Veggie Obelisks

Organic Gardening just got
a
lot easier

Many new product claims today seem too good to be true (and usually are). But every so often, a new product also comes along that changes how we do things.

Last week, after many years of research, trial, and error, we announced a new way to grow bigger and healthier veggies like tomatoes — more naturally, in less space, and with a fraction of the work. The containers, soil, and obelisks will all last for many years if properly cared for.

We’ve had a lot of interest in our veggie obelisks in the last week. It is gratifying that most of the interest comes from experienced gardeners. After years of struggling with inferior support systems and all of the trouble they cause, they are unbelieving at first, but then very interested. For less experienced gardeners, this system is a way of getting great results even in the first year.

Using this system, a single tomato plant grown properly can produce as much as an entire 4×8 ft garden full of tomato plants — with less work and less maintenance. The netting and sturdy construction allow us to use these in our parking lot where we have a constant deer presence. 

 

This didn’t happen overnight. At Canterbury Creek Gardens, we used to space tomatoes only 18 inches apart. Now we space our tomato plants about 8 to 10 feet apart and we harvest more, and better quality tomatoes from the same garden space. These plants are also easier to take care of because they are growing more naturally.

At Canterbury Creek Gardens, we have spent many hours developing methods of growing garden crops that makes them more nutritious. Our primary focus has always been to make the food we harvest the most nutritious and best tasting possible for ourselves and our CSA members. These same methods have also made our plants grow bigger and faster, so they need better support.

One of the most valuable lessons to learn from gardening is the bigger and healthier the plant, the better the food it provides.

Here are answers to some of the common questions, a summation of the benefits, and the costs and savings of this system.

Our compost piles are steaming because of the tremendous density of beneficial soil microbes.

M
uch Less but Much Better (and Weed-free) Soil
  1. Our living, compost based soil is teeming with microbes. Since soil biology is so instrumental to plant growth, The more biologically active your soil is, the less soil you need to get the same, or better, results.
  2. Our soil is naturally weed free because of our composting process that kills weed seeds and disease organisms. This same process develops extremely high populations of beneficial soil microbes.
  3. Our breathable containers allow more oxygen into the soil which further increases the beneficial microbial activities. These fiber pots have lasted over 10 years for us.
  4. Our fertilizer feeds the soil biology which feeds the plants. If your fertilizer does not improve soil health, other soil microbial benefits are lost (like growth hormones, and disease prevention compounds).

You can see below how little soil is needed to grow very large plants if the soil is alive and fertile. This plant measured 12 ft wide x 7 feet tall x 5 feet thick — big enough to fill a large raised bed and more, using a fraction of the soil.

And, less soil means less weeding.
July planted tomatoes

 

 

Growing vertically saves space, time and extra work

  1. Vining crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, pole beans and peas, require  a lot of physical space to grow.
  2. Using vertical space allows you to get much more production from the same garden space.
  3. These vining plants growing vertically have fewer disease and insect problems because of better air circulation.
  4. Growing vertically makes harvesting  and maintenance faster and easier.
 

Bigger, more productive plants need a bigger, better, and stronger support system.

  1. One obelisk has up to 100 square feet of area for the vines to grow.
  2. One obelisk has the same space for vines to grow as a 10 x 10 foot raised bed.
  3. One obelisk has the same vertical space as two 6 x 8 foot trellises.
  4. These obelisks, with their arch construction, are structurally stronger than trellises and strong enough to support bigger, more productive plants.
  5. The height of these obelisks is adjustable.
  6. These obelisks are mage from galvanized steel, and are also very durable.

The supposedly “compact” tomato plant shown below grew to about 6 ft in diameter about 6 weeks after it was planted.

Since this support system matches the plant growth habit, the plant was growing more naturally — and because the plant was growing more naturally, we spent only a few minutes of maintenance to get the plant to this size.

This was a prototype last year and we have since eliminated the small white starter trellis.

Above is a single tomato plant grown using our obelisk and fiber pot system. After only 8 weeks, in late July, tomatoes are beginning to ripen. We harvested the last tomatoes from this plant on November 10th. That is well over 3 months of heavy harvesting. We picked many peck baskets of tomatoes off of this plant last year.
This spring, we will simply plant another tomato in the same pot and start all over again.
This shows a tomato plant after four weeks of growth. As the season progressed, this plant filled out the obelisk.
Our latest accessory is a wooden enclosure for the breathable pot. This becomes a self contained planter & support system — great for patios and decks when ground stakes are not an option.
  Obelisk Costs

The retail price for our Veggie Obelisks is $159.00. This includes soil ($68 value), large container, obelisks, and netting. We have component prices available here if desired.

What you get

 

Retail Cost
One USA made breathable fiber pot. $     29.99
Living, compost based potting soil – 4 bags $     67.96
Obelisk hoops – 2 $     16.00
Pipe extensions – 4 $     14.00
Connecting clips – 4 $       6.00
16 feet of veggie netting $     15.84
4 ground stakes and ground plates $     18.00
$   167.79
 Cost for the above package
$  159.00
Optional Wood Box Kits
Wooden Box with treated lumber $     60.00
Wooden Box with cedar wood $   129.00

Compare this to the cost of a DIY 8″ raised bed, not including labor

Materials
4×8 wood frame & hardware $   75.00
Soil – 1 cubic yard $   50.00
Soil Delivery $   40.00
Soil amendments $   30.00
$ 195.00
Labor
building frame
moving 1 yard (1 ton) of soil
preparing soil
weeding
extra maintenance due to poor support system