We grow on trellises for several reasons:
- Rabbits don't climb
- Ground hogs climb trees, but we haven't seen them climb a trellis fence (yet)
- Keeps the squash fruits off the ground - makes for easier spotting of squash bug eggs when the leaves are trellised upwards and for hand-pollinating squash blossoms
- Serve as barriers to help with isolating different plots to avoid unplanned crossing
To better split our largest garden into zones for easier crop rotation, we're redoing our trellis setup. Each 'run' consists of 50 feet of fencing, about a 6 foot gap to create a tractor path thru the center of the garden and another 40 feet of fencing.
So, for nice looking trellis construction like this:
How do I do it?
I have measured and installed the t-posts at each end of the garden and strung two pieces of orange twine between the far 'posts'. One string runs near the ground and the other up near the top. Because of the fence post driver, it shouldn't be 'too close' to the top, or it gets hit. T-posts have those 'bumps' on the one side. I find 6 bumps up from the ground and 6 bumps down from the white/green division to be ideal.
Why 2 strings you wonder, because not only do you want to the posts in a straight line, I don't want them tilted every which way either. Two strings provide enough of a visual cue without needing to walk to the end, and look down the row.
After establishing the ends of this 100 foot row, I put in the two posts that form the entry for a path thru the middle of the garden. It is wide enough to drive the tractor and front end loader into the garden.
At the ends of any run, I put the next post 5 ft over. Ideally, I'd put a post every 5 foot, but, they are expensive, so I compromise with spacing like 5 ft, 10 ft, 5 ft ,10 ft, 5 ft.
Instead of carrying my tape measure all over the place, I use a green fiber pole with an adjustable electric fence thing yellow as a 'measuring stick'. This lets me 'copy' the distance from my initial fence (first row):
The yellow electrical connector is telling me where the pole should be driven. For this photo, I've positioned the T-pole to show you what I'm planning to do. These are 7 ft T-poles. I use a step ladder to be high enough to efficiently drive them with my post driver (gray thing next to the pole).
I drive them (great exercise by the way) until the top of the pole is 5'10" (my height).
Notice how the pole lightly touches the two strings? That's a sign of good alignment.
Here you can see the 'path' marked by my footsteps in the freshly tilled soil that I've left for bringing the tractor through the center of the garden:
In addition to growing on the trellises, we'll plant down the middle. Sometimes a single row like these fava beans, or a block of buckwheat:
When the fence is mounted to the posts, we put a gap of a few inches or so between the ground and the fence. This makes it easier to weed with a diamond or scuttle hoe.
Previously, I let the poles protrude above the top of the fence. Although it made a convenient place to mount sprinklers, it did cause problems when draping nets and frost covers 'over' the fence. The top of the poles are sharp enough, that they want to poke holes in my tarps. The finished product:
Be sure to check back later to see how these green up!