Horizontal Pumpkin Trellis

Pumpkins are not the first crop most people think of when they think of trellising, and horizontal is not the orientation most think of when they think of trellising. But having a successful garden on the cheap requires thinking outside the box. Using a trellis to grow crops like pumpkins that would sprawl and crawl all over if left to themselves will save tons of space. Likewise, orientating your trellis horizontally can also save space. That might seem counterintuitive, but if your trellis is vertical it will shade out the area behind it. Depending on your space and garden design that could make a big difference. With this design you can grow a pumpkin vine in an area as small as 4”x4”.

• First, determine which side of your garden the sun is primarily on. For most of us in the northern hemisphere this will be on the southern side.
• Next, determine which bed you will plant your pumpkins in. If all of your beds are uniform in dimension this won’t be a big deal.
• Make a wooden frame that is just large enough to be placed over the bed easily.
• Attach vertical posts to the frame at the corners. Make the two posts that are on the sunny side shorter than the posts that are on the other side. The shorter post should be about 12” above the level of the bed, and the taller post can be about 12” taller than the short posts. This doesn’t need to be exact. It can be adjusted to accommodate your available material, and if shading out is an issue you can make the taller posts even longer, but the longer they get the closer to vertical the trellis will get and the more shade it will cast.
• Reinforce the posts with angled braces or attach them to the bed if they are close enough to add strength.
• Connect the top of the posts with a frame as well.
• Lay hog wire across the top frame and attach it to the frame with zip ties, or nails driven half way and then bent over. Don’t use wire that has small openings.
• Attach hemp or cotton lines to the short side, about 6” apart and long enough to touch the soil.
• Plant the pumpkin seeds or starts where they can climb the lines. Keep only the strongest vine. You may need to use garden tape to keep the vine on the line since pumpkins don’t climb as well as other vines.
• When it reaches the top, train it back and forth starting at the lowest portion and going up one section at a time only after the lowest section is full.
• Hang fruit beneath the wire, suspended from the wire with an old t-shirt. If the fruit is large the section of wire it is on may need to be vertically reinforced with a stick or two.
This design is meant to act like a solar panel. It should maximize the amount of sun available, while taking up the least amount of space. It also helps reduce pests and rot on the fruit by keeping it off the ground.

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