Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

A feature I love about my outback is the system of aerials and ladders that support climbers of any type I plant.

In true polycultural bent I can run a climber UP almost anywhere and mix it with other plants at its base.

When finished with, climber stems and leaves make for good mulch, but always trim them for obedience.

As I have noted in earlier posts, I now attach the lattice to the bamboo pole with cheap clamps -- and while metal lattice works best as you can bend it to accommodate any climbing twirl,  it stores and tangles inconveniently when not in use so I prefer the ubiquitous plastic grill with occasional slits in the squares to enable better fixation.

This setup can survive gale force winds, whereas an erected single trellis wall will be prone to falling down as it won't wave & give  in the wind.

I learnt early that my sandy soil does not offer anchorage for permanent structures.

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Comment by Dave Riley on August 18, 2019 at 9:06

We use a shade cloth rectangle on our small above ground pool. Put it up and take it down.

I'd not use climbers because they drop leaves and aren't as responsive as you'd like in regard to shade.

That's why horrid palm trees were invented for poolside -- they don't shed leaves, only drop 'branches'!.

Another solution is to grow something between your aquatics and the Western Sun. But you need a mighty height and preferably quickly.

Been there/considered all this.

The shade sail won the competition and has served us wonderfully. We put it up and take it down to suit the preferred water temperature. And getting wet under its shade is glorious on a hot day.

Comment by Lily on August 18, 2019 at 8:32

This is amazing, and just the solution I’ve been looking for to get some cheap and pleasant shade over our pool (productive shade would be just a bonus!)  I have eaves I can attach to on one side and engage in some acrobatics to attach the other side as high as I can manage on the top of the golden cane palms on the downhill side of the pool; no one is using or wanting all that gorgeous sun and at the moment we have to wait until late afternoon to use the pool or risk getting fried.  

How far up are your aerials?  It's hard to get a sense of scale in the pictures.  Can you reach them all to harvest/prune them?  Do you have a recommendation for something vigorous that will run quite a way but would be okay being maybe five metres above my head for the most part? Beans for example won’t work, unless I want to make Dahl in the pool. XD Passionfruit is the main one I’m thinking of: it’ll provide some good shade, not too much leaf drop and then send down its fruit in waterproof sealed containers when it’s ready. I’m assuming passionfruit would float, too, although I’ve never tried. Hmm. Any other plant ideas for me?  And what thickness of rope would you usually use?

Comment by Dave Riley on August 13, 2019 at 8:54

Like me, Christa, you have the option of running aerials from and between trees. You may see the poles but off shot I've anchored the lines in trees as well as a couple of posts used for other purposes.

As for shading of climbers...if you can get the climber to climb they leave the shade behind. Climbers have evolved to do that -- seek out the sun by going up and over.

Comment by Christa on August 13, 2019 at 8:09

This is by far the best use of aerial space and a great deal of food can be harvested from this type of gardening.  Unfortunately there are only a few small areas left for me to locate pole growing places as I have too many trees canopies. 

Maybe knowing which climbing plants can tolerate shade may be better for me. The advantage of these poles is that they direct their vine growth to the sun. 

Comment by Dave Riley on August 13, 2019 at 0:05

When reviewing my penchant to create and rely on ladder trellises -- I see where I've been tweaking my rigging for 9 years.

The amazing part of the most recent adjustment was the use of cheap plastic spring clamps to attach the plastic grill trellis to the pole. These little darlins are cheap buys at emporiums, and they last long time in use -- even in all that sunshine.

I've noted before that for ease of storage the plastic trellis lengths are preferable to metal.

Just cut them into  5-6 squares wide drop-downs and keep reusing the lengths like you do the clamps.

Once the climbing or rambling plants decides to live it is  THEN I rig it with a ladder.

  • one pole
  • two clamps
  • length of trellis drop down.

As the plant grows I twine it into the grill often by snipping the plastic edges so that the stems can rest on the trellis.

It's Ok to trim feral stems but I am very forgiving and not at all anal.

One ladder can hold up several plants -- beans and tomatoes for instance - and their narrow singular profile will only cast a limited shadow  so that any plants behind will still receive their sunshine therapy.

Using these l;adders also enables you to grow more climbers than you would by relying on other means.

As a 'tomato cage' they work quite well so long as you attend to the threading and weaving about as the tomato plant grows...and you are aware how brittle tomato stems can be. For dedicated climbers like Trombonchino and gourds make sure fruiting is limited to the to of the climb and along the aerials lines.

With chokoes -- or beans like Madagascar -- keep trimming back the growth and feeding the tendrils where you want them to grow.

Once harvest is completed, pull down the lattice and remove the pole if necessary for storage. It sure helps to  have a supply of 2-3 metre long bamboo poles --although other sticks or metal stems will also work.  Thats' where conscious collecting begins.

For aerial -- cross -- ropes, cheap Polypropylene will service your needs for years --although old garden hoses also work well recycled on high.

[Garden hose walkways  on higher however, are much appreciated by rats and possums...especially if dogs are about. So make sure you keep the aerial routes away from your fruit trees.]

As a combo landscape effect, I reckon the outlook is stunning:

As an indication of  the rigging's effectiveness --  despite this Augusty weather -- with its relentlessly brutal westerlies -- nothing has fallen down. The ladders too, have survived many a November storm cell over the years.

The only ongoing challenge is replacing the bamboo poles every three- four years or so as they rot down. I tend to repair them by lashing cracked or splintered poles together.

But I am due for another visit to the feral bamboo patch near the intrastate railway line.

You 'could' embed your poles into the ground but they are likely to fall over. You want the rigging to give and move in the wind. The plants climbing it get used to the shift and allow for the waving about so they are not uprooted.

The other advantage of this over head rigging is that if you position the ladders with it in mind, you can generate focused shade during the Summer heat. This way you can effectively manage garden shadows.

That's' because none of this is permanent. Ladders can be erected and taken down according to shifting preference and need. Every thing moves about like pieces on a chess board.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 19, 2019 at 8:38

I should add that the poles are not embedded in the ground -- they simply rest on the surface. So they do indeed wave in a high wind. there is a lot of 'give' in the rigging.

This means that the bamboo poles last longer as they are less prone to rotting.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 18, 2019 at 17:42

Once they're 'up' then it is up to the aerials to take over. That's the trick. If any aerial line sags (too much), you simply prop it up.

Loofas aren't that heavy compared to Bottle Gourds and chokoes. Nonetheless, each ladder climb -- and each species -- is a new adventure.

Too heavy is pumpkins.

Too fiddly -- thus far -- are cucumbers. But I'm working on that.

You run two gardens: downstairs and a mezzanine.

Comment by Christa on April 18, 2019 at 17:35

Great to see individual plants in the photos.  Surprised to see the choko and loofa vine as I thought they might need a sturdy trellis.   It looks like rope from one high point to another with bamboo poles and attached trellis for each climber,  is all it needs to succeed. 

I tried this with some bean seeds you gave me once.  It would work better if I strung them up in the poinciana tree on the sunny side of the tree.  Soon as winter comes along it will allow more sunlight in.

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