Vertical Gardens: A Way to Grow Food Sustainably
Vertical gardening is the practice of growing plants in less space and with the use of less water than traditional gardening practices. In its simplest explanation, vertical gardening is a method of gardening where plants grow upwards with support from a vertical structure. Instead of planting seeds and bedding plants in the ground, they can grow in a vertical setup.
While almost any fruit or vegetable can be grown vertically with the correct setup, the more commonly vertically-grown plants include:
- Small squash
We believe vertical gardening provides a sustainable way to grow healthy and nutritious food. We also think sustainable living practices are essential to preserving our planet's ability to feed and nourish all of its inhabitants for generations to come.
Sustainable Benefits of a Vertical Garden
Vertical gardening is a key to sustainable food production because it allows us to grow more food with fewer resources. Some examples of this include:
- Vertical gardens use less water than traditional gardens; this makes them a more sustainable way to garden.
- Vertical gardens take up less space than traditional gardens, allowing you to grow more crops in a smaller area.
- Vertical gardens produce more food than traditional gardens, making them a more efficient way to garden.
Types of Vertical Gardens
Vertical gardening is a garden where plants are grown in containers that stack on top of each other. Vertical gardens are great because they take up less room than traditional vegetable or herb gardens and use significantly less water. Vertical farming often produces more crops in less space than conventional farming, making it a key to sustainable food production.
Different Vertical Garden Set-Ups
Different types of vertical garden setups can be employed. They vary and are easily customized to meet an individual's unique needs, space, and equipment availability. They can easily range in size from a small patio garden to a full-scale commercial agricultural operation. Whichever option you choose, you should expect to use less water and land than with a traditional-style garden.
The most common type of vertical garden is the hanging garden. This style uses baskets or other containers that hang from a support structure. Perfect for any gardener, especially ones with minimal outdoor space, a hanging basket is an ideal way to start benefiting from sustainable gardening practices.
A few crops to consider for a hanging basket garden include:
- Nasturtiums and pansies (edible flowers!)
Vertical Wall Garden
Vertical wall gardens are another popular type of vertical garden. These gardens use planters that are attached to walls or fences. Window boxes are also a type of vertical garden. Vertical gardens can be made from any container, as long as it has drainage holes and can be watered easily.
Setting up a vertical wall garden will take a bit more time and equipment than needed for a hanging basket, but it will yield more nutritious plants. This garden style is perfect for climbing plants and ones where it's best to keep the fruit up off the ground when growing.
Examples of crops that can be cultivated with a vertical garden wall include:
- Pole beans
A-Frame Vertical Garden
Also called a trellis garden, an A-frame support is perfect for maximizing plants that prefer to drape rather than climb, such as strawberries, cherry tomatoes or snap peas and beans. We rely on our A-frame gutter gardens to grow our strawberries, snap peas, beans, tomatoes,lettuce, spinach and basil.
The benefits we have found in growing with this type of vertical system is that you plant and harvest standing up which greatly reduces the physical strains of gardening.
We have greater control over our crops due to climate change. The troughs have drainage holes which prevents the growing medium from getting oversaturated or flooded if there are long periods of extreme rains. If there are drought conditions, with the use of a drip irrigation system, minimal water is required to keep the plants thriving.
Slugs, rabbits and other garden pests are not able to reach the produce growing higher up off the ground which is a huge win for our strawberry crop!
How to Start a Vertical Garden
If you're interested in starting a vertical garden, there are a few things you'll need to do to get started. Here are some tips to help get you started:
1. Choose the right location for your vertical garden.
Vertical gardens can be placed almost anywhere, but choosing a spot with plenty of sunlight is essential. Ideally, areas that get 8 - 10 hours of sunlight should be sufficient.
2. Select the right plants for your vertical garden.
Not all plants are suitable for growing in a vertical garden, so be sure to choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you provide. As mentioned earlier, strawberries, beans, herbs and peas are perfect for trying to grow vertically.
Plants that need deep soil or, produce heavy fruit, are not recommended for vertical gardening. Root vegetables like carrots or turnips and things like potatoes, pumpkins and watermelon are better grown in the ground or a raised garden bed.
3. Get creative with your vertical garden design.
There are many different ways to create a vertical garden, so be sure to experiment until you find a plan that works for you.
4. Vertical gardens require regular maintenance.
Be sure to water your plants regularly and fertilize them as needed to keep them healthy and happy. While a plant in a vertical garden requires less water overall to thrive, they will require shorter intervals between watering than in-ground crops.
A drip irrigation system is highly recommended for all types of gardening as it reduces labour and conserves water by dispersing the water to the plant roots rather than saturating the whole ground and depleting the nutrients in the soil.
Vertical gardens are a great way to garden in a small amount of space and contribute to better sustainability in food production. They offer many benefits, including using less water and space than traditional gardening practices.
Vertical gardens can be placed almost anywhere. If you're looking for a way to grow your own food with minimal space, water and labour then be sure to try vertical gardening.