Gardentalk – Your fruit, vegetables and flowers thank you for your support

KTOO Kiwi
A kiwi plant climbs up the side of the building at the KTOO Agricultural Test Station and Garden of Science! (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Many garden plants get too tall or too heavy to support themselves over the entire season.

That’s why Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says it’s important that we do our best to lift them up as they grow.

Keeping plants off the ground helps with pollination, air circulation, and prevents slugs from chewing up the leaves.

“And, to make it easier for us to pick them,” Buyarski said.

Buyarski says he may use alder sticks, reclaimed fencing poles, string and netting, a trellis and tomato cages to support plants.

Without any support, tomato plants will get too heavy and fall over when they start fruiting out.

Other plants, like peas, kiwi and cucumbers, will actually twine themselves around another support or have tendrils that reach out to climb higher.

“They keep going up and up,” Buyarski said. “If (peas) are not given support, then they flop (over) or they grab onto each other and you get this tangled mass.”

Buyarski also uses old t-shirts to make slings for his cucumbers so they can grow long and straight. Cucumber fruit may curl and become susceptible to fungus if they rest on the ground.

Even flowers need a little help staying upright. Buyarski says delphiniums and peonies will fall over if too much rain accumulates in the flowers.

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