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By Samuel Wilson
One of the many challenges growers face, is dealing with space limitations. Not everyone has a bunch of space or land to grow on, so it’s important to utilize as much of the growing area as possible. Various techniques can be used in order to make better use of a given area; one growing style in particular, is vertical gardening. This technique allows the grower to sow more plants in a given area by growing “up” or “vertically”, instead of traditional methods, like growing horizontally or just using up the ground or floor space.
Growing vertically has many advantages such as:
* Higher plant counts in a smaller foot print. This gives the grower, the ability to fully take advantage of their growing situation because they’re able to increase production for that given space. For example, if a grower uses a product such as a Garden Tower 2, this allows them to grow 50 plants in a four square foot area. This is a whole lot of production for such a small footprint. This clearly shows, that a large growing area isn’t needed to grow many of your favorite plants and achieve great results.
Plants are easily accessible and kitchen scraps and worms can be placed in the center of the unit to create your own “compost bin”. Nutrient rich compost run off water, can later be collected from the bottom tray of the unit and be used to water and feed the plants; this will help keep your plants healthy. A Garden Tower 2, is a great way to grow vertically, utilize permaculture, and maximize growing space. For information visit gardentowerproject.org and burpee.com.
* Other vertical gardening methods can be utilized as well; plants can be grown up a trellis or vertical objects, such as gazebos, arbors, fences (which can create a “privacy screen”), tepees, old ladders, stacked raised beds, or custom built structures.
Vertical gardening makes plants more accessible for watering, maintenance, harvest, and can eliminate the need for tons of containers all over the place. If containers are arranged properly, they can be made into nice arrangements for inside and outside the home. Vertical gardening can prevent animals from digging up plants and can avoid soil based pests because they aren’t grown in the ground. By not having the plants in the ground, there isn’t any digging that has to be done and there’s isn’t a need to get down on your hands and knees to do any weeding.
Often times, vertical growing requires some maintenance in order achieve the best results. Most vertical implementations don’t utilize a lot of soil for each individual plant’s root zone. With that being said, it’s very important to conscience of the fact, that the plants may need to be watered more frequently as a result. This is especially the case, when its really hot out or if the plants are in a really sunny area.
Another thing to consider, is that water may drain out the bottom of your vertical setup, so make sure the leaking water won’t drip and damage anything around or below it. Lastly, please avoid using dark colored planters/containers because they will heat the container to a higher temperature and will begin to “bake” the roots of the plants; this can damage or may even kill them.
Vertical gardens can be setup inside during the winter months or they can be used to help filter and clean the air inside the home all year round. Certain plants do a better job than others, so a little bit of research needs to be done. Hanging planters on the outside or inside of windows or placing them on window sills, can be a great way to utilize existing unused space and can be used to grow herbs, lettuce, strawberries, and various other greens.
Vertical growing can be an attractive option for those with a small growing area or for those, that just want to make the most out of their existing growing environment. With a little bit of planning and creativity, there are several options out there to meet your individual needs. Again, there are pre-built solutions like the Garden Tower 2, that gives users the ability to grow 50 plants in a small footprint, without having to design and build a custom unit or structure. With all that being said, i’m sure there’s a vertical growing solution out there that will fit your needs. Happy Gardening.