Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I've been stringing up Russian cucumber , pumpkins and chokoes out back by staying one  knot ahead of the tendril.

Jute twine is cheap and as I mentioned before here I've found that when I cut back the creeper on its 'trellis' I can use the whole lot as mulch. Easy snip snip and drag into place.

I used to build trellises but aside from storm damage, here I cannot get stakes to hold themselves upright in the sand.

To get around that I've been ramming in a metal tubes I get form the tip then lash a higher stick to them. But that too will fall over, so I've build chest high rails on which I can rest any upright for climbers to climb on.

My angst is due to the fact that I seem to be growing and planting a lot of creepers and climbers....all of which want to go UP. Since I can never tell how much the climber will want to climb, I decided to 'wing' it and feed them twine. 

So I've been stretching twine about the air, between trees and whatever structure I may have in situ. While its thrilling, like a trapeze act in slow mode, the aerial journeys are looking like a spider web...and expressway for the fruits to come.

The scary part is that when the fruiting bodies form on the twine the weight is sure to increase sharply and I'd need to really start working on my macrame skills.But even if the twine breaks, there;'s plenty more twine where that came from, and I've found that when a vine falls it is easy to recover it and string it up again.

An early trellis.

Today's preference: strung up hither and yon.

So when the seed packet says, 'needs strong support' I'm still to test the network. But it's exciting. The garden comes up at you and crawls along its aerials toward you. Once my frangipanis grow high and strong enough I'll attach the twine pathways to them.

So far, despite Summer storms, the growth action is still above ground and in the air.With a few sticks holding the lines up, the setup is reminiscent of a old Brisbane clothes line -- before the Hills Hoist too over the backyards.They'd pivot to a height to suit hanging out before being elevated...and you'd add pole uprights along the line for increased support.

Views: 670

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I must try the twine idea Dave. I had bought trellising but it was a real pain in the behind unraveling the vine from it at the end of the season without damaging the bought trellis.

Something I could just cut down and the whole thing would compost would be much simpler.

This growing season I used no trellis at all - just let the plants ramble where they would and climb the basic frame I have in place. It worked well enough but looked messy and made it tricky to find the fruit at times.

The other advantage of taking the plant UPwards is that you have growing space underneath.I just cut back a 4 metre long twine trellis off the side of the veranda and the business of that worked really well. it was a series of parallel lines running between horizontal branches....Despite being pulled taut it survived the Summer without maintenance. 

It's all about twining from A to B for me, rather than having to build something in place. 

i've used tepees, bamboo uprights, lean toos, chicken wire, drop downs ('snakes and ladders') in the past...but if I can get the twine to hold the weight of the vine long enough, I think I'm ahead. Suits annuals of course but I've strung up the choko big time. 

I doubt that the option would suit passionfruit because of the way that vine grows.

Its' free form topiary....and while I'm keen on the method (not that there is much to it!) I can't find any references to its use as 'trellis' is presumed to be a structure. The Permies use trees in their landscape to support climbers but when you are using a lot of annuals thats' not so easy, and you still have to pull the used vine off the tree if you want to recycle the plant matter.

In traditional Melbourne inner city Italian gardens -- everything is cement bar the garden beds -- but  over them are wood or metal frames to support not only grape vines but other climbers. The logic is perfect. If I had the soil to hold this, I'd build these things because it would add greater form as I could use the uprights to string the vines along. 

In our mulch hungry universe,and verdant sub tropics,  we need our own work arounds. However I can't see a way around this other than by improvising -- one step ahead of the tendril. 

Damned fine idea, Dave! Figuring out how I can adapt it to my yard.

I was outback today and looking...looking..while doing some more stringing up...and I got scared because I spied another option.

If I ran el cheap rope from Tree A ( Silky Oak) to Tree B ( neighbour's overhanging Dawson River Bottle Brush) I'd get myself a sagging aerial to which i could run jute feeders to place all about.

Climbers anywhere!!!! 

One of my twines broke overnight but the mix of creepology -- choko + yam --kept the tributary aerial ...and all I had to  was replenish the join.

Overnight too a neighbour's palm frond collap

sed onto a feeder but didn't break it. So I stripped the frond and used it to stake  up the line way.

It's also so very exciting! These climbers are creeping about so very fast that I have to add pathways hither and yon.

Its' the Triffids!!! A shop of horrors....I'm serving the vegetable like a slave one string at a time.

ButI'm thinking I may also need a reserve of wider gauge jute.

Also the creepers LOVE jute.Best traction they can get.

Bamboo is useless as a climber. Absolutely are most metals and plastics. But jute is climb friendly...especially if you work at your macrame.

I am most impressed with your stringliness, good sir.  I might even have to have a crack at it myself. 

I'm confronted by the challenge that so many of my preferred plantings are of climbers and ramblers. Whats;' more I don't necessarily know their navigational preferences.

So I'm not building structures for them -- I'm improvising one twine at a time: one step ahead.

But the whole shebang has exploded much more than I imagined.I have lines of twine running every which way. And today I strung an old hose line almost the full width of the yard -- Silky Oak to Dawson River BB -- and started to run twine lines to it.

For example I have choko lines running 10 metres and each of my lines are chock full of flowers and forming veg. Harvested the second choko tonight and used it in a salsa.

Since climbers climb so quickly -- tendrils rule! -- it's a busy business keeping up.Totally without plan I just try to keep ahead of the aerial greenery.

I'm sure that in time I'll be able design this with a plan of sorts..but for now, anything goes-- if it goes up.

Another aspect about trellising and climbers is that bamboos and some other 'sticks' are useless for climbing because they don't offer traction. Jute is perfecto! So I can string up a tendril with confidence that the marriage will survive.

The next test is what happens when the fruiting bodies form , enlarge and engorge so that the weight on the line increases sharply...or invading possums decide to use them as traffic lanes. But then strung out like that, it's easier to fossick and harvest.

The trick is:

  1. Have plenty of twine. So stock up on rolls +++.
  2. Sticks matter. Fortunately i have sticks -- at or near 2 metres tall -- but I need more to do the push ups required. We're talking tree branches., rather than something commercial because there is better grip. It's remarkable how flexible twine+ sticks can be. (NOTE TO SELF: in future when cutting branches trim with these lengths in mind).

I suspect that I  could do with a thicker gauge twine....but for now, where necessary, I double up.


You could use a smaller-guage, untreated sisal rope (say 4mm) for the "backbone" of your set-up, attaching the standard twine to it. It will still break down in the elements, but just not as fast.

I buy the rope in bulk online from a shop down south for different projects (cat trees, parrot toys, etc.) I have previously bought from another Sydney shop but started getting rope that I suspect was treated, so I switched. Sometimes you'll get a better price from their eBay shop.

An alternative might be to braid your existing twine to strengthen it.

I must give sisal a try  if this rig doesn't work.But it's much more expensive... to then later throw away. Given my impulse habits, braiding may slow me down. If I could get better anchorage I could engineer upright posts to hang twine off like a maypole, but the sand here is brutal. I find that a vine itself is strong enough to maintain the reach even if the twine breaks. But then if the fruiting weight is heavy that's sure to test the laws of physics.

I've searched a lot online for examples of rope trellising and they're all precious structures engineered for climbing beans. In horticulture, chokos, NG Bean and the like are grown on t-frames or sort of roofs so that the fruit hangs down like jack-o-lanterns for easy harvest.

That or the structures are compact -- such as an outback dunny.

All are built before the plant climbs, whereas I feed twine to the climber as it grows.

But some climbers are grown for their tubers --such as yams -- so I mix up the vines when they're flying -- and I've found the yam vine to be very taught. ...while cucumbers are fragile; choko vines may be stronger but they are easily broken and recover quickly.

The main thing is that I try to keep ahead of the tendrils. Like bringing up baby.'Tis a exciting partnership.

I seem to be in the early phases of trellis building.

Like Lissa, I have only had limited success with the pre-fab trellises, so I've been experimenting with building free-standing or semi-free-standing trellises from my bamboo and using netting or twine for the vines to climb. I anchor them with a combination of tent-pegs and ties. So far, they seem to be holding up well.

I currently don't have much out there that I could run twine in between. I may look at putting some more permanent tie-off points around the place.

(I also find trellises very difficult to photograph!)

I may try using some of the sisal rope in the next version, as well.

The problem with bamboo -- at least fresh canes --is that plants can't climb up it easily. I'd suggest: not at all: they hate it. That's why twine is so useful. Climbers love it.

But any pre-made trellis presumes how the plants will grow and be kept in place like good greenery. My approach is to see what happens and stay one tie ahead. I have used single bamboo canes as uprights next to climbers but aside from the African yam I need to drop twine off that to enable climbing.

But then I had the problem of what happens when they  get to the top? I ran horizontal canes between two uprights but the plants world not grab on. That's when I started stringing the vines all over the place.

Very torturous.

The problem is when you string from A, where is B? I had an old frame  in the garden and that became the cog in the crude wheeling that followed. I have a tree, a chook pen fence, neighbours' trees & bushes, property fences, a next door cactus...

If I was doing it without these in reserve I'd use portable  long star posts and move them around to suit the growth habits.. Indeed that's what is on my shopping list: tall star posts...and to cut myself some more bamboo to use as struts to keep the lines up under the vine weight.The other trick is to run a rail the length of the bed -- hand rail height -- and use that to rest  higher uprights on (preferably old branches --sticks -- rather than bamboo canes) by lashing them to the rail...and string between them if necessary. But you can also train aclimber along the rail. Whos says it has to always climb upright? That way you can improvise more easily without having to build such high structures that are storm prone.

Bu=t hey: that's serious bamboo work there....I do have a bamboo trellis for my passion fruit... Its a ecosystem unto itself...and the possums appreciate it muchly.

Climbers will climb as far up as you will let them - or so it seems. Since I'm short, having the fruit 8 feet in the air is not conducive to eating. So I chop off my vines when the overtop the trellis. They produce laterals anyway. Whether it forces them into fruit I really don't know but I need to be able to pick the produce from ground level. I have put Bean stems downwards which they tolerate for a while but their desire is always to reach for the sky. You end up with a tangle and finding the pods is an exercise in spotting green pods among green stems.

I grew a native legume against the veranda on parallel pieces of twine and kept weaving it down  and it seemed happy enough. Now, I'm running climbers along these chest hail rails. It seems to me that all they want out of life is somewhere to go.

I'm there traffic warden.

Most of the lines I've put up are polycultural as the freeway is shared by two climbers at least-- choko plus yam; cucumber+ choko -- wrapped around one another like copulating snakes. I'm growing vine on vine, and the lashing together strengthens the line. Despite that they are flowering profusely....and the chokoes are setting fruits.

The NG beans suffered when I rejigged my layout but are coming back.

However, this all may be novel gardening in its way, but I cannot find its like so there must be a downside. It seems to me this is how vines work , otherwise how would Tarzan travel from A yo B?

If I wasn't doing this I would not be able to grow so many vines as the space required would  be too much. As I said, I had too much of a good thing. Vines. Vines. Vines...and I'm going for variety rather than productivity per plant.

When my frangipanis grow I'll put them to work as vine sentinels, but for now -- except south of my main structure -- I can grow vines without shading out the underneath. But it sure is gonna look eery when the lines are occupied fully by greenery. I then may have to deal with possum journeying along their detriment.

Similarly what am I going to do when the weight on the line rises sharply with fruiting? But then what do vines do in their natural state anyway? They clamber over and between trees and shrubs while hanging on for dear life.

Here's what a traditional Greek or Italian veg garden looks like in inner city Melbourne:

Ignore the stinging nettles in the beds but look at the 'design' . Of course, the logic is driven by grape vines but also Cucuzza (NG Bean) esp for Sicilians.

As part of gentrification process I rented in a succession of backyards like this in the seventies.Now they may be patios and 'outdoor rooms'...but originally they were very productive gardens.

Our complication is that we are in the sub tropics, have a larger choice of vinery and what grows, grows fast and furious.The Permies grow vines up and over their food forest trees  but I think that's hard to manage and harvest..and I certainly do not want a forest to begin with.Far too au natural.

While I'm higgledy piggledy, I suspect -- I hope -- there may be some structure on offer in time. As I say, I have the traditional clothesline in mind rather than a trellis. And most of our vine choices are annuals or they act like annuals. So we aren't talking about all the precious work one does with grape vines or the necessity for wire and steel or wood. And we are storm structures will come down like baby's cradle. 

Obviously twine gauge is sure to be an issue.But so far on what I've grown jute twine has performed well for a growing season and is holding up what's in the air at the moment.The choko+yam vine combo is particularly strong.

I could switch to clothesline line but (a) it won't have the traction  nor (b) be mulch-able when cut.

So with twine there is sure to be a very fine line: weight on the line, exposure to the elements, gauge, distance stretched, how much support/distance between 'sections', how much of the strength is taken up by the vine itself....

The underlying issue, nonetheless, is how does eat vine grow? And that's something I have to master in a sort of horses-for-courses way. Your standard legume is an easy harness. I love it on the seed packets where they write, "will need strong support'. That's like a dare.


Important note about adding photos:

Always add photos using the "From my computer" option, even if you are on a mobile phone or other device.


  • Add Photos
  • View All


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

© 2021   Created by Andrew Cumberland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service