Derek Fell, author Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, describes vertical gardening as “an innovative, effortless, and highly productive growing system that uses bottom-up and top-down supports for a wide variety of plants in both small and large garden spaces.” With land becoming more limited and cities becoming more crowded, many people are not able to have their own garden space in which they can relax or entertain. Enter the vertical garden…
Unlike climbers or creepers which naturally attach themselves to a structure and grow vertically, vertical gardens are constructed in such a way that supports the growth of a variety of plant species. Vertical gardens use a carefully constructed support system that attaches onto a wall or vertical surface, reducing the amount of ground space used for gardening and instead maximising on the use of wall space. Many city-dwellers live in confined spaces with little option of greenery in their apartments or dwellings. Their keen interest in growing their own vegetables or herbs is dulled by the lack of space. The benefit of vertical gardens is that they are just that – vertical – and therefore require often unused wall space for installation. By using trellises, pots or even shelves, vertical systems can be created that will allow maximum produce in minimal space.
In many cases, wall space is available for a living vertical garden. What needs to be determined next are the environmental conditions around that space. The biggest factor to consider is the amount natural sunlight that space receives. Is the apartment surrounded by buildings and in shade or most of the day? Planting vegetables, such as lettuce or cabbage, or plants that require minimal sunlight and grow best in shade would be the best option for that vertical garden. Does the space experience high volumes of wind or rain? More hardy plants would be best suited to those conditions. Should the space receive ample sunshine, the planting choices are much greater.
In addition to the natural environment, the type of produce desired determines the type of vertical garden system that should be used. Vegetable food gardens are often able to thrive in smaller pots attached to wire mesh, or fabric pockets. Trailing vegetables, such as peppers and sweet potatoes, are best suited to being planted hanging baskets. Beans, peas, tomatoes and squashes have vine-like qualities and therefore need to be trained on where to grow. In this case, using a trellis or wire mesh to support vertical growth is best.
Vertical gardens are an amazing means to greenery, but will work best when the right kind of plants for that environment are used. Creativity is key – find the best vertical garden option that works for that space and environment. Vertical food gardens are a fantastic way for urban gardeners to enjoy a beautiful harvest without using limited ground space. When it comes to growing plants up, the sky really is the limit!