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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Growing Up: Vertical Gardening

Growing Up: Vertical Gardening

For people who don’t have much land for gardening, container gardening can be a great solution. But what if you’re really limited for space, and want to plant more than just a few small pots?

Vertical gardening is an excellent solution for maximizing a minimal amount of space. All you need to be a successful vertical gardener is imagination and a few basic tools.

One of the simplest ways to make the most of a small space is to use hanging baskets. You can hang them from the roof of a balcony, or the bottom of a fire escape. If you don’t have either of these, you can suspend a thick dowel rod between a couple of poles, or even create a tiered system of dowels for hanging multiple rows of baskets. If you devise a system for bringing plants at the highest levels down to the ground for watering and weeding — either a pulley system, or a simple retrieval crook — there is almost no limit to how high you can hang your plants.

For those with a little more room, a tiered raised garden bed can provide adequate growing room for a number of different plants.

Trellises are an excellent solution for vined vegetables and ornamentals such as beans, grapes, ivy, morning glories, and more. As the plants grow larger, they climb upward, so the amount of square footage you need for them on the ground never increases.

There are countless other ways to create a vertical garden, limited only by the confines of your own ingenuity. People have created vertical gardens from a variety of unusual materials, such as hanging shoe organizers. Each shoe pocket makes a perfect planter for herbs or other small plants.

Small plants that need less direct sunlight may tolerate being housed outside on an old book or utility shelf. A stack of milk crates or Yaffa blocks, placed so that the open side is facing the best light, would also work well.

Many people have also been successful planting everything from strawberries to tomatoes in the upside down patio planters that you see on TV and at every discount store. This is just one more example of vertical gardening.

In addition to space considerations, vertical gardening is also an excellent way to keep ground-dwelling pests — such as rabbits, deer, groundhogs, caterpillars, voles, neighborhood pets, and more — from turning your hard work into their private salad bar.

Taking into account the recommended soil depth and root spread, and the weight and height of the finished plant, nearly anything that can be grown in a conventional garden can be grown in a vertical garden. Just be sure to read your seed packets carefully to ensure that you’ve allotted the correct amount of space for each of your vertical veggies. Of course you’ll want to keep your watermelons and pumpkins on the ground level, but beyond that, the sky is truly the limit!

5 comments

1 Jaime McLeod { 02.29.12 at 1:09 pm }

Chris Dean – We recommend those dates regardless of your growing method.

2 Chris Dean { 02.29.12 at 10:38 am }

If you garden by means of hydroponics, is gardening by the moon still the best or is there no difference?

3 Gail T { 07.08.11 at 9:08 am }

While visiting Epcot Center in Florida this June we toured their greenhouses which were full of wonderful ideas for growing vertically. Melons dangled from their vines overhead, eggplants grew from eggplant trees, etc. Their use of hydroponics was astounding as well. Gardeners old and new who are presented with an opportunity to view this or any other state of the art facility would be just as amazed as I was myself. G.T.

4 Frutero { 07.07.11 at 4:13 pm }

There are a few miniature melons, such as Minnesota Midget, a netted cantelope, and Tigger, an improved dudaim, that can be grown this way, too. They range from the size of a big egg to a softball, and can support themselves on trellising. An interesting plant to grow like this is the little Melothria, too, which when picked just short of ripe, can be used like tiny cucumbers.

5 Jan Newman { 07.07.11 at 11:15 am }

Thank you for the article. I will try several more thing in a hanging containers and see how they do. Thanks again

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