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May 20, 2016

Natural Plant Supports in the Garden

Moving away from the conventional. Towards natural, easy, less-work. Evolving.

When I just started gardening, about ten years ago, I joined the league of hardware store customers, buying plant supports, stakes, cages and other inventions, and then installing and removing these contraptions every gardening season. It is a lot of work.

Ideally, in my "ultimate" garden there will be no outsiders. Plants would thrive together relying on each other's community-valuable qualities, among which is the ability to support climbers.

Another thing to mention, is that in Florida we don't have to worry about "full-sun" requirements. If anything, there is too much full sun in the Summer, and for the most part in the Winter too. Shade is welcome in Florida gardens. And with shade come trees. Yes, it is beneficial to have trees in the garden.

Cucumbers are cool-loving plants. Naturally, we would want to start them from seed when the last frost had passed, something around the end of February. But in doing so we are inviting cucumber borers whose season coincides with this traditional cucumber planting time. Should we wait longer, and it is too hot for the cucumbers to thrive.

This year I experimented with seeding cucumbers in April, under the trees. Turns out this was a smart decision.

Here's five cucumber plants living happily in the same container under a wax myrtle tree. Even if I step outside now and the air temperature is in the 90's, it feels much cooler next to the fence under this tree. Cucumber does not seem to mind not having "full sun". On the opposite, it likes cool moist ground, plenty of small branches to grab on, and dappled shade.

The wire around the plant is to protect it from my ducks. If you don't have other two-legged hooligans in the garden, you don't need the wire.

This is very encouraging. And I will continue experimenting and seeding cucumbers under other trees throughout the summer. 

A side note - I believe planting in containers next to the trees is the way to go, versus digging the hole next to the tree roots. An additional benefit to having a container is that when you water the plant, some water will trickle down to the tree roots and feed the tree.

P.S. This cucumber is Sumter. I love this strain, it is tasty and resilient.


  1. Awesome solution to the Cucumber Problem. I've tried growing them in my screened patio in containers, but my cucumbers still died of whiteflies and too much sun. Next year, I'll try your idea. By the way, the papayas are doing great! I've given baby papaya trees to several of my co-teachers, who are also just now starting to garden and are learning. Thank you so much for your insightful posts.



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