There are a whole heap of edibles that can save precious space by growing up! Here is a list of things you may want to try.
Warm Season Climbers
Climbing (pole) Beans
Pictured here is snake beans, our favourite to grow in the subtropics. There are loads of varieties around that will cover bare spaces quickly. The Purple king is a good one as is the climbing version of the blue lake.
Cucumbers aren’t natural climbers so you have to train them a little bit – the tend to want to head across the ground so redistribute them. We love spacemasters and traditional Lebanese cucumbers here
Yes you can make pumpkins climb! The will need a bit of extra support (I’ve seen bras and pantyhose) and do like more of a tunnel or a slight lift as opposed to a straight up and down. I’d recommend this for smaller varieties like the golden nugget. Give pumpkin tunnel a google to get some inspiration.
If you’ve ever had the walking zucchini then you may be interested to know that yes you can train them to go vertically. I find that it does make the plant weaker and more susceptible to snapping in our windy spot but if space is an issue then it may be a good solution. Use a stake (put it in before you plant to prevent root damage) and as it grows tie it to the stake.
Like the pumpkins you’ll need a bit of support when they actually start to set fruit.
Luffa (Loofah) and other Gourds
Grow your own sponge! We grow these every year mainly for shade for the chickens. You can eat the fruit when it’s young – as it gets older it turns fibrous.
Chances are if you ever grew up in a family who gardened you ate these (and you either love them or hate them). I find them best cooked to an inch of their life smothered in butter.
Cool Season Climbers
Sugar snaps, podded, snow, all love to climb. Our favourites are the purple podded peas, sugar snap cascadia and giant yukamo snow peas
Some people have a love hate relationship with nasturtiums. They can tend to take over but by gosh they make a beautiful living wall. I love planting these at the top and letting them cascade down. Although you can train them to go up.
Want to set and forget some climbers. Here are our go to ones we have growing.
Madagascar Climbing Beans
These are a good one if you like dried beans but can’t afford lots of space to grow them. The first year these are a bit slow, but once these get going they are prolific bearers. You could also try lablab or scarlet runner beans.
A good spinach alternative for warm climates. You can get green or red stem varieties.
Blue Butterfly Peas
These ones will die back over the cooler months but bounce back. The flowers are edible and produce a beautiful blue food dye and tea (add lemon juice and it turns pink!). The pods are said to be but I find them a bit tough.
These die back over the cooler months, but the corm that lives under ground will bounce back to life (if not, if you’ve grown it once and have toddlers you’ll likely have them pop up everywhere.