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Go vertical to save space when growing summer squash this season

A flowering pumpkin vine with green leaves and small yellow flowers climbs up a wire garden fence.
Summer squash, pumpkins and cucumber plants can take up a lot of garden real estate. If you're low on space, try growing them vertically.

Some garden plants grow quite large and take up lots of space, like cucumbers and pumpkins. But summer squash — like zucchini and yellow crookneck — can be grown vertically if you have limited real estate in your garden.

If you're really cramped for usable garden space, or you just want to downsize, many summer squash plants do well if you train them to grow vertically.

Planting and growing in this manner has other benefits besides saving garden space. Your plants will have fewer insect and disease issues, and the produce will be easier to harvest because they'll be at eye level and not hidden beneath large leaves and vines on the ground.

Summer squash varieties to grow vertically

Look for heirloom yellow and zucchini squash, like the yellow crookneckand theIncredible Escalators, which is a new variety from raised garden seeds. These zucchini plants grow vertically if you trellis them up.

Your trellis can be made from wire, metal or wood, as long as its sturdy, and use plant ties to attach the vine to the trellis. This method also helps if you've planted the squash in a shady spot in your garden; they'll climb the trellis and find the sun.

You can also grow winter squash in the same way, but with winter squash, take care that you find and plant the "single serving" types — ones like honey nut, butternut squash or some of the delicata squash are good examples.

A listener asks what to do with winter rye

Q: We have modest-sized gardens to grow our produce. We recently roto tilled, but made the transition to no-dig. But what should we do with the winter rye that we planted? Does we need to roto till that this year? - Gary, in Danby

A: Going no-dig is great as it has many benefits to the soil. The winter rye could be problematic, though. If you try to get rid of it by cutting it down, it will just keep growing back. What you can do is say, "This one last time, I'm going to roto-till," to kill off all the winter rye grass, then go fully no-dig next year.

If you're ready to dive fully into no-dig, though, you could try to solarize that winter rye grass. Here's how: Cut it down as low as possible, then put clear plastic over it and seal the plastic around the edges with rocks and boards. Let it "cook" for a number of days and hopefully that will rid your garden of the winter rye. Then come in with hay, straw and compost and commence to make the layers for a no-dig garden bed.

Q: I have a question about apple varieties that thrive in Vermont. We moved into a new place for us and we want to plant a few apple trees that will do well now and in the future with the changing climate. Another feature we're looking for are varieties that are good for juice and cider, cooking and eating fresh. Thanks for any advice you can offer. - Tory, via email

A: Cider-making has become very popular and are usually made from a blend of different types of apple varieties. Try planting trees of different types and then mixing and matching them yourself for cider-making.

Look for sharp or tart apples, like anything in the Macintosh or Baldwin families. Or you can plant apple trees with a sweeter taste to them, like Fujiand Gala, or the heirloom Cortland.

If you're going to grow some of the Macintoshes, plant disease-resistant ones like Liberty and Mac Free. These will be varieties you don't have to spray all summer long, and the trees will produce good-sized and good-tasting fruits.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your question via email to, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.