Pumpkin vines are vigorous and pumpkin fruits are heavy, so trellises must be substantial to support the plant as each fruit weighs from 10 to more than 100 pounds. Providing sturdy support, this trelllis will hold vines and fruits off the ground and make them accessible in a relatively small space. Best of all, it is made of recycled materials.
Build a Trellis
Obtain an old swing set of the two A-frames and a cross bar variety. For trellis material, check online sources like Freecycle.com for free items in your area.
Drill holes all the way through both pairs of the legs starting about 1 foot from the ground and at 1-foot intervals to the top.
Thread small cable or nylon rope tightly back and forth through the holes so several parallel lines run between the two sets of legs.
Make 2-foot diameter mounds of soil along each side of the A-frame trellis, below the bottom wire or rope. Place mounds no closer than 4 feet from one another.
Shape a bowl-like depression in the center of each mound and press five or six pumpkin seeds in each. Cover with 1 inch of soil and firm gently.
Water well and keep moist until seeds germinate (about a week). Pumpkins love heat so do not rush planting—direct sow only after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is quite warm.
Tie each vine loosely to the support with strips of soft cloth as soon as seedlings are tall enough to reach the first wire of your trellis. Continue training and tying as the vines grow, keeping them from crowding one another.
Pull fruits gently through vines to the underside of the trellis as they begin to form so they hang freely in the open space beneath. Here it will be easier for you to see and care for them as they mature.
Make Pumpkin Supports
Cut several squares from a scrap board (minimum 4 inches square, preferably 6 inches square).
Drill holes in corners and run long pieces of wire or heavy nylon string through each hole. Run from the top side of one hole, beneath the wood scrap and up through the hole diagonally opposite. Do the same for the other two holes.
Place pumpkins on the platforms as soon as they are baseball-sized and hang by tying them from the wires of the trellis.
Things You Will Need
- Old swing set
- 3/8 drill bit
- Cable or nylon rope
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cloth strips
- Scrap boards
- Wire or nylon string
- Pantyhose and recycled plastic netting from grocery produce work well for smaller fruits but are not generally roomy enough for large pumpkins. Use scraps of old T-shirts or cut down rubber inner tubes to make hammocks for those.
- If you cannot find a swing set, bolt two sets of scrap boards together at one end to create "A" shapes, then screw wood cross-pieces to those. Use 2-inch-thick lumber and make it as tall as possible.
- If you want giant pumpkins, grow them on the ground. Rigging support for a fruit weighing several hundred pounds may be asking for trouble. If it fails, the fruits may be smashed and could even injure you. Place them on a scrap board on the ground to avoid both rot and mishaps.
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