Trellising for Shade

Using Trellises and Beans to create shade in your Garden

Because this summer will be a very hot one, get your water into place now. Lay down irrigation pipes, but also ensure that you have shade in place. Last summer I have all my shade props align East – West  with the idea that shade would come into the areas behind those props. Usually I’d have some kind of climbing bean going up 10 feet high. But as you can see from the diagram below, in high summer with the sun directly above you, there’s not much shade.

E-W aligned trellis with shade at midday

So this year I’m aligning my shade props to have North – South. That way, when the sun is in the East and lower, the shade props are giving plants on either side a break as the sun travels over head.

In the morning, it will look like this;

N-S aligned trellis with shade in the morning

And in the afternoon, like this.

N-S aligned trellis for shade inthe afternoon

The idea here is to try and half the pain and water vigourously in the morning and the afternoon.


Why Don’t I Get Flowers on my Tomatoes?


Flowers are where we get fruit. Making a flower is a sign of a healthy plant and making lots of flowers is a good sign as to the sort of yield you are going to get. If you have put lots of compost and manure into your soil, your plants should be able to pick up the nutrients that they need.

I thought that I had done that with my tomato plants. Lots of good quality compost as well as some pea straw that had been breaking down in the chicken run. Rain had come through at fairly regular intervals and the plants themselves looked in rude health with lots of leaf growth. I was looking forward to flowers and then not long after fruit. The flowers came through, but then they fell off before they started to set.

tomatoflowersremovedThe flowers had fallen off just at the point where they joined onto the stem. This was a problem that was occurring on all the tomato plants so I needed to sort it out. So why don’t you get flowers on tomatoes?

The most important trace elements in flower production are calcium and potassium. You need water to transport this where it is needed in the plants. So I made a concoction of lime (about a handful per plant) and potash (half a handful) and mixed that with 5 gallons of water. The lime provides the calcium and the potash provides the potassium. You could put these powders around the base of the tomato plant and then water it in, but I decided to do it all in one hit.

You should try very hard to avoid getting this mix on the leaves of the tomato plants because they will get burnt. What should then happen is that the next batch of tomato flowers will be more vigourous (from the lime) and you should get better and more fruit because of the phosphate from the potash.

Companion Planting for Tomato


Tomatoes are the most common plant to find in a home veggie garden. What should you grow next or near to them in order to get the best results?

Companion planting is art as much as it is science. The point of companion planting is to find plants whose properties of smell or chemicals that they release into the soil benefit or retard development in their neighbours and by neighbours I mean within 30 inches  from each other.

I’d be interested in what experiences you have had with companion planting tomatoes. Some people will disagree which side of the ledger beetroot should be on or even beans belong here.

This infographic is a tomato companion planting guide which shows you 9 good and 9 bad companions for your tomato plants. Basil has been shown to increase yields by 20% (according to this paper) but the basil plant also benefits from being close to tomato. And of course they are natural companions in the kitchen as well.