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Connecticut Garden Journal: Short on space? Grow these climbing vegetables vertically

Close-up of cucamelon fruit growing in hanging basket
Dorling Kindersley/ Will Heap/Getty Images
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Dorling Kindersley RF
The cucamelon fruits are about the size of a large grape and are striped like a watermelon. Their flavor and texture is tangy and crisp.

Many gardeners are either downsizing from their large vegetable gardens or have limited space to grow food. A good way to maximize your space is to grow vertically.

There are a number of climbing vegetables beyond the traditional pole beans and peas, that thrive during our hot summers and offer some interesting and unusual fruits.

Many gardeners love pole beans, but this Asian variety is really unique. The 'Red Noodle' yard-long bean climbs on a teepee or trellis producing beans that can grow a yard long, but are best picked when they're about 1-foot long. The beans are thin, burgundy colored and featured in many Asian recipes. It only takes a small handful of beans to make a meal.

I love spinach, but once the weather turns hot, our spinach bolts. There is an alternative. 'Malabar' spinach is a heat loving, climbing spinach that has red veins and stems. It looks fabulous on a trellis. The leaves have a spinach-like texture and may not taste exactly like spinach. They are best used cooked in recipes that require greens.

We all know cucumbers love the summer heat, but here's an unusual vining cucumber family plant that is fun to look at and eat. Cucamelons grow like regular cucumbers up a trellis or support. The plant has small leaves and small fruits. The cucamelon fruits are about the size of a large grape and are striped like a watermelon. Their flavor and texture is tangy and crisp. It's a fun plant to grow for kids and grandkids. Eat cucamelons fresh in salads, pickled or even dropped into your favorite cocktail.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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