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Trellis running NE to SW?

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Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  eflan on 1/15/2012, 3:25 pm

Hello again,

I have a pretty quick question (I hope). This will be my first year transitioning to a SFG - I've been restricted to a pure container garden the last several years.

I'll be putting in two 2'x3' boxes, one each along the east & south sides of my balcony. Though, to be fair the balcony is more SW facing with the building running along the NE side. The balcony is shared with a neighbour - I can't use the half on the western end. The railings are wrought iron and very sturdy.

I know a trellis is best on the north side - but if I tied some nylon netting or wire fence mesh to the railing would that work too? Or would it block too much of the sun from whatever I put in adjacent boxes? Four plants will need the support: two tomato plants and two melon plants. Would having those four big plants along either of those sides negatively impact the rest of the plants?

It would certainly help me out financially if I wouldn't need to build a large trellis this year as well figure out how to secure it (lol).


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Re: Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  staf74 on 1/15/2012, 3:47 pm

Hi Eflan,

From what I can gather, tying in to the balcony railings will make it certainly easier to create a makeshift trellis. I'm wondering if you can train the melons and tomatoes sideways as they grow and use more of the railing space. In effect you will be moving the plants out of the way and exposing the rest of the boxes to more sun. I think your current idea is great but it does sound like growing upwards will create too much shade for other things to flourish. They will grow but you might be disappointed in the rest of the harvest.

It is a great question actually. Is it possible for you to post a
picture? It makes it a lot easier to visualize the space and where the
shade might fall and assess some options. Are the boxes going to be located directly on concrete on the balcony?

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Re: Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  eflan on 1/15/2012, 5:22 pm

Here's a quick picture I took with my phone while facing roughly SE. The board sitting on the railing is 3' long, and from the box I haven't put together yet - easier to carry out a single board than a half constructed box.

The flooring is odd, I'm really not sure what it's made of. Some sort of black vinyl or plastic over (I assume) concrete. Whatever it is, it's squishy and it gets quite hot on a sunny day. There are gutters along the edge of the balcony.

The boxes will be raised about six inches off the ground.

And pay no mind to the tarragon on the table. She was doing fine until three days ago Sad

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Re: Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  staf74 on 1/15/2012, 6:41 pm

Thanks for the pic Very Happy

Some thoughts.

Have you thought about perhaps building beds that hug the perimeter of that balcony. Looking at that 3ft piece of wood, once you built two beds, you might take up all your space to move around also. Once you get going with SFG'ning, you are going to need 1) access to comfortably reach around, harvest and tend etc and 2) Space to still put a chair out there and watch the veggies grow as once you get going its so easy Very Happy

Just an idea, currently the two 3x2 beds you have in mind gives you 12 squares. If you went from roughly where that plastic chair is on the pic, looks like you could do a 5x2 bed up against the wall and then add on a 1x1ft wide bed all the way around hugging your balcony. I'm guessing the 5x2 bed would end roughly where that wood begins resting on the balcony, so you get another 3ft to the corner of the balcony. Then you come back with a 1ft box that comes along the balcony as far as you can go. Guessing another 5 ft perhaps.

That would give you 18 squares and space in between to tend easily. You could still get 12 squares if you only went 1x1 all the way around and I don't think you'd have any shading issues.

Remember, tomatoes and melons are both going to grow way over that balcony anyway, so you are going to have to build off it somehow even if you put them next to the balcony.

Something I have done which is more than sturdy enough to support tomato plants is to use 1 foot deep beds (which you don't have to fill BTW) and then attach a 6 ft piece of 2x2 inch wood pointing upwards to the bed itself. I use foot high beds as you can get 3 wood screws (pre-drill to avoid splitting) into it and makes the 6ft piece very sturdy. The tomato plants can be trained to grow up this.

Then you can put all your smaller plants closer to the balcony as their height won't interfere with the tomatoes / melons near the wall. Tomatoes don't really need a trellis as much as something like cukes would need.

What about some window boxes also that grip onto the balcony all the way around also? You can get more veggies in that space using that also.

Does this all make sense?

I apologize if it sounds like I'm redoing all your planning Embarassed Its just what I would do to maximize the space and still have it comfortable enough to enjoy Very Happy

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Re: Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  camprn on 1/15/2012, 6:58 pm

Some good ideas Staf... but I am curious about how the balcony itself is supported and attached to the building... I am wondering how much weight it could bear... Shocked Also, does your building have a flat roof?


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Re: Trellis running NE to SW?

Post  eflan on 1/15/2012, 8:15 pm

I had actually never thought about putting the boxes up against the wall. I had planned on just putting them along the railing in an L shape. Of course, by the end of the season any plants up against the wall would probably block out the view from my kitchen window too! I know they'd exceed the railing... I figured that for this season at least they can just flop back down or go sideways.

More expansion would have to wait for next year as I'm fairly sure that I'll be blowing my 'budget' as is. This year I'll end up with 16 squares (I'm planning on a 2x2 box for strawberries.... in fact its the only box that's 100% finished.)

No flat roof, and there's about a 6" overhang above the balcony so there's very minimal shading from the roof. The balcony itself is propped up by some brick pillars, and you're not even looking at half of it. It's a shared balcony though, and even though my neighbor doesn't use it (and he's given me permission to use it) I'd feel uncomfortable taking up some of his half.

In the past I've had anywhere from 10 to 15 big plastic pots hanging around with plants in them - not all of them are stacked up outside. Some are in my apartment at the moment, and there's a couple smaller ones hiding in that ridiculous table. Either way, I'll be using up a lot less space with these boxes, and I should be alright for weight. I'll ask anyway though.

I've considered window boxes, but shied away from them. Anything premade didn't look sturdy enough - the railing at the top is only a half inch thick, if that, and it didn't look like I'd be able to stabilize them too easily.

Maybe I'll just try the melons in the two north side squares and stick with determinate romas again this year. Or I could plop the indeterminate toms in a pot with an upside down cage along the wall. Probably one on each side of my chair!

Anyway, another question. I've searched Google a couple times, but couldn't find any numbers for how long the vines will grow on charentais melons. I see rave reviews on them... but no vine sizes. Are they the same as other melon plants, even though the fruits grow considerably smaller?

Thanks a lot for the suggestions - you're a doll

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