Building It Up and Giving Some Support

This post from last year defines my past few weeks. The heat has turned many of the gardens around town (especially my own) into jungles in need of structural support. Take a gander through this post for some ideas on how to give your garden some additional support. 

As the heat of the summer grows (or slowly ebbs and flows), I start to see the results of my undone to-do list. In the garden the things you leave for tomorrow often end up in wildness, anarchy and a particular kind of beauty. This year I am trying to be better about doing less of my job on the computer and more of it out in the gardens in our city.

Our office (the Ecology Action Centre) has amazing little pockets of garden around our back deck and in the spirit of my new goal I have been giving it more attention than usual. The results have been pretty amazing both in the garden and in me, as I work on getting over my fears of building and general feelings of un-skilled-ness.

This month I finally took some time to properly stake the tomatoes and got some help and to build a trellis along our front sidewalk.  On the trellis we are growing beans, squash, and cucumber and I staked our tomatoes with 6 ft. hardwood stakes that I bought at Canadian Tire. Here is some information, photos and links about both of these things.

Supporting Tomatoes

I like staking tomatoes because it is easy and I think it looks nice. Before you start make sure the stakes are at least six feet tall to give the tomatoes enough to grow on. When I stake the tomatoes I like to pinch off the suckers, which are the shoots that crop up between the main stem of the plant and the branches. This helps keep the plant a manageable size and puts more energy into producing big yummy fruit.

Suckers: Now You See It

Now you Don’t!

Then I tie the stem of the plant to the stake to secure it. I do this by first attaching twine to the stake nice and tight. Then I attach the twine very loosely to the plant stem, leaving lots and lots of room for it to grow throughout the season.

Leave a hopeful amount of room when you are tying the twine around the stem.

If you’d like something more substantial, you can build an A frame trellis and use string to train the plants up as another option. (See our links down at the bottom for A frame designs).

Tomatoes are staked and all in a line

Beans, Cucumber and other Trellis Loving Plants

There are many ways to build a trellis for taller growing plants like beans. The main things to keep in mind as you build is that it is sturdy, secure and big enough for the plant you’d like to grow on it. You will want to find a way to secure the structure in the garden depending on where you are placing it in your garden. If it is a bed in the middle of the garden you can bury the base of the trellis nice and deep, packing the soil around it tightly to that the structure is secure. A frame designs are great for this situation. If you are gardening in raised beds then you can attach the trellis structure to the side of the bed.

In our case we are growing the beans up a large wall, and so we built a very simple flat frame and attached the it to the vinyl siding, making sure to waterproof the holes with rubber washers and caulking. We then used jute twine to string vertically on the frame for the beans and cukes to grow up. It didn’t take much time at all and since we had mostly scavenged lumber and supplies, we only had to buy the twine.

Here are some photos of us building our trellis…

Getting Started, building the frame


Lacing the twine


The trellis ready to be installed


Me and a friend figuring out the installation


The Trellis InstalledBeans moving on up

Do you have any great trellis designs, tips or photos? Send them to  We’d love to share them!

Great Links on Trellises

Some Great A Frame Trellis Designs:

Various ways to support tomatoes:

How to Lash your trellis together:


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