Squashes and melons are some of the most rewarding summer crops to plant. But vining types can take up a lot of garden space. So why not grow them on trellises instead of along the ground? After all, we vertically train other trailing edibles, such as tomatoes and string beans. And because there are so many tasty squashes, you might even make room for more than one kind by growing them vertically.
In Sunset's test garden, we planted 'Trombetta', a summer-squash variety, and trained it over an 8-foot-tall arched metal trellis.
Four plants (two on each side) quickly covered the structure and yielded dozens of yellow-green squash up to 3 feet long (though this type is best at 12 to 16 inches long ― it remains tender up to about 30 inches, then turns tough).
For visual appeal alone, the growing method scored points among garden visitors ― the long green fruits dangled from the tops and sides of the trellis.
Besides saving space, we found other practical reasons to grow these crops on trellises: The plants were more exposed to sunlight and air, so they were less troubled by mildew and other diseases. And since most of the fruits dangled off the ground, they were less susceptible to rotting.
Many melons can also thrive on a trellis. But because they're heavy, you'll need to support them with cotton or nylon slings.