Vertical Vegetable Gardens

Introduction to Vertical Vegetable Gardens:

Vertical gardens are a great option for the urban gardener when growing space is at a premium. You would be amazed at how many vegetables can actually be grown using untraditional methods. If you have ever been interested in starting your own vegetable garden, but don't think you have enough space to pull it off, you need to read this article!

Unlike most traditional gardens where you are usually only limited by your ambition, growing vertical vegetable gardens does require a little more creativity and ingenuity because you have fewer available resources to work with. This doesn't mean that you have any less chance of success. For the most part you can grow just about the same amount of veggies as you would in a regular garden.

Location for Your Vertical Vegetable Gardens:

Location, Location, Location: The biggest issue with vertical gardens is deciding where you are going to grow them. In fact, the amount of sunlight your space gets is by far the single biggest factor that will determine what plants you will be able to grow.

If your balcony or rooftop is unfortunately covered by shade for a big part of the day, your choices will be limited and you should focus on leafy type vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage. If your growing area is fortunate enough to have at least 6 to 8 hours a day of sunshine, then you have an even greater selection of vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.

Container Gardening: With vertical vegetable gardens, containers become essential to making any plan work. You will find that you can grow just about any vegetable in containers, provided the container is big enough to support the plant, and if needed, you have the proper stakes to let it grow up. A lot of people already use 5 gallon buckets, or other similar containers for growing tomatoes and peppers.

Containers give the gardener the ability to control each plant's growing environment separately from the others and growing in containers gives you flexibility and mobility when needed. If one growing location isn’t working out so well for a particular plant, you can easily just carry or wheel it to a new site. Containers also work well with shelves, as you can stack plants on different tiers, allowing your vertical gardens to grow up instead of out.

Shelving for Vertical Vegetable Gardens:

There are many shelving options design specifically for plants, and even for vertical vegetable gardens. The best shelf options are either slatted or wire shelves, because they will allow for increased airflow between the tiers, which is essential for helping to prevent mold and fungus growth.

Open shelves, as they are sometimes called, also help conserve water because you typically water from the top down, and any excess water from the top plants and containers will trickle down to the lower levels rather than being wasted.

If you are growing vine veggies, or plants that get very tall and need support, there are various types of trellises on the market that will also aid you in making the most out of your vertical gardens. Trellises are a fantastic way to take any garden vertical and save precious floor space.

Companion Vertical Vegetable Gardens:

One interesting way of maximizing limited space was actually pioneered by the native Americans and it is commonly called The Three Sisters approach. The concept is actually very simple and very ingenious. Native Americans used to grow corn (maize) as their primary crop, and as the corn stalk grew tall, they would plant bean plants next to the corn and use the stalks as supports for the vines. Then on the ground, they would plants squashes that would take advantage of the shade the corn stalks provided. In return, the spiny vines of the squash plants would help protect the other plants from pests that would feed on them.

This is an amazing use of space and a perfect example of how you can maximize limited space. For more information on this method of planting, see one of our articles on companion vegetable planting.

If shelving and trellises are not your thing, another aesthetically pleasing option is the use of hanging baskets. Hanging baskets come in a wide range of colors and sizes and they are an excellent way to take your vertical gardens up.

Building Your Own Vertical Vegetable Gardens:

If you are lacking for hanging locations, you can easily erect a multiple tiered hanging rack for your baskets out of basic items found at any hardware store, such as pvc. If you extra creative with your design, you can even incorporate wheels and give yourself the ability to move the rack around for better light, or just to make managing the plants easier.

There are a lot of great and useful tips and techniques that you can employ when designing your own vertical gardens. Hopefully the ideas in this article will stir your imagination and get you started today! There are countless resources available for urban gardeners both online and in print form.

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Vertical Vegetable Gardens
Vertical Vegetable Gardens
Vertical Vegetable Gardens
Vertical Vegetable Gardens
Vertical Vegetable Gardens