How to Grow Watermelons, Cantaloupes and Cucumbers in crowded spaces using a simple trellis

by teddletonmr

Growing vining fruits and vegetables in small spaces using a trellis that is easy to build, maintain, and improves your harvest is easier than you may believe.

I believe it safe to say, we all enjoy a slice of ice-cold watermelon on a hot summer day, fresh vine-ripened cantaloupe at breakfast or snack time, and freshly picked cucumbers in our favorite salad. So much so, those of us with the love, and knack, for growing fresh fruits and veggies, often find ourselves daydreaming about how to grow our favorite vining fruits and vegetables in small garden spaces.
Our best quick and easy solution, build a trellis, regardless how big or small the garden space. Container gardens are perfect for small corner of a backyard, or a large community garden, a well-constructed trellis built to maximize all of our limited garden spaces. Making it much easier for us to grow the tasty watermelons, and similar vining fruits and vegetables we crave. Just imagine, enjoying the sweet taste of your gardening success, accolades and all.
Continue reading this article, join in on the chat, and enjoy the benefits of using a simple trellis in your gardens.

Stuff you will need to build a simple trellis

Materials and tools you will need to build a simple trellis are easy to find

Building a simple trellis and growing watermelons in small crowded garden spaces is really quite easy. That is of course, considering you have a spot in your garden that receives a minimum of six plus hours of direct sunlight, and plenty of well-drained fertile soil. With all that affirmed, the only thing remaining is building a simple trellis, a few support posts, and a bit of concrete re-enforcing wire, or nylon trellis netting, sturdy enough to support both, the weight of the watermelon vines, and melons as they grow and ripen.

How to build a simple trellis in your garden

Metal T posts and concrete re-enforcing wire is easy to find, inexpensive and will last for several years in the garden.

Metal T posts are easy to install, no need to dig holes as with wooden posts. Simply use a post driver, or sledgehammer to drive them into your garden soil about 12 to 16-inches deep depending on soil type.

I find that driving the metal T-post into the ground, white tip up, until the top of the barbed anchor plate of the post disappears under the soil surface, works well in my southern Indiana clay soil.  

Driving a T post with a post driver

Simply lift to post driver three or four inches and drop it hitting the top of the metal fence post
Using a T post driver
Using a T post driver
teddletonmr

How to build a trellis - tomato cage

Made of 10-gauge wire, with 6-inch square openings concrete re-enforcing wire makes a great cost affective and easy to build garden trellis

Fashioned into cylinders many gardeners in the know use concrete re-enforcing wire as sturdy long lasting tomato cages, raspberry , watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber trellises make growing containers, and raised bed gardens easy. To build a cylinder shaped trellis like the one in the picture to the right, you will need a piece of 5-foot wide concrete re-enforcing wire, 6-feet long.  

cylinder shaped trellis, tomato cage
cylinder shaped trellis, tomato cage
teddletonmr

How to cut and form concrete wire trellis

Cut with bolt cutters leaving a 6-inch piece of wire extending past last vertical wire

The great thing about using 10-gauge concrete re-enforcing wire as a trellis is its strength. Unlike nylon trellis, netting that requires a frame for support. Concrete wire is self-supporting when fashioned into a cylinder, only needing a couple small stakes or post to prevent a strong wind from blowing your simple trellis / tomato cage over.

The 6-inch square openings in the concrete wire make it easy to measure the needed 6-foot length, without the need for a tape measure, yardstick, or the like. With the wire lying flat on the ground, starting from one end of the wire, count over 12 vertical wires and cut with bolt-cutters. Remember to leave a length of wire for securing each end to one another, see picture.

10-gauge concrete wire
10-gauge concrete wire
teddletonmr
Form wire into cylinder,  bend wire into hook to secure
Form wire into cylinder, bend wire i...
teddletonmr
Form wire into cylinder and twist wire to secure
Form wire into cylinder and twist wir...
teddletonmr

Build a simple trelis for raspberries

Cutting a 5-foot tall trellis in half makes a great Raspberry trellis
Simple trellis for raspberries
Simple trellis for raspberries
teddletonmr

Building a concrete wire trellis with arch

Train Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkin vines to grow on a trellis, Cucumbers, on the other hand, love to climb

In the photo just to the right, is the trellis we use to maximize a small space in the corner of our garden to grow cucumbers. This arched trellis is easy to make, and works great.

All you will need to build this garden trellis, 3, 5-foot T-posts, 2, sections of concrete re-enforcing wire 5-foot wide and 11-foot long and about an hour to put it all together..

Arched cucumber trellis
Arched cucumber trellis
teddletonmr

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Cucumber trellis

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Cucumber trellis
Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Cucumber trellis
teddletonmr

Building an arched trellis step by step

This arched trellis makes growing and harvesting watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers easy in small spaces

The arched trellis pictured in the photo, is set 4-feet away from a south facing, 6-foot tall wood privacy fence. This location provides full sun for most of the day, shaded a bit first thing in the morning by the east facing fence, and a huge sweet gum tree a couple of hours before sunset.

To eliminate the need to constantly search for a tape measure, I have marked the handle of my favorite garden rake with a white line, at four foot and know the overall length from tines to end of the wooden handle is five foot. This will come in handy later.

In the photo, please notice the metal T-post closest to the corner of the wood fence. This post is located, four feet from each section of fence and driven approximately 12-inches into the garden soil leaving 4-feet or so of post above ground to attach and support trellis material.  I use my trusty rake handle, to determine proper post height, and spacing..

Attaching concrete wire to T-post

Save money, cut a 6-inch piece of the concrete wire, bend a hook on one end, wrap aroud post, and secure
Attach concrete wire to T-post
Attach concrete wire to T-post
teddletonmr

Attaching concrete wire to T-post

Save money on materials, cut and use a piece of the 10-gauge concrete wire to attach trellis to metal T-post

In the photo above, you will see how a simple piece of the 10-gauge wire used to make the concrete re-enforcing wire works to attach wire to metal fence post. You can also use a piece of an old metal coat hanger, or one of those pre-made chain link fence do-dads to do the job but, where is the fun in that?

Notice there is a couple inches of the wire extending past the metal T-post. This overhang makes it much easier to secure the wire to the post, without feeling the need to use a few colorful superlatives.

Similarly, where the two pieces of fence like re-enforcing wire meet in the center of the trellis, overlapping the two pieces of concrete wire 4-inches or so, will make it much easier to secure both pieces of the soon to be trellis to the center metal T-post, see picture to the right.  

Spacing the attaching wires, by skipping every other horizontal wire, (every 12-inch)   or so, will make the trellis strong enough to stand the test of time, and many bountiful harvests.

You will find everything you need to build a simple trellis at your local, Lowe's, Home Depot, or home improvement center

 

Overlap and attach concrete wire
Overlap and attach concrete wire
teddletonmr

Urban gardeners maximize crowded spaces

Using a simple trellis in container gardens, raised beds, and small spaces make urban gardeners dreams come true

Many urban gardeners like you and me, face the challenge of maximizing small garden spaces. For us, figuring out exactly what is the best way to maximize our growing spaces, in a corner of the garden, putting it to good use is paramount.

After all, I believe we will all agree abandoning all hope of ever growing anything of value in a small space, or procrastinating further is out of the question. Coming to grips with this vexing situation, discovering how to best optimize areas such as, a wood fence corner, alongside a privacy fence, and small garden space is what we are all about.

Question for vegetable gardeners

For those of you that have used a trellis in your garden, have you ever used T-post or concrete re-enforcing wire.

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No, I didn't know about using these materials before reading this article, I want one.
dustytoes on 04/26/2013

I can't see myself building one of these trellises because I don't have any space - even for this. But your ideas and directions are great!

katiem2 on 04/25/2013

No I have not, I just assumed I would not be handy or strong enough to use such tools, tools intimidate me BUT now I know I can and will use these tools to secure my post for cages and trellis.

yes I have, T-post and concrete wire works great, I love it.
Charles on 05/13/2016

Been using it for years for tomatoes and cucumbers.

Michelle on 03/15/2015

We use cattle or hog panels found at large farm supply stores. You can get a 4'x16' panel for about $20. Just secure it with 4 electric fence posts(about $2 ea) in each corner and bend into an arch. Other arches pre-made or handcrafted from wood cost several times as much! These panels are made of high quality steel and can be secured to the posts with zip ties or metal staples. I'm putting up one for grapes and roses this year. They take up very little space.

kimbesa on 05/24/2013

This takes me back. We had a post driver like that at home in the old days.

Updated: 04/25/2013, teddletonmr
 
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How to Grow Watermelons, Cantaloupes and Cucumbers in crowded spaces using a simple trellis Chat


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teddletonmr on 04/11/2016

Thanks frankbeswick , your gardening wisdom appreciated …
Happy gardening all, Mike

frankbeswick on 04/09/2016

That certain fruits are dropping off indicates to me that the bed is suffering a shortage of water.

frankbeswick on 04/09/2016

Melons belong to Cucurbitacae, a family whose members share this characteristic: they are bullies. One fruit will dominate and grow huge at the expense of the others. It happens with marrows and pumpkins, etc. You need to be rid of the small fruits. Just pluck those that are not growing to make room for one.

You should have four large ones, one for each plant, but as there is only one for four, then it is likely that one plant is bullying the rest. This would indicate to me that the bed is short of nutrients, so there is competition between the plants, and this is likely as cucurbits are greedy feeders and so need much fertilizer. You need to add manure, fertilizer and seaweed to bring the nutrient level in the soil up. Compost will be useful for adding humus, which is important for soil. Also ensure that water is applied in sufficient quantities, as melons need to be well watered. Water the soil below each plant so that the water will reach the roots rather than evaporate from the leaves.

Good luck.

Sarah on 04/09/2016

Hello I have 4 watermelon plants in the garden and they have gone crazy and filled up an unused bed which is great! I have 1 almost fully grown melon but all the other babies get to about 5cm long, go yellow and fall off. Do you know why this would be?

ologsinquito on 01/22/2014

The watermelon in the picture looks delicious, especially this time of year. I'm pinning this article on My Wizzley Writing Board.

katiem2 on 05/27/2013

I was concerned about the weight of the container on my deck, but it turned out to be okay, my deck is relatively new and was built by professionals. I set it just by the right hand side of my french doors, the one I don't use, so I can admire it from my dining and living room space. I'm so excited. Watermelon is my daughters favorite food. I expect to have a bumper crop and save a mint at the grocery. Watermelons are so costly at the grocery.

teddletonmr on 05/27/2013

MikeRobberts , Hey Mike, a few of my city dwelling gardening friends, have confided in me for them growing their own vining plants in containers supported by a simple trellis. By far is much easier than caring for some sort of animal pet.
Welcome to the Wizzley community, Mike

teddletonmr on 05/27/2013

Congratulations Katie getting started is the biggest obstacle for many suburban gardeners. Using a 40-gallon container on your deck, patio, and landscape beds is a great way to maximize the harvest potential of all your compact garden spaces.
With a little help from your girls training the watermelon vines to grow around the trellis, and supporting the watermelons with the hammock thing, you guys will enjoy much more than a bountiful harvest of tasty vine ripened sugar baby melons.
Warmest regards, happy gardening. Mike

MikeRobbers on 05/27/2013

Very thorough guide and smart tips. For us that dwell in cities space is the main obstacle we have to overcome.

katiem2 on 05/25/2013

Well I've gone and done it, I've planted eight sugar baby watermelon plants per your instructions Mike and I must say this project was much easier than I anticipated with you step by step guide. I'm so excited to watch them grown and tend to them guiding them up the fencing, I used the cage method. I also planted two watermelon plants paired with two cucumber plants in a 40 gallon planter on my back deck. I put a fence cage around the pot to implement the same method. The girls and I are looking forward to a bumper crop of melons and cucumbers, who knows we might just get a few cantaloupe plants this weekend as well. We have lots of room in the garden and just tilled it very well again today.


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