Gardening is an activity that millions of people around the world enjoy. Unfortunately, there are several millions more who are unable to garden because of their current living conditions; they reside in one of the many concrete jungles that make up metropolitan urban areas. Thankfully, a handful of the heartiest urban gardeners were able to devise methods of overcoming the multitude of obstacles that face people in their living conditions, such as container gardening, companion gardening, and vertical gardening, which we will be discussing today.
Vertical gardens require very little horizontal space. As long as you can continue building the garden in an upward fashion, the sky is literally the limit. Vertical gardening is gaining momentum in urban centers all around the world. They are an environmentally friendly option for improving the “greenery” of unappealing aesthetics associated with dull urban cosmetics.
You can plant a vertical garden almost anywhere, because you will be providing the containers and the soil to create edible walls of food around your house. If you’ve never attempted vertical gardening, have no fear, we are here to share a wealth of information, so hold on tight!
What is Vertical Gardening?
Have you ever seen climbing plants growing on a trellis? Well, vertical gardening is basically the same thing, only on steroids. Instead of building trellises to allow climbing plants the best opportunity to grow up a wall, vertical gardening incorporates any and all types of plants, regardless of vines or the ability to climb. It is an innovative concept that has the ability to produce high yields if done correctly.
As mentioned earlier, vertical gardens require much less horizontal space to grow, this also makes them much easier to harvest, as you can usually stand in one place and harvest from each container as you make your way to the top of that part of the garden. This results in a much better and less exhaustive maintenance program for the garden as well. That being said, vertical gardens do have some limitations:
–They need plenty of sunlight
–While there are no standard height requirements/restrictions, the taller the garden, the harder it will be to maintain. Make sure you can reach the top container of each row.
–The durability of the support system must be able to accommodate everything.
–The exterior wall the vertical garden grows on may need to be protected from excessive moisture as there will be plenty of it from watering the plants. Use polyurethane sheeting if necessary.
Even with these limitations, vertical gardening is very flexible and productive. It is flexible in that it can be placed almost anywhere, and you can grow anything you want to grow in them. Obviously certain plants are going to perform better in a vertical garden than others; you may not want to grow corn, watermelons, pumpkins, or plants of a similar nature, as these will occupy too much of the already limited space that is available.
There are several benefits and advantages to using vertical gardens, aside from maximizing the use of limited space:
–Easier maintenance—watering the plants, fertilizing them, pruning and harvesting are all easier to accomplish because the plants are all in one vertical row, rather than spread out over the ground. They will be at a height easier to reach, which will save years of wear and tear on your back.
–Improved air circulation—since the plants are above the ground they will receive better air circulation which should result in fewer pest problems, and in turn, healthier plants overall.
–Protection from predation—with your plants off the ground and growing vertically, there should be less damage from wild animals and neighboring pets.
–Scientific research indicates plants improve air quality, both inside and outside, so just having a garden should improve your overall health.
–Natural shading—the vertical garden can be established in such a way to provide shade to a given area, thereby helping to regulate temperatures and keep the spot cool.
How to Get Started with Vertical Gardening:
First things first, you need to pick a spot for your vertical garden to grow. You can place them anywhere, just remember to make sure the spot chosen has access to plenty of sunlight; very few plants grow without it. Do a little research on vertical gardening ideas and you will find a few “free floating” concepts that allow the gardener to alter the position of the garden throughout the season, maximizing the use of sunlight and changing the scenery from time to time.
Vertical Gardening Options:
In this day and age, you can purchase prefabricated vertical gardening kits. These kits do provide some great options, but they aren’t always the right DIY project for the space you have available. You can use any vertical standing surface available, stationary or moveable. You can buy containers, or build them out of PVC pipe, old gutter systems, plastic bottles, etc., if you can repurpose it, you can use it!
Helpful Hint: In the event you are putting together a mobile vertical garden, you should focus on using lightweight products as they will be easier to move as part of the system; heavier objects may cause wear and tear on other parts of the system as it is removed, thereby requiring much more maintenance than would otherwise be necessary.
What Plants to Grow:
There are several factors that will determine which plants will grow best in your vertical garden; exposure to sunlight, space available, and what you like to eat are just a few of the more important ones to address. Plants that are prolific in the shade should be grown indoors, plants that grow well in semi-shaded areas should be setup out on the balcony, and those that require direct sunlight should be grown on a south facing (in the Northern hemisphere) wall if possible. If you are new to gardening in general, then you can also consult the horticulturist at your local nursery to determine what grows best in the region you reside in.
Helpful Hint: The position of your plants within the vertical garden is a very important factor to consider. Taller plants should be placed on the upper sections of the vertical gardening; as plants begin to grow, taller plants will reduce the amount of sunlight available to those growing behind them, or beneath them.
Let’s Get Growing:
Take an empty container and fill it with high quality gardening soil. Vertical gardens will work best if the seeds are germinated before being planted, so get them started before the garden is ready for them. Always use heirloom seeds in your vertical garden. Watering can be done through a drip system if preferred, but a traditional garden hose will do the trick. Add fertilizer as required by the guide for the specific plant being grown.
Helpful Hints: Indoor plants should be watered in the early morning, allowing them all day to make use of the water. Outdoor plants should be watered at least once a day, provided the soil is dry and it hasn’t rained overnight. All containers for plants should incorporate good drainage. Prune your plants on a regular basis.