Vine-crops, such as melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and gourds, aren’t always well-behaved. A single, mature melon plant can cover up to a hundred square feet of garden real estate, and because many gardeners already find space at a premium, they might not be able to grow as many vine-crops as they’d like. It’s sad to think that these delicious vegetables are taken off the menus of many gardeners simply because they don’t have the space to grow them.
Smart Pots can help!
If you too find yourself in this situation, consider growing squash, cucumbers, and other vine-crops in fabric aeration containers, such as Smart Pots, instead of in the garden. Your efforts will result in high-yields, without the need to weed or mulch. And, most importantly, you’ll get lots of veggies without having to sacrifice a ton of precious space in the garden.
Fabric aeration containers are ideal growing sites for vine-crops. They keep the roots well-aerated, and their porous nature prevents vine-crop roots from circling around in the pot and reducing plant vigor and growth.
Steps to vine-crop success
1. Most vine-crops require a minimum of six to eight hours of full sun for best performance. Position your fabric aeration containers where they’ll receive maximum sunlight. If you have limited sun exposure on your property, remember that fabric containers are lightweight and easy to move; simply drag or carry them from one spot to another to maximize the amount of light that reaches the vine-crops.
2. Pick the right pot size. Because most vine-crops produce a sizeable mass of roots, be sure to use an ample-sized Smart Pot to grow them. Growing squash plants in a tiny container is a recipe for disaster. Our Big Bag Bed is perfect for growing two to three plants, while the Big Bag Bed Jr. can support one or two vines. If you’re looking for something smaller, the Big Bag Bed Mini is just the right size for growing a single vine-crop as it is a 15-gallon container.
If you’re looking to grow just one cucumber plant or a squash plant, a 5-gallon Smart Pot will be the perfect fit. The more plants you want to grow, the larger the necessary pot size will be.
3. For growing squash, cucumbers, melons, and others, fill the containers with a 60/40 blend of compost and high-quality potting soil, and plant the seeds directly into the container as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Most vine-crops do not like to be transplanted, though planting nursery-grown transplants is another option, if you don’t want to start from seed.
4. Grow up or grow out. When growing squash and other vine-crops in containers, decide whether you want the vines to grow up or grow out. Supporting vertical vine growth requires a bit more work on your part, but it’s a great way to limit the amount of space needed to produce a good crop. Erect a bamboo trellis in the pot, or locate your fabric aeration container at the base of an existing garden pergola, fence, or trellis, and train the vines to grow up onto it. Cucumber plantings can create a tunnel of vines over a walkway or other area by using a section of concrete reinforcement fencing bent into an arch and training the vines to grow over it.
If you don’t want to go through the effort of trellising your vine-crops, simply allow them to ramble out of the Smart Pot and across the ground. They’ll take up more room than vertical growth, but there’s little effort required.
5. Maintain the vines and regularly harvest. Keep your growing squash plants and other vine-crops well-watered throughout the growing season. Large-fruited vine-crops, such as melons and pumpkins, require a lot of moisture for optimum yields.
As the plants begin to fruit, keep the vines regularly harvested. Cucumbers, in particular, will continue to produce fruits for many weeks, as long as the cucumbers are picked on a daily basis.