Vertical vegetable gardening is a growing trend, not only for those who are spacially challenged, but also for those ardent gardeners who want to employ all available space to its maximum capacity (have you ever met a gardener who didn’t?).
(Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch a few videos on the subject).
Vertical gardening can be as simple or as imaginative as you wish or have the time for. Initially, this method was used by city gardeners who had limited space but it’s great for using up those awkward areas in any plot.
Like any type of vegetable gardening the place to start with vertical gardening is by planning carefully what to grow. As usual, its better to grow the type of vegetables your family like. Then look at the space available.
Remember, your plants will need at least six hours of sun a day. If your chosen spot provides limited sunlight this will impact upon the choice of vegetables grown. Leafy vegetables (e.g. lettuce or cabbage) don’t need as much sun as tomatoes or peppers. It’s also easier if you have a source of water close by and that your plants are not competing with trees or shrubs for sunlight and water.
To accomplish your vertical garden you can use shelves, hanging baskets, containers or trellises. Better still a combination of them all to suit your area is the better approach.
Most vegetables will grow in a container. These do not have to be bought specially. You can reuse things you already have; for example, large buckets or coffee cans, old wash tubs, old pans, wooden crates. The important thing to remember is that whatever container you use it needs to have adequate drainage.
If the vegetable planted in the tub can be trained to grow upwards then you will need some support like a trellis. You don’t have to buy trellis you can use other plants for support like sun flowers or corn stalks. You might place your tub next to a fence and let that be the support or if you have an old step ladder let the vegetable climb up it. The ladder works well for veg with heavier fruits (pumpkins / squashes) as when they develop you can sit them on the rungs so they don’t snap from the vine.
Alternatively, you’ll have to come up with a sling arrangement (old tights work well) to keep the squashes attached to the plant. Most importantly, whatever type of support you choose to use, make sure it is stable and put it in place at the same time as planting the seed or seedling. Once your vegetable has started to grow, disturbing it to put in support could damage the root system or the plant stems can become heavy, if you leave it too late, and break.
To fully utilise your garden area you can (if not growing climbing vegetables) arrange the containers on shelves. It is better if the shelves are slatted then any excess water can run through and there will be better air circulation which will ensure healthier plants.
Hanging baskets are ideal for trailing vegetables that don’t bear heavy produce, e.g. cherry tomatoes or peppers. They are great for using if you have a balcony or do not wish to have shelving. They look beautiful as well as being useful. Watering must be undertaken every day to ensure they don’t dry out.
So not only does vertical gardening optimise your gardening space or allow you to grow even more varieties of vegetables, it makes the vegetables easier to reach when harvesting them. As you are growing vegetables off the ground, mould, crawling insects / pests and soil-borne diseases won’t get a hold. Growing in containers means there is less soil surface area therefore less weeding – result!
More Vertical Vegetable Gardening Ideas
Vertical Vegetable Gardening Videos
There are no hard and fast rules to this type of gardening, just go with what works for you and what you have available. You just have to believe it’s possible and use your imagination.