Make the McKenzie Connection!

Thinking about growing green?

No space for vegetables?

Try vertical gardening.

By Denise Ruttan

Hankering for fresh tomatoes this summer but don’t have space for a vegetable garden?

Save room by training your veggies to grow up. Literally.  

Just grab some containers, and you're ready for "vertical gardening." Steve Renquist, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service, recommends big containers with good drainage. Whiskey or wine barrels that are cut in half are suitable sizes for most vegetables, he says.

You'll need to water and fertilize them more often than you would if the plants were in the ground, he cautions. Renquist suggests watering every day to every other day and adding a liquid fertilizer every other week.

Below are vegetables that Renquist says grow well in containers:


Pole beans


Photo by OSU's EESC - Pole beans can grow in raised beds but also do well in pots.

Pole beans are nice climbers. Plant them in May or June. Put two or three posts in a 10- to 20-gallon pot and tie some twine between them. You can plant four to five plants in rows four to six inches apart. You can also grow bush beans in containers, but choose dwarf varieties.





Bush and pole peas can be planted as early as March. Arrange the seedlings an inch apart. Stake pole peas as you would beans.


Green tomatoes

Photo by Rachel Beck Cherry tomatoes grow well in containers but they need to be staked up and exposed to full sun for at least six hours a day.

Tomatoes can grow six to eight feet tall but need to be staked up. Make sure their pot is 12 to 14 inches in diameter and that it gets at least six hours of full sun per day. Pinch off any side shoots that grow out of control. Grow one tomato plant per pot. Cherry tomatoes are a good choice.

Cucumbers, winter squash and melons

Cucumbers, winter squash and melons need containers with at least one to two feet of soil and must be trained. Push a couple of stakes into the soil and lace them with twine. As the plant grows, weave its vines through the twine. Plant two to three seedlings per container. Choose light, small varieties. Acorn, Kabocha, Blue Ballet and Hubbard are good choices for winter squash. Suitable melon types include Alvaro, Sugar Baby and Charentais.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash and melons are warm-season crops that can be planted early to mid-May in southern Oregon, mid- to late-May in northern Oregon and in June in central Oregon.


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