Vertical Square Foot Gardening: Tying Your Plants

When unruly or large plants threaten to take over square foot gardening, what are the best ways to tie plants and keep them healthy? There are a number of methods that can be utilized, depending on size, number and heaviness of the plants in the vertical garden.

Square foot gardening refers to an intensively-planted small-space garden in a raised bed box container divided into 1-foot squares. The concept was created and popularized by Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot Gardening. Using space wisely also minimizes water usage, cuts down on weeding, maintenance and maximizes productivity.

Nylon Netting

The best method for tying up larger plants, according to Bartholomew, is through staking and nylon netting. It’s really quite simple. Place stakes that are 2-feet tall each in the corners of a 4-foot by 4-foot square foot garden box. Drive them into the ground outside the box. Next, take nylon netting and stretch it across half-grown plants horizontally. Nylon netting has 7-inch by 7-inch wide openings, perfect to permit the taller plants to grow right up through the mesh while also allowing easy access to tend to the plants in the garden.

Nylon netting has proven for several square foot gardeners to be an excellent choice for tying up corn as well, although the stakes need to be longer – about 4 to 5 feet in length.

String and Twine

Biodegradable string, green jute twine and synthetic twine are excellent choices for helping to tie up plants in square foot gardening. Tomatoes especially are good candidates for the biodegradable string when tying the plants to stakes placed on the north side of the plant and sunk 2 to 2-1/2 feet into the ground for support. After harvest, the biodegradable string can be left to decompose in the garden.

One method of tying up tomatoes involves tying a square knot at one end around the stake, and tying the rest of the twine around the tomato plant stem in another square knot. As the plant grows, tie additional square knots to both the plant and the stake at 12-inch intervals.

Another popular tomato tying method uses string to tie the plant to an overhead crossbar or trellis, thus training the tomato plant to grow vertically.

Clips, Ties and Tapes

For individual stems or smaller or lighter weight plants, many square foot gardening aficionados use soft plant tie tape, Velcro plant ties, and twist ties. Twist tie tape comes in a 66-foot dispenser, while twist ties come in a package of 150 with a 7-inch plastic length for each tie. These methods are appropriate for securing plants to stakes of bamboo, recycled plastic or wrought iron, as well as to various types of netting or cage supports.

Use vine clips for tying up cucumber vines or other climbing flower and vegetable cultivators. Vine clips usually come in ¾-inch size in a package of 10.

Tying up plants in your vertical square foot garden will probably mean using a variety of methods, depending on the vegetable, fruit or flower, how tall it gets, how heavy, and how much it produces.