Starting a Vertical Garden

In a perfect world, we’d all have large backyard gardens where we would grow many varieties of vegetables and never have to buy any at the grocery store.

This perfect world would also supply us with plenty of time to spend in those gardens, planting, nurturing and harvesting those vegetables. As well as saving the seeds for next year’s planting.

Alas, none of us lives in a perfect world and many of us don’t have the space or the time to do what we’d like with a garden.

But we might still be able to start up a garden that will provide us with some of those home-grown vegetables we could enjoy year-round (assuming we have freezer space). Or, we may just want to have an interesting garden for its visual appeal.

How? I’m talking about planting a vertical garden. This is something you can do indoors or outdoors, depending on wall space, the types of plants you’d like to grow, sun exposure, etc.

There are plenty of books and websites devoted to this topic, and you can learn a lot from them. Including the types of PVC pipes, joints, screws, staples, etc. to use.

But we’ll go into some of the basics here for an outdoor vertical garden, and hopefully whet your appetitive for this type of project.

First, select the plants you wish to grow. For this decision you need to take into account where they will be growing and how they’ll handle the environment, including temperature, humidity and wind.

Second, select a wall where you’d like your vertical garden to live. Next, build a frame to contain your plants. Then, attach plastic sheeting to the frame, which will serve the purpose of keeping water off the wall.

Next comes your fabric, which is attached to the plastic. You can use different materials for the fabric, the key being that it needs to retain water without rotting. The founder of the Vertical Garden Institute recommends two layers of felt carpet padding.

Next comes the all-important irrigation system. In essence what you need is something like a gutter with many small holes in it so that water can drip down over the entire width of your vertical garden. You can construct it out of poly tubing.

Depending on how much work you want to put into this, you can use a fertilizer injector with a valve that can send liquid fertilizer into your irrigation system.

To secure your plants in the fabric, make horizontal cuts in the material and insert the plant’s root ball, after removing much of the soil. Stainless-steel staples can be used to attach the material to the plastic sheeting around the root ball.

Then use stainless-steel hardware to attach the frame to the wall. That should help avoid rusting.

Be creative with your design. If you want the lower plants to have more shade, use longer-growing plants near the top. If the plants you’re using thrive on sunlight, plant longer-growing plants near the bottom.

If you’re a newcomer to vertical garden planting, you might want to start small for the first year and see how it goes. If you enjoy it and like how it turned out, you can go bigger in year two. Another upside is if you have created a small-enough vertical garden, and have the ability to bring this into a covered patio or indoors during the winter, you can keep growing year-round.

Good luck and have fun!

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