Tag Archives: Garden Design

Hydroponic Vertical Gardening

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. This 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 it’s 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.

But your vertical garden doesn’t just have to be vining plants. Nearly any kind of plant can be grown on a vertical surface by either mounting growing containers on a wall or other vertical surface, or by using a framework that allows growing containers to be stacked from bottom to top.

The beauty of vertical gardening lies in several facets. First, growing your vegetables up instead of out saves space, making it a perfect alternative for gardeners with limited space or who are growing in urban environments.

Second, vertical growing makes vegetables easier to harvest. If your beans are growing at waist level rather than at ankle level, it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone would prefer reaching out to harvest rather than bending over

Third, vertical gardening gives plants better air exposure through increased surface area. This leads to generally healthier – and therefore more productive – plants.

Fourth, growing plants vertically reduces the danger of soil-borne diseases, molds and crawling pests.

And perhaps best of all, 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 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 your location. Ideally, vegetable plants should get at least six hours of sustained sunlight a day, so 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, and 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 when 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 when you consider growing up rather than out. Consider that an area as small as an apartment balcony can serve as an excellent vertical gardening spot with just a few containers and trellis supports.

Step Two: As with any vegetable garden, make sure that wherever you choose to place it is close to a convenient source of water or can be reached by a garden hose.

Step Three: 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 and augment it with rich compost to provide the nutrients your plants will need.

Step Four: Carefully consider what you’re planning to grow. Naturally vining vegetables come to mind immediately, but 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: Plant seeds just as you would in a traditional gardening, taking 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, because doing so after the plants have sprouted can damage the root systems.

Step Six: As your vining plants sprout and mature, “train” them to grow upward by manually threading the young vines up through the support system. This is an ongoing process and should be part of your regular garden upkeep.

Shopping list

All About Vertical Gardening: Shopping List for Creating a Vertical Garden

Your vertical gardening shopping list, at first glance, will be very similar to that of a traditional horizontal garden, but there are some very important things to consider.

First, will you start your plants in the ground – such as in a small plot against your house – or will you use containers? By using containers for your vertical garden, you give yourself the ability to grow in unusual places such as apartment balconies.

Also, you’ll need to consider what sort of support you’ll need for the types of vegetables you intend to plant.

Here’s your shopping list:

  • Containers (if needed) – These can be as utilitarian as plastic storage bins or as decorative as galvanized steel tubs or traditional large planters. Just make sure you have or make holes in the bottom to allow for drainage of excess water.
  • Garden soil
  • Compost (to augment garden soil, if needed)
  • Support structure materials, which can include
  • Trellis (wooden, bamboo, plastic or fabric, depending on your garden)
  • Wire fencing
  • Stakes
  • Natural twine
  • Tomato cages
  • Garden ties (to help secure vining plants to the support structure)
  • Seeds or seedlings
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can (if your garden is on an apartment balcony or not near a water source)
  • Insect killer or repellent
  • Fungicide
Vegetables to use

All About Vertical Gardening: Fruits and Vegetables to Use in Vertical Gardening

Just because you’ve decided to plant your garden on a vertical axis rather than a horizontal one doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow most – if not all – the vegetables you’re used to growing in a traditional garden.

However, those vegetables that will naturally grow vertically by extending vines that attach to a supporting structure are naturally most conducive to vertical gardening. They include:

  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Melons

While the inclination of all of these plants is vine, not all will naturally grow up. Cucumbers and squash, for instance, might take some training on your part. This is as simple as threading new tendrils up through your supporting structure to give them the chance to attach.

But suppose you’d like to include non-vining vegetables in your vertical garden? It’s not in any way out of the question, but will require that you rework your thinking on how your garden is arranged.

Home stores and garden supply companies have, in recent years, designed a number of products to help with this. They are typically shelf-type planters meant to be placed against an exterior wall, but nearly any container that can be adapted for vertical use can serve as a great planter in a vertical garden – old rain gutters, suspended two-liter soda bottles and shipping pallets can all be used.

The plants that work best in this sort of arrangement are the non-climbing varieties, such as:

  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes (regular or sweet)
  • Herbs

Just remember that soil depths and planting conditions – particularly for in-ground plants like potatoes – should conform as closely to horizontal as possible horizontal conditions when planted in a vertical arrangement.

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 vertical and horizontal gardening.

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.

If you’re planting in the ground, based on the root or growing depth of your plants, start by creating a pit between 6 inches and a foot deep for each spot where you’ll be planting. 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, this is good time to do so. Make sure to install all support structures for vining plants at this point, because 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.

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.

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

Because vertical gardens grow up rather than along the ground, the risk of disease is significantly reduced thanks to 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 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 like 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 are:

  • 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.
gardentable

Top 10 Mistakes Gardeners Make!

Each year many gardeners ask themselves “What did I do wrong?” Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Here are the most common gardening mistakes and how to avoid them.

1] Choosing the wrong location – Depending on where the location is, most of these mistakes have an easy fix with a little effort and do not need to be re-located.

2] Pulling flowers instead of weeds – There’s a reason plants come with labels; use them!

3] Not preparing the soil – soil is different in each region, but you should test it annually because of varying weather conditions from year to year. Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit from the hardware store and then fix what you need to.

4] Too much watering – Watering plants too much drowns the roots which creates root rot. Watering too little, dehydrates plants. The best cure for this is to invest in a mid-priced self-irrigation system. It adjust watering levels automatically.

5] Planting an unruly variety – Some plants, no matter what you do, you just can’t get rid of. These types are best for container gardening. Keep an eye on the description of the plants before you purchase. Prolific reseeder and vigorous growth most likely mark an invasive plant.

6] Not considering wildlife – From squirrels to deer, even dogs. Install a fence around your veggie garden to help keep unwanted visitors out.

7] Too little sun – Make sure and pay attention to sun needs of plants when laying out your garden. Some plants, like tomatoes, need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Other plants such as peas need more shade.

8] Planting too many seeds – If you plan on planting larger vine type plants, go easy on the seeds. Although you don’t feel as if it’s enough, remember how large the outcome of these plants can get. Pumpkins and watermelons are two culprits.

9] Drowning plants in pesticide – Pesticides can remain in soil for long periods of time, some even years! The best way to clear up weeds is to use a natural, organic weed killer or mix equal parts of hot water and vinegar and pour over the area for a few days until the plants turn brown.

10] Too close for comfort – Planting too close together can deform your plants and sometimes strangle the life out of them. Follow the directions on the plants on how exactly to plant them.

What is your best advice for easy gardening?
Have fun and happy gardening!

rose-moss

Plant of the Month: Moss Rose

Moss Rose. This annual flower is perfect for hot and dry areas. It makes the perfect ground covering plant as well, so if you have large areas that you need to cover, Moss Rose is an easy plant to utilize in this situation. Moss Rose comes in many colors as well – so there are many choices available no matter what color palette you have planned for your yard or garden.

Choose blooms in bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks! Moss rose grows 4-8 inches tall and spreads up to 2 feet.  Interestingly enough, the newer batches of this flower stay open longer during the day – the older batches open at noon and close at dusk. When its cloudy, they may stay closed all day.

Again, choose a hot, dry area. This plant needs full sun, at least 6-8 hours daily. Rock gardens, between pavers, along driveways, walkways and sidewalks are good spots. Keep in mind, they also need good drainage.

Make sure and dead head these as well so that you can enjoy a healthy plant.
Fertilize Moss rose twice – once in mid-summer and once in late summer.

Happy gardening!

Vegetable Garden Design

So, you’d like to start a vegetables garden. Where do you begin?  It’s probably best to figure out what you want to plant, how much you want to plant, and where to plant it before you do anything.  Here are a few tips and guidelines to get you on your way.

Tickle your tastebuds
Your goal should be to plant the kind of garden that will yield the homegrown vegetables that you know you and your family can enjoy. Don’t over plant. There’s no sense spending time and effort growing things you won’t use or must give away. Focus on your favorites and enjoy them yourself.

Hatch a plot
There are many ways to plan a garden. Let’s assume that you have sufficient land and space to grow vegetables. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about acres here. For people who have plenty of time and space, the traditional garden plot is acceptable.  Normally, a manageable garden is thought to be about 10 feet by 10 feet. These gardens can be created with long rows or partitioned into grids. Sketch a diagram where each vegetable is to be planted. But remember, large plots can be a chore when it Continue reading