Vertical Gardening 101

Out of horizontal gardening space? Go vertical! With spring on the way it is an exciting time for us gardeners. We start planning what to put where, we get our seedlings going and become all excited about the wonderful crops we will soon harvest. We can’t wait to enjoy our sweet cherry tomatoes, our hearty beets and our crisp lettuce and celery.

It is not all sunshine and great yields though

Besides getting conditions just right, another problem we face is where to put everything. I have been growing my own food for a few years and every year I plant a bigger variety – but there is only so much space in my backyard. I have always had to limit what I grow – until this year, when I discovered something amazing.

Gardens do not only grow on the groundvertical garden

Yes, you can even have a garden in an alleyway, on a fence or on your walls. Vertical gardens are not only an excellent way of getting additional gardening space, they are also a wonderful way of making an ugly wall look beautiful, and starting a vertical garden is quite simple. Here are some tips:

Find a wall or fence that faces south. Most veg need a good few hours of sunlight every day, and if they face north you are going to pick up problems.

Choose your containers. You could build a frame and containers out of plywood, you could nail plant holders to the wall, or you could use woolly pockets, which are made of recycled plastic sewn into large bags and mounted to the wall with grommets. A friend of mine put shelving up at an angle and put smallish dustbins in. She grows beautiful potatoes and so much more this way. You could even attach old bottles to fences.

Decide what you are planting, and plant it. A good place to start is planting herbs like basil and mint, and also chillies and lettuce. Once you become more experienced, why not try tomatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. If you are planting root vegetables like carrots or beets, make sure you have at least a foot and a half of soil. Almost everything else is the same as horizontal gardening, not nearly as difficult as what people may think.

Experiment. As with any garden, don’t be afraid to try out new things. Every crop relies on a great many things like climate, soil, nutrients and good quality seeds. Nothing is set in stone and your vertical garden certainly shouldn’t be.

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