What is a vertical garden and why would you want one? There are several reasons for creating DIY Vertical Gardening Systems. The first being very obvious and that is you have limited space for a garden, however there are other benefits like not having to bend over if you have back issues.
Another reason is to decorate a particular living area or define an area in your backyard, vertical gardens are not just for vegetables or herbs you can also do a unique accent wall with flowers or succulents. You can also take your garden indoors.
Need a little more seclusion? You can use a vertical system as a privacy fence or if you reside in a climate that experiences a lot of high winds it can also serve as a wind breaker.
However the best reason for going vertical is you can grow a lot more vegetables or other plants with this type of system than you can by spreading your garden out over a backyard area or acreage. You will also save on water which is important if you live in a drought prone region off the world.
Besides a higher yield per square foot you also benefit with better ventilation by getting your plants off the ground (those plants that qualify), also you can use an elevated vertical garden to shade a portion of your house that may get too much sun at peak hours.
Finally this type of system is not for everyone if you are lucky enough to have wide open spaces then you may enjoy gazing over your garden masterpiece as it spreads out over your domain!
When you decide on a vertical vegetable garden and are going up instead of outward you need to start with some sort of support system which can include but are not limited to:
A stake support. (Excellent for tomatoes)
A tripod system. (Peas, tomatoes and more)
A cage structure. (Almost any type of plants because of its strength)
A teepee frame design. (Excellent for almost any vine type plant)
An A frame system. (Great for large plants like melons or pumpkins)
A container or pocket wall system (Ideal for succulents or herbs, tip for the DIY you can use a shoe holder that normally hangs on a door and put pots in the slots!)
An arbor or trellis system (There are several different trellis options that you can DIY or purchase prefab)
There are several other considerations as well and those are using discarded wood pallets, rain gutters (plastic or metal), PVC pipe systems and many more, this is an area that is wide open to your creativity!
Once you have selected your support system the next consideration is whether you are planting directly in the soil or if you have limited space you may need to use containers.
Once you have configured your support and growing system it is time to decide which vegetables will do well on a vertical support, here is a small list of plants that will do well but by no means is it complete.
Tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, squash, some melons, with the right structure system you can even grow pumpkins and watermelon. Almost all the vine plants like zucchini and others can be grown if they are properly supported (an A frame system is one idea).
This is just a partial list you can grow almost anything vertical if you have the proper support and access to good soil and the proper drainage and irrigation system.
It will depend on the structure you select and what type of plants you want. Growing watermelons are going to be a challenge but not impossible as well as other heavy plants.
If you are going to decide on an herb garden things will be much easier for you because of the space and size requirements, herbs require a much smaller footprint than some other plants. There are several different prefab systems that you can invest in which will provide a growing space for you herbs.
A DIY pallet system is a good choice but by no means the only way, there are also rain gutters, a trellis system, a pocket system (see container or pocket system above), you are only limited by your imagination.
What is great about an herb garden is it is fairly easy to maintain and you can have fresh herbs for your daily meal if you enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients.
DIY Vertical Gardening Systems can also include the use of a trellis for a wall garden which is an ideal starting place or a wood pallet works as well. Like the herb garden systems there are also prefab modules that you can attach to a wall or other structure and start your new wall garden.
This type of system is excellent for succulents and other small plants that require a small growing space; you can create a unique mosaic of flowers or plants that will enhance your outdoor living space.
One of the great vine plants for your system is the grape because they are hardy in most environments and we love to snack on them. There is something unique about being able to walk out into your garden and grab a fresh cherry tomato or a handful of grapes from your vines.
Another vine member is the kiwi, like the grape it is hardy in most climates and some varieties can withstand some pretty radical temperature swings. You will need to do some research before trying to grow this vine in your garden because it requires special attention to the number of female plants to the male plant ratio for reproduction.
Passion fruit is a delicious vine plant that you can incorporate into your growing space because it grows rapidly and is perfectly adapted for growing upward.
One plant that you may not relate to a vertical garden design is strawberries, yes they do well and if they are off the ground guess what no rabbits to deal with! Rabbits love strawberries and a lot of your other garden favorites but if you have your crop elevated that risk is off the table.
If you need to work with containers because of your limited space and the lack of soil it is not a problem you will be amazed what you can grow from containers, many plants you thought would not do well like potatoes will do really well in containers.
When you are dealing with containers just design your structure over the containers and allow space for expansion and proper drainage from your irrigation system.
A great system for a small patio area that has no access to soil is the free-standing planter that is portable so it can be moved around your patio area. This is ideal because you can change your living space look or capture the right amount of sunlight as the season progresses.
It is ideal to get one that allows the removable of the planter boxes for easy planting and any other maintenance that is required.
Cedar is an excellent choice because it will not rot or decay easily and it is naturally bug resistant.
Regardless which system you decide on one thing that they will all have in common is the need for some type of irrigation. If your garden is small and you have the time you can manually water your plants and it may even be therapeutic for you each day.
However if you have a rather large vegetable garden it may require a more sophisticated watering system. There are countless ways of watering your plants and many use gravity to their advantage by allowing the water from the top of the system to drain through into the next and so on.
Like the countless vertical system options there are many different watering options as well including using PVC pipe, natural slope so it is gravity feed (like rain gutters), an overhead sprinkler, an ordinary ground sprinkler that could be put on a timer and so many more!
The system you use will more than likely be determined by your design, size and needs day to day, another consideration is the plants themselves, because each may require different irrigation needs than others.
One important consideration when it comes to irrigation is proper drainage, your plants need to breath and it is important that the soil is properly aerated for maximum yield.
This type of grow system does not have to be confined to your outdoor living space it can be utilized indoors as well. It is important that you consider the proper plant selection and you will have to design some type of watering system if it is going to be large.
You can use prefab wall units to grow almost any type of small flower or it is ideal for a small herb garden near your kitchen area.
We can go on about all the benefits of growing a vertical garden how it requires less square footage and all the rest of the benefits. But there is one benefit that is not talked about that often and that is how beautiful these gardens can be.
With some forethought about the design and materials used you can create a stunning area with lots of textures, shapes and colors that pop.
The beauty of this type of system is there is no limit to size you can create a vertical design with as little as three pots on a wall or take up an entire fence or wall.
This may not relate to the DIY person but it is an important point because the concept of farming with this method is absolute amazing and could help feed the entire population of the world if enough minds were to embrace the idea.
Another great food source system that requires a very small footprint is Aquaponics, it is the practice of growing plants and raising fish at the same time from the same eco system. You can start as small as a fish tank on a table top or scale it up to a massive large scale production farm.
Simply put it is fish in a tank that are fed and their waste water is then pumped into a holding tank with plants that are floating in a special medium instead of soil and the waste water feeds the plants, then cycled back into the water tank as it is purified and the cycle is complete.
Aquaponic farming combined with vertical farming would be the perfect synergy for growing enough food to feed every man, woman and child on this planet if it were taken seriously by enough people!