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Vertical Veg Gardens, Living Walls & Herbs - Even In Small Spaces!

A vertical garden is a vertically suspended panel on which plants are grown. These unique structures can either be freestanding or attached to a wall. These vertical structures of plant life can be as small as a picture frame or massive enough to cover an entire wall.

Using empty wall space in creative ways can make all the difference in an apartment or small home and it can work in a garden too! Vertical gardens encourage fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers to grow up instead of down on the ground, by means of some kind of support or structure.

The best edible plants for growing in a vertical garden have climbing or vining habits, like cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans, peas, and even a variety of squash and pumpkins. You can add vining flowers to your vertical gardens too!

Advantages of vertical gardens;

  • Disease prevention

  • Ease of harvest (no bending over)

  • Higher yield

  • More shapely produce (no flat side from laying on the ground)

  • Visual interest or even privacy

  • Portability; some container systems can be moved to follow available sun

  • Controlling invasive or wide-spreading plants like squash vines

  • Creates shelter for shade-loving plants (or people)

Connecting To Nature

We all desire a connection with nature and studies show that people who have easy access to views of greenery or nature exhibit greater creativity and overall mental health. An interior herb garden or green wall could be that nature connection you are looking for.

Create A Vertical Vegetable Garden - RHS expert Alexandra Baulkwill

Create a vegetable wall for fresh produce on a daily basis.

Choosing the site

A south-facing wall will receive the full heat of summer sun for most of the day, which has both benefits and limitations. Walls that are southwest- and west-facing will also be suitable for container vegetable growing.

Materials needed

Ensure the wall is sound, and clean of debris before starting. Take the wall measurements and select mesh or trellis work that will be strong enough to support the chosen quantity of containers and wet compost. It should also allow plants either to climb or cling as they grow. Expanded metal was used in this instance, its galvanized finish producing a contemporary feel. Fix 5 x 5cm (2 x 2 in) timber battens at suitable intervals for securing the mesh. Battens hold the mesh away from the wall, allowing air to circulate and making space to tie in plants and attach containers. Fix mesh to the timber frame with staples at regular intervals. This will produce an expanse of mesh covering the face of the wall. The structure is now ready for planting up.

Preparing containers

Almost anything can be used as a container. Old catering tins of tomatoes, oil and olives make decorative pots when their labelling is removed. Drainage holes in the bottom of containers are essential and can easily be made with a drill. Many types of tin have seams running down from top to bottom. Ideally, aim to place these against the mesh; drill two holes either side for the garden wire that will thread through and support the container. For extra security two more holes at the base of the tin can be made; these are useful when pots are positioned at the top of the wall, where they are more likely to catch the wind. If adding extra holes remember to thread the attaching wire through before filling with compost.

Planting up

Containers to be fixed to the mesh should be filled with lightweight multi-purpose compost. Water-retentive gel can also be added at this stage. Allow a gap of at least 5cm (2in) above the surface of the compost and the rim of a straight-sided pot; with tapered pots leave 7.5cm (3in), as compost is more likely to wash out at an angle. Position the container, and wire it to the mesh, creating hooks to hold the weight. Once attached, water regularly and apply a liquid tomato feed from mid-June onwards.

Good performers

Aubergine ‘Mohican' AGM Basils ‘Minette’, ‘Siam Queen’ and ‘Sweet Genoese’ Chilli pepper ‘Prairie Fire’ Coriander Cucumber ‘Marketmore’ Lettuces ‘Salad Bowl’ AGM and ‘Salad Bowl Red’ AGM Oregano Parsley ‘Curlina’ Rocket Squash ‘Tromboncino’ Tomatoes ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ and ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’

Disappointing performers

Climbing French bean 'Violet Podded Stringless’ Nasturtium ‘African Queen’ Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ Spring onion ‘Rossa Lunga di Firenze’

Watering and feeding

Water pots by hand or install an automatic watering system and feed with a liquid tomato feed from June onwards.

Reference & Full Article

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