There's a certain gardening trend that's been on the up over the past few months. With more people spending time inside, the desire to make the most of the spaces we have with nature's floral and edible treats has been more irresistible than ever. If you're unsure, the trend we're talking about is vertical vegetable gardening.
Not heard of it? Vertical vegetable gardening is the top choice for those who are tight on space. This growing trend is not only functional, but it can be beautiful too.
Whether you're growing in an allotment or trying a spot of balcony gardening, creating a vertical garden has the potential to transform and make small spaces into wholesome spaces. Come with us as we share some ideas to turn a bland wall into a sea of greenery with flowers, vegetables, and fruit.
The great news is that almost all vegetables can be grown vertically as long as the right precautions are taken.
Most forms of vegetables will need at least six hours of sunlight a day to grow properly. Ideally, you should find a sunny location to house your new vertical garden. If not, you can get away with some vegetables which don't require as much light, but it will limit your options.
A south-facing location is your best bet, although we don't all have that luxury, so use your common sense when it comes to placement.
Another tip before you get going with your vertical vegetable garden is to ensure that the pots you use are deep enough to accommodate the plant’s roots.
When growing plants vertically, there are three primary considerations:
We'll cover all of this and more later in this post. For now, though, let's move on to choosing the best site to grow plants vertically.
As well as choosing a spot with the right amount of sun you need to consider growing space. For your plants to grow, a lot of them will need some sort of support system.
It's essential to consider this early on because the space you will need will depend on the structure you install, netting vs trellis, for example.
When choosing a structure, ensure that it will remain strong enough throughout its lifetime to support your plants, as many of them can get quite heavy when they reach maturity. You should also already have a plant netting support system in place before planting to avoid damaging the plants.
Try to locate the supports behind the plants so that they don't block the sun from the plants; again, this means working out the best place to locate these in your space. You can either stake them into the ground if you have the capacity to do so or attach them to a wall if you live in a flat.
For novices, the best place to begin with vertical vegetable gardening is to find plants that climb naturally or can be made to do so with a little bit of encouragement. Tomatoes, peas, and cucumbers can all be made to or already naturally climb.
Our top 5 recommendations if you're thinking of growing crops in a small space are:
If you have room for deeper shelves in your outdoor space, then this will open up your options a little more. Do some research on places like Pinterest to find gardening inspiration, or take a look at our post on vegetable garden ideas for a more guided approach.
Realistically, the equipment you need to start your vertical garden will depend entirely on what you choose to grow and how you choose to grow! However, a few things are universally useful if you want to grow vegetables and herbs.
First, you need a good strong vegetable container to grow your crop in. this could be anything from empty plastic soda bottles if you want to recycle your waste or pre-made patio plants and vegetable growing containers.
The second thing you will need is some form of watering system, whether that be a watering can or self-watering pots. A drip-watering system can be used if you're thinking of going for a gutter garden type style but as can capillary matting which helps with even watering.
Apart from those things, you might want to invest in a couple of pruning and harvesting basics like a trowel, secateurs and things like potting soil, fertiliser, and plant food. All of which are necessary for most plants to grow.
Moving onto some additional equipment, you might need to do a DIY vertical garden. Wooden pallets and wooden crates are always useful and can help if you're trying to save space. Here are some other ideas to spark your imagination:
Trellis -A trellis is an excellent way to provide structure to your plants. It is a framework that can be used to support most climbing plants. They can be a great mix of function and form, and smaller trellises can be paired with window boxes to grow a delightful mini herb garden or salad greens.
Shelves - Shelves are also a great idea as you can stop them if you have limited space. You can construct the shelves out of what you have to hand but make sure the shelves are deep enough to act as a container in their own right.
Hanging Pots - Hanging pots and baskets are great and popular when creating a vertical vegetable garden. As long as you have somewhere to hang them, you can get away with hanging baskets almost anywhere. For example, if you have a balcony, they can go on the railings, or you can drill hooks into the walls. Some vegetables thrive in hanging planters, too, like lettuce and herbs.
To ensure that you are meeting your garden's maintenance needs, you will need to clear away the debris regularly. If this builds up, it might start to cover some of your smaller plants and vegetables. If this happens regularly, think about moving them into individual pots.
Next, check for any harmful insects that might be eating away at the leaves. Remember to check underneath too!
Make sure you regularly water all of your plants on their watering schedule, and don't forget to harvest the plants when they are ripe; otherwise, they will rot in the container.
If you plan, then your maintenance tasks won't take that long because you can spread them out over the week. Initially, developing your schedule can be time-consuming, but once you have got the hang of it, the process speeds up, and you'll have more time to enjoy what you've sown.
There are a lot of options when it comes to coming up with planter ideas. You can find many resources online that can help you repurpose anything that you might have lying around. In fact, sustainability is a big part of this trend, with many people getting into it to live a more sustainable existence. You can make your structures out of metal or wood, although do make sure that you weatherproof them and that they don't rot or rust over time.
Do you have an old ladder lying around in the shed that you never use? You can repurpose it and give it a new lease of life by transforming it into a quirky plant stand. It is exceptionally easy to set up; all you have to do is lean the ladder against a wall or fence and set up your plants. It's one of our favourite DIY projects.
You can either use potted plants and place one on each rung or use the rungs as a shelf for a hanging basket. You might find that your ladder rungs aren't wide enough for your pots to sit on comfortably; you might want to consider looking for a ladder with wider rungs, or you could use a double-sided ladder and create your own shelves by affixing planks to either rung.
Wooden pallets and crates provide one of the easiest and most effective bases for your vertical garden. You can usually find them cheaply or for free from local businesses or places like Gumtree.
They do not take much construction, and most of the time, you can simply lean them up against a wall or fence panel, which makes them such a good option for renters who might not want to drill holes in walls. You can fill your pallet with plants or use hanging baskets which are suspended from the planks.
A rain gutter garden is another popular choice; all you need is a rain gutter and plants. You can repurpose any old rain guttering you may have, or you can pick some up from a garden store.
All you need to do is cut the guttering to your desired length and drill a few drainage holes. After that, it is simply a case of hanging the guttering and then adding the plants. Rain gutters are often not that deep, so you will need to find plants that are compatible - they're great for growing herbs.
Vertical bottle gardens are very eco-friendly, and they are a great way for you to recycle your plastic bottles. They can be any size, from small 500ml bottles to bigger 2L bottles. To make a bottle into a planter, all you need to do is lie it down and drill a hole on the bottom; a length of twine or rope is fed through and used to hang the bottle up with.
Then cut out a hole on the side that's big enough to fit the plants in. Drainage holes are recommended too. All that's left after that is to plant your crops and hang them up. Make sure that they are hung sturdily on solid posts or fencing. A great way to get more from what we usually think is a person's trash!
A hanging grid garden is perhaps the most involved to set-up of all the methods listed above. However, you should be able to find a wire grid of some sort fairly easily.
There are a few different methods that you can then use when constructing your grid. Firstly, you can use a rope to tie your pots to the grid, although they can get heavy, so make sure they are secure. An alternative is to cut out prongs from the grid and use them to hold the pots steady.
A grid can be a space-saving solution, which is excellent if you are tight on garden space. You just have to decide the size that works best for you. They are usually bigger than pallet planters or mounted bottle gardens, so bear this in mind when placing them - your plants will need more room.
If you've got a green thumb and want to try your hand at growing some vegetables, but you don't have as much space to work with, then we highly recommend having a go at creating a vertical vegetable garden. It can really help you to make the most of the space you do have.
There are so many different vertical garden ideas that vary in creativeness and ease of implementation. Hopefully, some of these vertical vegetable garden tips gave given you some inspiration to go on and create your very own.