Have you ever considered growing summer squash on a trellis? Growing vegetables vertically saves space, prevents pest damage, and reduces disease issues. Additionally, trellised veggie plants receive improved air circulation and sunlight exposure. This often leads to higher yields and most gardeners find these crops are easier to harvest.
How to Grow Summer Squash Vertically
Unlike other types of cucurbits, many summer squash varieties have a bushy growth habit. Some produce short vines which can be trained to a trellis. It’s best to begin when the plants are very young. As the plants grow, tie the stalks to the trellis every few days.
When growing summer squash vertically, it’s advisable to choose varieties that are better adapted to trellis training:
- Black Forest Zucchini – Sometimes referred to by the French name “courgette,” black forest zucchini produces an abundance of long green squash on vines which can reach up to 7 feet (2 m.). This is a container-friendly variety.
- Delicata – Technically classified as a winter squash, this heirloom is a member of the same genus, Cucurbita pepo, as most summer squash varieties. The light green striped skin is tender when young and the creamy golden flesh has a sweet potato like flavor.
- Greybeard Zucchini – Highly recommended when vertical growing summer squash, this hybrid produces an abundance of fruit. Greybeard is a speckled grayish green squash with a mild flavor.
- Little Gem – Also considered a winter squash, this trailing variety yields an abundance of small, round, dark green fruit in midsummer. The sugary flesh caramelizes nicely when fried.
- Rampicante (Tromboncino) Zucchini – This long, slender, Italian heirloom squash widens into a bulb at the blossom end. The light green skin is tender, and the flesh has a sweet nutty flavor.
- Tatume – A round, green, Cucurbita pepo variety, Tatume can be harvested as a tender summer squash when soft-ball sized or left on the vine to mature as a golden winter squash. The flavorful flesh and larger diameter make the fruit an excellent choice for grilling.
Summer Squash Trellis Ideas
Creating a usable support system is key to growing summer squash vertically. Trellises can be crafted from a variety of materials but need to be strong enough to support plants and the fruit they produce. Here are a few suggestions for supporting a vertical squash crop.
Cages – From store-bought wire tomato cages to homemade wooden box-types, these support systems work well with short-vined summer squash plants. For heavier plants, stake the cage to prevent it from tipping over as the plant matures.
Fences – Summer squash plants don’t have tendrils and require tying for vertical gardening. Solid wooden fences might not be the best option but weaving the growing tips of a squash plant in and out of a wire mesh fence is quite doable. Secure the stalk with strips of soft fabric to prevent slippage.
Stakes – A single wooden or metal stake can also be used to support a vertical summer squash plant. To prevent damaging the roots, drive the stakes into the ground before transplanting seedlings or sowing squash seeds.
Trellises – Constructed with wire mesh, netting, or string supported by wooden or metal stakes, trellises are one of the strongest support systems for growing vertical crops. Additionally, several permanently-installed trellises can be used when rotating cucurbit crops with other vertically grown vegetables like tomatoes.