How to create a magical and lush summer garden (even in Phoenix)

I'm a vertical gardening newbie -- here are some reasons to try it and some beginner fruiting vines I'd recommend for first timers!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was under the impression it was impossible to grow anything in the scorching summer heat here in Phoenix. But once I started paying attention to local gardening accounts on Instagram, I was surprised to see that some plants not only survive, they thrive here in the summer (likely with some shade).

While most plants require shade in the summertime, it’s possible to create shade with plants themselves. Apparently, sunflowers are a great way to do this, but what really got the wheels turning for me is seeing how fast a few fruit vines I planted started to grow rapidly.

Vining fruit plants are my new favorite thing to grow

At the beginning of June, I planted a few varieties of watermelon and cantaloupe seedlings in our raised garden bed. Online resources told me these were great plants to grow in the summer — and I’ll have to agree! Despite being allergic to their fruit (whoops), cantaloupe and watermelon are officially now my favorite summer garden plants.

I spent an afternoon watching videos and reading articles from a favorite local gardener Angela of Growing In the Garden. I quickly realized that the close-quarters spot I chose in the garden was not ideal, but didn’t worry too much. My little seedlings didn’t look like they were necessarily thriving.

But then after a week or two, my squirrely little transplants were exploding in length. There was only one thing that could get me out of this jam: vertical gardening.

Vertical gardening with vining fruit plants

Vertical gardening can seem pretty intimidating and trust me, I’m no expert at this point. I am, however, pleasantly surprised at how my first attempt is going. Thankfully, I learned about a material that makes vertical gardening easy and affordable.

At most home improvement stores there’s a material called steel remesh (usually by rebar and building supplies) and it comes in different lengths and sizes. It’s bendable but sturdy metal “ladder” and super cheap. Using this material to stake down in the dirt of the garden bed to create vine arches have been awesome

It’s added a beautiful and enchanting element to the garden as the vines and twirly tendrils grow across it. Not to mention — the plants seem pretty happy — which makes me happy. I can’t take credit for this idea though.

I recently picked up a few inspiring tips from the site I mentioned above, Angela has great YouTube content too. This video in particular was extremely helpful.

Vertical gardening is awesome because:

  • Grow more in less space
  • It’s beautiful
  • Sun and air reach the plant better
  • Easier to find fruits or vegetables on vine
  • Less pests
  • Creates shade

Gardening vertically is not only beautiful and efficient but it can also help shade other plants.

In fact, I took note of all the vertical gardening I saw at Epcot’s Living With the Land ride on our recent Disney World trip. I didn’t know so many things could grow vertically!

So what do you think? Will you ever try vertical gardening? Can’t wait to learn and share more of this new favorite with you!

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