Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vertical Gardening



I learned about vertical gardening at my recent month-long workshop on Ecovillage Design Education at Findhorn in Northern Scotland. I have since found it in several books. We planted potatoes in the vertical garden we started, but you can plant anything that would grow in the ground in a vertical garden! Apparently carrots turn out a little wonky shaped, and I would imagine other root veggies do too, but who cares about the shape if you have yummy carrots!
As a general rule, it would take 13 to 18 times more ground space to plant the same amount in a horizontal garden as you can in a vertical garden.
To make a vertical garden like the one pictured here:
Take a section of galvanized wire fencing with about 2" holes. Count out 36 squares, and cut the section. Wrap the fencing around to make a cylinder; secure the ends together with twistie ties (this way you can open it, and then re-use it next year).
From the bottom of the cylinder, you want to make four wings. Make three cuts, up about 5 squares (or 10") each, using the existing edge as the fourth cut. Bend the wings out so the structure will stand up. We buried these wings, but I'm sure they could be weighted down with
rocks or something. They function to keep the whole thing stable and keep it from blowing over in the wind.
So, then you start by putting in organic matter. The great thing is, you don't need to put in soil! You can stuff it with compost or other dead material. We took four wheelbarrows into the forest and picked up stuff off the forest floor. Put about 8" of material on the bottom, and then place seeds/potatoes on top. Add another 6" of organic matter, another layer of seeds, another 6", more seeds, and so on. We actually then put another cylinder (without the wings cut out) on top to make a double-decker garden. It wound up to be about six feet tall.
We planted potatoes, by throwing in four whole potatoes per planting row. You wind up with10-20 potatoes for every one you plant. Next fall the garden will be opened up, and will be full of potatoes. The leftover organic matter will fall to the ground and help to create topsoil, and the garden can be re- twistie-tied and used again.
That's it! Simple, space-saving, and productive. I hope you find this useful!

41 comments:

  1. Is this a root vegetable method only? How do you overcome gravitropism in the seedlings to get them to grow out the side instead of the top?

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  2. No, it is not for root vegetables only. Anything that can grow horizontally can grow vertically! :o) We learned that if you plant the seeds near the edges, they will find the light via the nearest source, which in this case is the side. I would probably not start seeds in it myself; instead I start seedlings and then would place them in such a way that you are training them to come out the sides. I imagine that would be a more productive method, but we learned just to put the seeds in and let it grow!

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  3. Ahh. Cool. I think I might give one of these a try this year.

    Now I'm imagining what one of those full of asparagus would look like. Creepy.

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  4. Lol-- Asparagus is creepy enough on it's own without making it Dr. Seuss shaped! Let me know if you try it though... I'd like to see pictures of that! :o)

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  5. I don't know this would work for asparagus, ir being a perennial plant. Still, yeah that would look weird. Once they cleared the mesh do you think they would try to grow upwards?

    Kathy did you add any fertilizer in with the plants? Did you try to screen out sticks, leaves, etc?

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  6. No; there was a lot of pine needles in with what we got from the forest though, and the facilitator thought it would probably be deficient in a couple of things as a result. He said he was going to have people pee on it to balance it out. :o)
    You want the leaves and stuff; if you start a compost pile, it would be good stuff to use also.

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  7. This is incredible. I'm funna make my small suburban garden into a production powerhouse this year. Might join you, but I guess I should read the rules first. Dude, this might make my silly homekeeping blog interesting...

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  8. Yes! Read the rules, and then join us anyway!
    :o)

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  9. Dear Well,

    That sounds like a name from the war of 1812 - I remember reading about a general whose name was Return...

    At any rate, where is your suburban garden located? And of course you're welcome to join.

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  10. Could add another layer and put a couple tomato or green pepper plants in the top since you have a nice deep area of compost and soil. Plant beans and peas and string them between the towers. Compact megagarden!

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  11. I did this a couple of years ago and got very few potatoes... Waited all summer ... Faith like potatoes, not here

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  12. what about rodents, I used tires many years ago..Excellent growth...had lots of greenery..lots of potatoes..but all were eaten or had been chewed on

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  13. maybe connecting several towers together at mid height and the top to stabilize them.

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  14. How long from planting to harvesting for potatoes? I live in South Africa so our growing season is different. This is awesome!

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  15. How are you going to get the potatoes out? I love vertical gardening but only seen recycled palettes and bottles up to now.

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  16. Sounds interesting & I think I may give it a shot. I planted potatoes last year, didn't get alot, but the sure take up alot of room.

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  17. This is really interesting! A vertical garden is beautiful to look at, especially when the sprouts are coming to form. It is also a good idea if you want to refrain the weeds from destructing your plants and crops.

    Bethel Woodard

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  18. I am interested in trying this. Do you know what type of potatoes you planted?

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  19. do you have a pic of the finished (fall ) look?

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  20. Do the plant leaves grow the wire mesh?

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    Replies
    1. The original posts were from 2010, they probably don't even look at this blog anymore.

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  21. it looks like you put whole potatoes in without sprouts or roots ????

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  22. I've never seen anyone plant 'whole' potatoes before--usually chunks of seed potatoes with the 'eye'. We are trying a verticle spinach garden in my room this winter, but made it out of bottles...I hope it works! I think a flower tower would be cool too!

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  23. Does this dry out fast? How much water does it need?

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  24. Dana...my "redneck" brain says try adding some plastic bottles with holes in them and they'll water when you don't. You can fill them with a hose and put the cover back on. Just leave the spout visible.

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  25. I live in the Caribbean, but willing to try this just to see what happens.

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  26. I live in the Caribbean, but willing to try this just to see what happens.

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  27. add a plastic pipe about 2" in diameter with small holes drilled into it up through the center as your building up the garden, then when done water through the top of the pipe filling it and voila it's watered from the inside out. otherwise, the water does not soak through to the bottom without washing out the soil/mulch through the sides. good luck everyone, mary..

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  28. I even have been getting a lot of helpful and informative material in your web site.
    Blinds

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  29. I have gone through and found your blog very helpful,.
    Blinds Sydney

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  30. I think this would be great with any kind of squash or cucumbers hanging down. I would plant seeds near the top. Going to try this! Thanks!

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  31. It's looking amazing,.
    Thanks for sharing this with us,.
    kunstgras

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