Tag Archives: Containers

Vertical Garden

All About Vertical Gardening: What is Vertical Gardening?

Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – gardening on a vertical, rather than a horizontal, surface. Vertical gardening can be accomplished in two major ways. First, many vertical gardens take advantage of the tendencies of some plants to grow up rather than out. But the effort is not just limited to plants that naturally grow up. Any plant that produces a vine can be “trained” to grow vertically with just a little extra attention.

Of course, your vertical garden won’t just be vining plants. Nearly any kind of plant can be grown on a vertical surface – just mount growing containers on a wall or other vertical surface. You can also use a framework that allows growing containers to be stacked from bottom to top.

The beauty of vertical gardening lies in several facets

1 — GOING UP: First, growing vegetables and other plants “up” instead of “out” saves space. That makes vertical gardening a perfect alternative for people with limited space or who are growing in urban environments.

2 — EASY TO PULL: Vertical growing makes vegetables easier to harvest. If your beans are growing at waist height rather than at ankle level, then you’re going to benefit. It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone would prefer reaching out to harvest rather than bending over

3 — GETTING AIR: Vertical gardening gives plants better air exposure through increased surface area. This leads to healthier – and therefore more productive – plants.

4 — PEST PROBLEMS? Growing plants vertically reduces the danger of soil-borne diseases, molds and crawling pests.

5 — THE SPACE IS THERE: Nearly any vertical surface or structure can be used to support your plants – walls, posts, trellises, frames made from wood or PVC pipe, old shipping pallets, or even other vertically growing plants like trees. You’ll also find that you’ll save money on materials such as fencing, gardening soil and mulch.

Planning

How To Plan and Plant Your Vertical Garden

Planning your Vertical Garden is different from planning a traditional garden, but shouldn’t be done with any less care.

Step One: Consider the location of your Vertical Garden

Ideally, vegetable plants in your Vertical Garden should get at least six hours of sustained sunlight a day. Pick a spot that will allow for maximum sun while minimizing filtered light through trees. If a large wall on the side of your house gets the best light, that’s a perfect spot to consider. Even well-lit balconies and porches will work. If it’s available, a south-facing location is the best.

A wonderful aspect of vertical gardening is choosing a location. You’re not as limited by space as you would be with a traditional garden. In fact, you’ll probably find that you have an abundance of available space to grow up rather than out. Remember that an area as small as an apartment balcony can serve as an excellent vertical gardening spot. Just a few containers and trellis supports will do the trick.

Step Two: Where’s the Water?

As with any vegetable garden, make sure that wherever you choose to place it is close to a convenient source of water. Ideally, your Vertical Garden can be reached by a garden hose.

Step Three: Soil for your Vertical Garden

Depending on your space, you’ll want to decide whether to plant your vegetables in soil at the base of your growing area or use containers. In either case, use a good gardening soil.  Augment it with rich compost to provide the nutrients your plants will need.

Step Four: Plant Choices

Carefully consider what you’re planning to grow in your Vertical Garden. Naturally vining vegetables are perfect, of course. However, don’t rule out other vegetables and herbs that grow closer to the ground. While vining plants will likely require a trellis or some other form of support, those that don’t vine can be planted in nearly anything that you can hang or mount on a vertical surface.

Step Five: Follow the Plan

Plant seeds just as you would in a traditional gardening. Take care to leave enough space according to the planting instructions. When planting vegetables that will need a support structure, don’t forget to install the supports at the same time you plant. Adding supports after the plants have sprouted can damage the young root systems.

Step Six: Training

As your vining plants sprout and mature, “train” them to grow upward. Simply manually thread the young vines up through the support system. This is an ongoing process and should be part of your regular Vertical Garden upkeep.

Planting and harvesting

All About Vertical Gardening: Planting and Harvesting Your Vertical Garden

When it comes to planting and harvesting, there are very few differences between horizontal and vertical gardening.

Before you plant

Whether you’re using a container or a strip of ground, the best place to start is by making sure you have soil conducive to growth. If you’re using containers, start with a good, nutrient-rich gardening soil from the gardening or home supply store.

Planting in the ground first? Start by creating a pit between 6 inches and a foot deep for each spot where you’ll be planting. The depth varies on the root system of the plant, of course. Take the soil you removed and create a half-and-half mix with compost, then refill the pit.

If you haven’t already decided what will go where in your vertical garden, this is good time to do so. Make sure to install all support structures for vining plants at this point. Doing so after you plant can damage the root systems of seedlings or mature plants. Make sure the structure is positioned over where you will plant to give the tendrils and vines the best chance to take hold.

Planting your vertical garden

Now it’s time to plant, following the package directions on your fruits or vegetables of choice. While you’ll ultimately be responsible for making sure the garden gets enough water, it never hurts to plant during a rainy period to ensure adequate moisture. Stick to about four seeds per planting area to avoid overcrowding; then water gently. As the seedlings emerge and get to about 4 inches high, you’ll want to thin them to ensure they don’t crowd each other out.

Check on your plants every day so you can monitor moisture and thread new tendrils or vines upward through your support structure. Some heavier vines might require a little extra help, so don’t be reluctant to use a natural twine or garden ties to secure them to the supports. Water as needed – especially until the plants are fully established – and check for disease growth and pests.

Harvesting

Once your vegetables or fruits have matured, harvest them as you normally would for each individual variety. Do take special care not to yank down your support structures in the process. A simple pair of garden shears will help you cut from the vine – rather than pull – heavy items like melons or squash.

For non-vining plants, there should be very few differences from traditional harvesting. Just take care to avoid significantly disturbing the soil, neighboring plants and the vertical structure itself.

Disease, cucumber plant.

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Disease

Since vertical gardens grow up rather than along the ground, the risk of disease is significantly reduced with limited contact with the soil.

However, that doesn’t mean your plants will be disease free in a vertical garden.

As with any type of gardening, the first step to avoiding disease is the quality of the soil. If this is the first season for your vertical garden, make sure you start with soil from an area from which all weeds have been removed and the soil has been vigorously turned and mixed with clean compost. For an existing vertical garden, you’ll still want to weed and augment your soil with compost, but also make sure you have rotated your crops from their planting locations the previous year.

Plants such as squash, cucumber and peas are highly susceptible to disease when planted in the same spot as the previous year.

Two common diseases that affect vertical gardens

  • Anthracnose: This fungus most often affects cucumbers, watermelons and muskmelons, and is most prevalent during warm, humid conditions. To protect your plants, rotate crops annually, leave enough space between plants to let leaves dry out as quickly as possible and promptly remove/destroy affected leaves and fruit to prevent spreading. To help prevent or eliminate anthracnose, use Safer®Brand Garden Fungicide or Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray, which acts as a fungicide, insecticide and miticide. Both are OMRI Listed® and compliant for use in organic gardening.
  • Bacterial wilt: This disease is indicated by vines that wilt in the day but recover at night. Try to purchase disease resistant species and watch for cucumber beetles, which spread the disease.
Pests

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Pests

One great advantage of having a vertical garden is the limited exposure to soil-dwelling pests. Your vertical garden has less direct contact to the ground, after all. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to pest control – it will still be an issue.

Any insect or other critter that could infest your traditional horizontal garden can still gain access to your vertical garden, particularly if you’re using an in-ground plot for planting. Keep in mind that many notorious garden pests begin to fly at later life stages. They’re happy to leave eggs on your eggplant or helping the kids to gorge on your green beans.

To limit the potential destruction by garden pests, you’ll want to take many of the same measures you would to limit disease – clear yard debris from your planting areas, make sure to rotate crops, and use well-turned soil that’s been fortified with clean compost.

Still, you might find pests worm their way into your vertical garden.

Two vertical garden pests

  • Squash bug: Squash bugs are gray or brown and prefer pumpkins and squash, typically toward the end of the growing season. Rotating crops and cleaning fall debris will help discourage them come planting season. During growing season, check the undersides of leaves for egg masses and destroy any that you find.
  • Cucumber beetle: Usually black or yellow spotted or striped, these critters love your cucumbers. Larvae go after the roots while the adults gnaw on leaves, so your attack should be two-pronged as well. Products such as Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray can help discourage both from overtaking your garden in either stage. A floating row cover will help protect from beetles in their flying stage.
octnews_headline

Fall Flower Boxes

Enhance your fall outdoor decorating and extend your gardening season with fall flower boxes and hanging planters.

The first brisk fall evenings crash through summer’s warmth and abruptly awaken our senses to the season’s arrival. It seems like one day we are enjoying long days and cookouts, and the next day it’s football and early morning frost. Those crisp nights also tend to foretell the end of our gardening season.

Fall mumsThe thought of all your hard work disappearing steadily with each falling leaf, though inevitable, is a disappointing end to the summer. So don’t let it be the end of your garden season! Take back the fall with your flower boxes and hanging baskets, because they are a great way to extend your gardening season past Halloween and even continue to have garden color into Thanksgiving. Once your summer annuals are done blooming, its time to start to research some plants and flowers that will last a little longer in your hardiness zone. Don’t forget that there are some plants that will look great in your flower boxes even after the first frosts, and will provide color late into the year.  Less hardy plants start to wither up and die and your garden starts to turn brown.

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a very common and colorful fall flower. There are many different variety’s available to today’s gardener, including some very hard plants that can be perennials all the way in to Zone 5! Mums also make excellent container plants, and will work superbly for a flower box. Select 2-3 different colors to provide a nice, diverse showing. If you prefer, use a palette of fall colors like orange, yellow, and dark-red. They match up superbly with your traditional Halloween and Thanksgiving decorating.

Pansies

Pansies are an excellent way to add some vibrant color to your fall flower boxes. While pansies are not hardy enough to last as perennials in winter zones, they thrive in the cooler weather that fall provides, with some varieties even being able to survive light snow. The incredible color variety that is available with pansies make them a great option for filling in empty spaces in your flower boxes or hanging baskets.

Ornamental cabbages and kales provide nice leafy centerpieces to build your fall flower boxes and hanging baskets around. There are a handful of different varieties, all with different shapes and sizes. As the weather gets colder the color in the center of these plants become brighter and really provide a nice base of color for fall flower boxes and hanging baskets.

Don’t let fall be the end of your beautiful gardens. With a little research, and a little extra care, you can have flower boxes and hanging baskets that will extend your growing season, and give your outdoor decorating an extra touch of color and beauty at a time of the year when most people have given up.