Adventures in Micro Homesteading

Confession: I’m secretly obsessed with watching homestead videos on YouTube. There’s something about watching people grow their own produce and raise their own animals that really inspires me. It also makes me feel completely useless, but let’s not digress.

Last year, I started growing food. My peppers and tomatoes turned out pretty good. The basil grew like a weed, and I’m sure I would have had far more blue berries had my squirrel friends not devoured them before I had an opportunity to.

This year I’m kicking it up a notch in the raised garden beds. I’m putting those hours of watching YouTube clips to work by experimenting with micro homesteading.

Right now, in the beds we have corn, beans, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. That doesn’t sound like very much, but it actually takes a substantial amount of space to grow some of this stuff. For example, did you know you need about 20 sq feet for a single cucumber plant?!? That’s crazy! Especially considering I have two of them🤦🏾‍♀️ Honestly, I figured with my brown thumbs (and my hectic summer travel schedule) one was bound to die. In case one or both miraculously survived, I had to find a solution for our limited space problem. Answer: vertical gardening!

Many plants are fine growing on the ground and spreading out but equally, if not more happy to grow vertically on some sort of trellis system. Getting your plants off the ground takes some ingenuity (especially if you’re as cheap as I am) but it can be done. In addition to saving space, using a trellis can also save your veggies from white mold that often form on plants on the ground and from little critters on the hunt for a tasty snack. My back has been out of wack the last couple of weeks. Growing the cucumbers vertically will make harvesting them way easier! Instead of digging around on my hands and knees, I’ll be able to pick them at eye level. Win and win!

Trellis kits can be expensive so I knew they weren’t an option for me. Instead I decided to build my own.

I picked up some rabbit guard fencing, (it looks like chicken wire), metal stakes and zip ties to build my trellis structure. If you have a fence post driver it will come in handy.

Mr. AD drove two metal stakes into the ground on opposite sides of the raised bed, meaning we used four stakes in total.

We then rolled out enough of the rabbit guard to build an arch between the stakes. We secured the fencing to the stakes with three to four zip ties on each post. We made sure the tip ties were as tight as we could get them to avoid them shifting or moving. We then filled the raised bed with soil and transplanted our cucumbers at the base of the arched trellis on opposite sides of the bed. As they grow, we’ll likely have to train them to climb by wrapping the vines of the plant around the support structure.

I love the trellis method because it also frees up space for other plants. I transplanted my tomatoes from a pot to the center of the same bed. Since the cucumbers will be growing up instead of out, the center of the bed is perfect for the tomatoes! I stuck a circular wire trellis that I’ve had for a few years around the tomatoes to give them additional support.

This project probably took about an hour total. Mr. AD did it with me so it was fairly easy. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I have some concerns about whether the rabbit guard will be able to withstand the weight of the cucumbers once they climb but we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

If you have any advise for about building trellis systems, please feel free to share!! I’m thinking of doing another one for my strawberries this weekend.

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