Vertical Gardening

Growing vegetables upward (vertical gardening) can be a gardener's dream, especially if you have limited space to grow vegetables.





Advantages

If you live in an apartment with adequate sunshine, you can grow a variety of vegetables on your balcony using planter boxes, hanging containers, or topsy turvey upside down planters for growing tomatoes.

There is no bending or squatting involved using this method of gardening because you can stand up while you work on your vegetable plants. This saves wear and tear on your back.

I don't know about you, but for me, saving as much wear and tear on my back is a huge consideration to use this method of gardening, whether you are growing plants on a balcony or in your back yard.

So, let's consider a few other advantages of using vertical gardening when growing vegetable plants.

Air circulation is increased because plants are vertical, allowing fruit and foliage to dry off faster when they get wet from rain.

Fruit and foliage diseases are reduced from soil born diseases because the fruit and foliage is not laying on the ground.

Here is one of my favorites. Because you use less soil as traditional gardening, you won't have to weed as often.

Because your plants are up high, there are fewer problems with soil crawling pests having easy access to the plants foliage or low hanging fruit.


Choosing Plants For Your Vertical Garden


Here is a list of just a few vegetable plants to give you an idea what you can grow.

Depending on what kind of construction system you use (and we will discuss this later), you can

grow such popular vegetables as tomatoes, peppers, snap peas, Lima beans, Roma beans, cucumbers, acorn, butternut squash, corn, and some varieties of melons.

Vegetable Garden Tip - When you head to the nursery, make sure you buy vining plants not the bush varieties.


That said...There are two important things to keep in mind about vertical gardening. First your choice of vegetable plants you intend to grow, and second, using suitable construction material.

Vining plants climb by means of tendrils, that twine, or cling to a structure. So make sure your choice of structure material is strong enough to support the weight of the plant.


Vegetable Plants Structure Material

Apartment Dwellers

If you're an apartment dweller, twine or jute is a great structure material to use for your vegetable plants. The only work involved is to secure the twine to the top of the balcony ceiling and let it hang down and fasten next to your vegetable plant container. This will allow the plant to climb upward vining around  the twine.

Another alternative, would be to hang a pot from your balcony ceiling and let the plant grow downward toward the balcony floor. 

You also can apply the balcony method to a patio or any other structure high enough to keep the plant from touching the ground.

Growing In Your Back Yard

  • Bamboo Poles:

    Bamboo poles also make a great structure material. They are  inexpensive requiring only three erected poles in the shape of a tee pee.


  • Wire Cages:

    Wire cages are also inexpensive and can be purchased at any gardening store outlet. They are ideal for a raised bed garden or placed in a large container such as a large garden pot.

  • Telescopic Spiral Tree:

    Are an ideal structures that will allow vining plants to grow upward with little help or encouragement. You can usually purchase spiral trees from most internet gardening sites.

If you have a trellis or garden arbor in your back yard, they are also an excellent source for vining plants.

Do keep in mind that no matter what structure you use, make sure the location receives at least 10 hours of sunshine each day.


Dollar Cost and Construction Material

If you are excited or curious about vertical gardening and new to the technique of growing your vegetables vertical, let's pause for a moment and make a quick decision.

How much money do you want to spend on your vertical garden?

Depending on how much you are willing to spend on construction material, vertical gardening can cost you several hundred dollars or more.

Now the good news!...It doesn't have to.

If you have a garden budget, there are a wide variety of options available to grow and enjoy your vertical garden within a reasonable price range.

Look around your yard for any existing construction material you can use for your plants to climb.

Do you have a chain link fence? This is an ideal support for your plants plus you get the added advantage of adding a little beauty and privacy to an otherwise bland or ugly setting.

You can pick up vertical lattice at Lowes or Home Depot made from rough wood available in four feet wide by seven feet high sections for less than ten dollars per section. They make a great support system for your plants and can be erected most anywhere in your garden.


One of my favorite locations is next to the side of my house or against my garden wall. I also leave a little space between the wall and lattice for air circulation for my plants.

You can brace the bottom of the lattice structure by inserting the bottom lattice stakes into the ground.

Hang twine (jute variety is very good) from a tall overhead horizontal structure such as patio or balcony and fasten the twine at the bottom to the floor of the structure. Place you plant container near the twine and slightly wrap the climbing plant around the twine.

From then on, the plant will wrap around the twine as it continues to grow.

At the end of the growing season the twine can be discarded along with any intertwined vine growth.

And of course...the most basic of all construction material is inserting a single pole or stick in your vegetable container pot to support your plants as they grow.

For tying your plants to this form of support use stretchable green tape available at any garden center. It is easy to tie and knot to support the vegetable plant and will not harm them or impede their growth.

Gaining popularity with many gardeners (especially if you have limited space), is to grow vegetables in containers or a raised bed garden

If you don't mind spending some extra money you can spice up the look of your garden by purchasing garden containers, self-watering containers, garden arbors, trellises, or pergolas. Any of these construction materials are available in an assortment of sizes, shapes and material. There are even products available for small areas such as a balcony.

We usually think of vertical gardening as growing upward. Remember too your vegetable plants can also grow downward.

If your garden space is really small, why not use topsy-turvy plants (miniature tomatoes plants are a popular choice), or hanging baskets, in a porch or patio area, or even on a balcony. You can also add a touch of flare by choosing different pots of different sizes, shape and color.


Gardening Plant Care

Vertical gardening is no different than traditional gardening or a raised bed garden when it comes to gardening plant care.

Vegetable plants need sunlight to grow and produce fruit. Do keep this in mind when you plan or decide where

your plants will be located. If you are not sure of the bright

sunny areas in your garden, go out when it is sunny and check the arc of

the sun throughout the day noting areas the sun reach and those areas that are in the shade. Choose an area in your garden that will receive full sunlight for at least 8 to 10 hours each day.

You can also check with your local nursery for advice on plants that will thrive in conditions they will encounter in your garden.

Do keep in mind that vertical gardening plants will cast a shadow so make sure you plant them far enough away from any sun loving crops. 

On the other hand, shade tolerant crops will love and welcome your vertical garden plants that cast a shade.

Because vertical growing plants are exposed to greater air circulation, they dry off more quickly than non-staked vegetable plants. This helps in reducing fungus disease and fruit rot. However having greater air circulation will also cause the plant soil to dry out quicker especially on sunny days, so make sure you water and fertilize your vertical plants more frequently to avoid letting the soil become completely dry.

  • Vegetable Garden Tip - To reduce frequent watering, use mulch at the base of the plants.

    If you grow plants on the side of a wall or side of your house be sure the sun doesn't reflect too much heat back to your plants.

    To check to see if the ground is warm enough to grow cucumbers at the beginning of the planting season, sit on the ground for a few minutes. If it doesn't feel cold then it is warm enough to plant. Of course, for container pots, test using the palm of your hand.

    Because it soon will be vegetable planting time depending where you live, now is the time to start growing seeds for planting when the time is right.

In the beginning of this article, I mentioned several plants you can grow vertically. You can read more about growing tomatoes here on my website or as an added resource you can read more on tomatoes at grow garden tomatoes.


Happy gardening


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