gauge, when the vines are as crowded as mine they get kind of heavy, but you could always add more supports as needed. It looks like tesmith has a nice set up using smaller gauge wire. And yes, going vertical with cukes and beans can save a lot of space. Not trying to sell anyone, but a benefit of the cattle panels is that the large openings make it easier to feed vines through without damaging them. Another benefit of the larger openings (4 x 6 inches) is that they allow a person to reach through and pick cucumbers on the other side while harvesting, and an adult hand holding a cucumber can easily get through the opening. Reduces harvesting time. Obviously not an issue on smaller set ups.

tesmith: Nice pics, nice veggies, nice trellis setup. Is that an eggplant variety in the garden in the first pic? Leaves look a little different than what I am used to seeing. I do not know if I am mentally blanking something obvious - plants look familiar but I just can not place what they are.

mandolls: Yeah the grow boxes work great. It is all about the concept - they can be built smaller with lighter materials if need be. I finally dismantled my last grow box two weeks ago and put it away for another season. The project took only one hour. It is fun to see them set up because of the excitement and promise of a new season, but it is also satisfying to see them put away knowing that the seedling and transplant phase of gardening is done. I love your cattle panel arch. I like the concept and have seen threads on GW of other cattle panel arches, so I know they work well. I am thinking of trying your arch concept for morning glories or clematis or hyacinth beans next year. One question: What keeps the entire arch from possibly pancaking due to too much plant weight? You are confident your rebar anchors offer enough support?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 11:08PM
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I might have to try some trellises and row covers next year. I have about 8 rows between 70-90 feet long I am using for gardening. I might have to take up 20 feet or so. This year, I only have 3 direct seeded cukes that came up. They're only starting to get their first set of leaves. Last year I was able to eat 3 cucumbers that look like pickles. The variety is called Homemade pickle, or something like that. It hasn't been the best weather around here for much Summer vegetables.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:28AM
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Wow! I am new to gardening.
I did a raised bed for the first time this year and have one cucumber plant. It looks very strong and healthy and growing like crazy and bragging other plants. It is several feet. Is it too late to put a trellis in?


    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 7:36AM
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Tom, I know that I have seen others use t-bar stakes driven into the ground, but I just used 3 ft rebar, 3 on each side. They are in the ground about 2 ft deep and then the top foot is wrapped tightly up the panel with the wire., which gives it some vertical support. (you can see it in the pic).

That particular arch had a huge tree brach come down on it last year. it bent it out of shape but didn't collapse it. I just bent it back, its a little wonky, but not bad.

I have never had my cukes get much past the top of the arch (7ft), so the weight is more on the sides, and I suspect my plants are not as productive as yours, but it would take a heck of a lot of cucumbers at the top to distort the shape. Lat year I did small melons on one of them and it didn't come close to stressing it. I have seen them with a sharp bend at the top for more of a Gothic arch, and with the legs closer together. (mine have a 5ft. spread) Doing that would make them a stronger architecturally.

I put a couple of morning glories on each arch too, but they aren't blooming yet so you cant spot them in the picture.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:40AM
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Thanks for the kind words!

Yes those are eggplants I planted 4 different varieties this year in that picture on this side are Ichiban Japanese Eggplant. They look much like a black beauty except they are longer and skinnier. Just getting ready to taste the first ones off of these plants so I have no idea how they taste. On the far side is a black beauty, maybe 2 I can not recall at the moment.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Tom thanks for starting this thread, exactly why i love this site and the people who contribute to it. So many great examples of methods that actually work! A novice gardener's lifeline, thanks to everyone :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:28AM
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jen1996 said "I did a raised bed for the first time this year and have one cucumber plant. It looks very strong and healthy and growing like crazy and bragging other plants. It is several feet. Is it too late to put a trellis in?"

My opinion is do not mess with your plant if it is happy where it is. If you start to tinker with it now you could damage or cripple it by kinking the vine, and that would be very disappointing. Leave well enough alone for this year and develop a trellis plan for next growing season. :)


    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Absolutely wonderful, inspiring photos. Thank you so much for taking the time to annotate them. I learned a lot tonight.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:00AM
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4Hleader: Thanks, I am glad you like the annotations. I figure if I take the time to do that, maybe I can pass some of my knowledge and methods on to others to give them ideas or maybe make their gardening experience a little more enjoyable or successful.

Some recent photos. The clicking thing still applies. :)

Trellised Cucumbers (Better photo):

End View:

The following photo shows a detail of trellis construction. Very simple method using cattle fence panel, t-posts, and a single tie wire at top of each t-post. Three t-posts per 16 foot fence section are all that is required. Note the large openings that allow reach-through while harvesting. The trellis will be cleaned up and dismantled at the end of the season because I prefer to place it in a different location each year to minimize pest and disease issues. This end suffered the most damage from deer browsing which is why the plants are so short.

Trellis Detail:

Second Harvest (July 22):

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:14AM
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What did you do with all those cukes? Amazing job! They look great!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:13PM
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Your not affected by cucumber beetles ????
I'm having a war with them, going to cover everything this year.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:32PM
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IBsmilin asked, "What did you do with all those cukes?"

Ate until I was sick of them, and processed a bunch into many different kinds of pickles including jars packed full of baby dills that I gave away as Christmas gifts. Gave a lot of the cucumbers away. I also bartered a couple bushels to different folks and in return received a couple bushels of apples, two whole butchered free range chickens, a couple pounds of ground venison, some maple syrup, and some free welding that I needed to have done. Decent trades as far as I was concerned...

japus asked, "Your not affected by cucumber beetles?"

Oh, they are around here. I see a couple of them every year but I have not had any kind of infestation since the late 90s. But I am not complacent and I watch for them like a hawk, especially when the plants are small.

Sorry to hear you are having problems. I consider insect infestations a sign of imbalance in nature, so maybe some deeper research might help to understand what is going on in your area or garden in order to reduce the problem and put them in check. IMO, think of it this way: the infestation is not the problem, it is a symptom or the result of some other more fundamental problem that is occurring that you need to address. For example, are you somehow unintentionally creating a perfect habitat for them to thrive? Also, who or what are their natural predators and why are those creatures not doing their jobs? Follow the chain. Look for shortcomings and address them if possible. Wish you success with your efforts to solve your problem, garden pests can be very frustrating indeed.

Take care,

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 12:33AM
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I never looked at my cucumber beetle problem the way you mentioned.
I will surely check into this way of thinking.
Thank you

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:42AM
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I use my chain link fence to grow cucumber it isbasically the same idea

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:18PM
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bluebirdie(Z8 SF E Bay)

Tom, you have quite an impressive garden! I could never train my cucumbers up like yours. They always try to grow downwards. Also the plants never grow so large and still look so green and healthy. What is your secret?

I also have poor luck with growing basil in the ground. Maybe I should try what you do... grow them in pots instead.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I guess I do not have any secret, just the basics. Good seed variety, good soil, good air movement, full sun, water when needed but do not overwater. I do plant the seeds in compost. And I talk to my plants. ;)

It takes a little bit of effort to keep them trellised properly in the beginning. An every other day task of carefully weaving the vines in and out of the trellis as they grow. When vines get taller than the trellis and start to bend down I simply train them along the top of the trellis. Once plants start producing I spend very little if any time having to train vines, other than helping out an occasional vine while I am picking.

Basil never seemed to do well for me in the garden either. Not bad, just mediocre. I get such better results planting it in containers that I have never taken the time to figure out why I was having problems. Switched to container growing and never looked back.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Re starting this great thread with AWESOME photos, thanks for posting!!!! BTW did you remember the variety that you planted or a good one that will grow well up a Cattle Panel Trellis?? I love seeing Scarlet Runner Beans going up a cattle panel arch! THanks so much.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 8:39PM
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