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Urban Farm Handbook Challenge: Build a Trellis!

Seattle is full of inspiring gardeners, including Annette Cottrell who blogs at Sustainable Eats and co-authored with Joshua McNichols the Urban Farm Handbook: City-Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading and Preparing What You Eat. This guide details a smart strategy for making the leap off the commercial food grid while still living in the city. The book is chock full of thrifty “why didn’t I think of that?” hints and really good recipes. But I found the section on coordinating a buying club for purchasing produce, grain, and other urban farm supplies in bulk particularly interesting.

To encourage more people to connect with their food, Annette is hosting a year long Urban Farm challenge. April is the gardening challenge month and Annette invited me to participate! My challenge to you is simple: build a trellis and grow some food on it. Taking advantage of the vertical space in your garden allows you to grow more food in the same amount of space. Plus trellises are fun to build, especially with found and recycled material, and they help make a visual focus point the in the garden. Once you get started, it is hard not to add several trellises to the garden (I’ve currently got 5 up right now).

Some of my very favorite vegetables to grow up trellises include:

‘Golden India’ snowpea

‘Satsuki Midori’ cucumber

‘Lemon’ cucumber

‘Trombetta’ summer squash

‘Mexican Sour Gherkin’

‘Delicata’ squash

‘Garden of Eden’ pole bean intermixed with climbing nasturtiums

‘Black’ cherry tomato

If you need some DIY trellis inspiration, check out these past posts:

Pea Trellis Round Up

Simple Vegetable Trellises

Using Sticks to Support Peas

Reclaimed Wood Plant Supports

DIY Cucumber Trellis

You can read more about the challenge and the prizes (and how to win them) over at Sustainable Eats. And in the meantime, be sure to let me know what you plan on trellising this summer!


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22 Responses to “Urban Farm Handbook Challenge: Build a Trellis!”

  1. 1
    Christina Lewis Says:

    Trellis plans are new to me this year. I have decided to try to grow peas and beans. I plan on making a square out of bamboo poles and using string to make a grid for my plants to grow up. I hope it works :D

  2. 2
    Susan Says:

    I will build more trellises this year from bamboo poles (I put them inside in the winter and they’ve lasted 15 years so far) strung with baling twine (if you have friend with a horse, or can find a stable, you will find a huge supply of free, used baling twine from hay bales).

    I’m going more vertical this year, so in addition to pole beans I usually grow on a trellis, I am going to try cucumbers, as well.

    I love this challenge–especially using “found” and pre-existing materials for the trellises.

    BTW, I have an “arch” entrance to my garden that is a used “hog panel” (stiff fencing) my husband and I bent into a 7′ high inverted “U” shape. It’s not real lovely in the winter, but is gorgeous covered with vines in the summer (grape vines are my choice, but any climber would work).

  3. 3
    Charmaine Says:

    I’ve been vertical gardening for years, but this is the first year I’ve installed trellises for perennials and cane fruits. I’ve got some beautiful 2 year old thornless blackberry I’m now training to a trellis, and have just planted an Akebia and Honeysuckle vine. Also my Artic Beauty Kiwi is finally big enough to climb up the trellis I made for it, so looking forward to a beautiful screen and maybe even some fruit!

  4. 4
    Dawn Says:

    I do a lot of trellising already, but I have built two new trellis’s this year-one for hops vines and one for a climbing clematis!

  5. 5
    Khadijah Says:

    This is our first try at trellising this year as well. We’re growing Rattlesnake Pole Beans Tall Telephone peas that have to be trellised. Now that I’ve read this article, I’m thinking I should trellis some of the other plants as well- thanks so much for such an informative post, the photos are great!

  6. 6
    Thaydra Says:

    I recently found out that I have to move in August, so you can imagine how bummed I was to discover I wouldn’t be able to plant the huge garden I was preparing. Then, I realized I could still grow at least some of the veggies- I’d just have to use containers, instead. That way, I can take them with me to wherever we end up.

    Right now, I have the peas planted. I still need to get a trellis up for them, and am thinking maybe a couple half-circles of strong chicken wire may work. I will be trying things out to see!

  7. 7
    val Says:

    I’m loving the gardening challenges. I’ve been using purchased trellises for my cucumbers and of course tomatoes. If I want to grow squash, I’m going to have to build some sturdy trellises. I’ll be trying this one for delicata:
    I’ll also be building something for my black eyed peas. Should be fun!

  8. 8
    Thad Says:

    Got to build a couple of new trellises this year since we are in our new place. So, need to sort through our shed to see what I can come up with to build them with.


  9. 9
    jwaggie Says:

    Great post! I’m wanting to run an arched trellis between two beds that are about 10 fee apart. I was going to plant purple beans, but after reading your post I might do my delicata squash. Does anyone know if winter squash and cucumber will cross pollinate?

  10. 10
    Gardener on Sherlock Street Says:

    The trellis in your photos are so nice looking!
    I’m planning to trellis cucumbers, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, a ‘tater’ squash that I’m trying from a friend and decorative gourds. Plus some morning glories and cardinal vine plants!

  11. 11
    Lindsey @ NW Backyard Veggies Says:

    I just built a bean trellis from entirely on hand and repurposed items from my backyard.

    I have also grown cucumbers on trellises and that has worked out splendidly!!

  12. 12
    Isabel @ Fennel and Fern Says:

    These are brilliant ideas! I’ve put a kiwi and an ornamental vine in on my balcony, and am going to construct a hazel trellis on it for them to climb up, and for me to string bunting and fairy lights from. Hopefully it will give me a bit more privacy and also will say to those passing by, “hey! I’ve only got a balcony and look at how much I can grow!”

  13. 13
    Linda Says:

    I have thought of using a trellis for strawberry plants. The difference is I may need to apply something to hold the climbers to the trellis as they don’t do it on there own.

  14. 14
    Africanaussie Says:

    Your trellises are so lovely and your plants look so well-behaved! Mine always seem to be falling over or the plants don’t want to climb up them. Maybe I need to follow some of your instructions and make some pretty trellises rather than the mishmash that I have. :)

  15. 15
    Willi Says:

    African-Aussie: Sometimes the plants need a bit of guidance to grow up!

    Linda: I’ve never though of trellising strawberries. I’ve seen people grow them in tiered planters though and they pin the daughter plants down to lower tiers.

  16. 16
    Linda Says:

    Willi: I had strawberries in a raised box. I thought it would be ideal. Bad idea if your going to go on a vacation for a couple weeks.

    Them things grew so fast they traveled to the ground and took root. I have been pulling strawberry plants out of the flower bed for years by the hundreds.

    Probably because they were up against the home and traveled under the cement pad. I never seem to really get them all. I give away June bearing strawberry plants by the box fulls on freecycle now for the past two years.

    One year I no interested parties. And dumped a whole wheelbarrow full down back by the pine trees. That’s why I thought of Trellis.


  17. 17
    Mimi Says:

    I thought I had left this comment much earlier, but I did not!
    I used some old dry bamboo we found to make “Tipi” trellises using twine for shelling peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas! Its my first year for the shelling peas, so I hope they go well. They haven’t done too much since I planted them.

  18. 18
    andrea Says:

    Hi there! I always grow something vertical usually the typical peas and pole beans. This year, I have two obelisks that I’m going to use in my vertical gardening. I think cucumbers will be on one and I have a thornless boysenberry under the other. The thornless boysenberry is new for me but last year I noticed the canes grew laterally instead of “up” like a raspberry. So, I ‘m trying an obelisk over it and training the canes up it.

  19. 19
    Corrin Says:


    It was so great to meet you today. I just ordered your book. I can’t wait for it to arrive. Your blog is gorgeous. I want to see your garden. Let’s be friends! ;) Seriously. I’ll bribe you with honey…and jam. Or cookies.

    Have fun in Mex and keep in touch. I’ll be sure and review your book when I get home from Italy.


  20. 20
    Dee Says:

    I love your blog. Two of my favorites :Kalamazoo gardening &you cooking

  21. 21
    Ian@Leicester Fencing Says:

    I love vertical growing to hide a boring anf uniteresting fence. I tend to use bamboo as this can be cut to size,is fairly cheap and the good thing is it last for years.
    Due to the really bad weather we have had here in the UK with a lot of heavy rain my gardening plans have gone to pot. Usually the stawberries which we grow on trellis are ready for the kitchen but not this year.
    Your post has given me some ideas for next year.

  22. 22
    Ashli Oertel Says:

    I am so happy I found your site. I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Google for something else. Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a great post and an all round enjoyable blog. (I also enjoy the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute, but I have added your website to my favorites, so when I have time I will be back to read more. Please do keep up the awesome job!

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