Vertical gardens: dig in!

Recently I watched a news segment on the popularity of vertical gardens in Vancouver and thought this was the perfect solution for the south side of my house. A vertical garden is when you grow plants in some sort of frame, using pots to minimize water usage and space requirements. I have a narrow strip of land between my fence and the house. My green thumb is a particularly unhealthy shade of green thus my gardening skills are pretty limited. I’ve killed raspberry bushes - not proud - just sayin’.

I created a frame using 4x4 posts, approximately 8 ft. apart. I used 1x4 boards to run between the posts. The boards on the front and back are 11” apart, vertically. I did the same along the back, with 2 inches offset so the back row was lower. This creates a slope that a typical 1 gallon plant pot fits perfectly into. The pot is actually locked in place by three points. I used 2x4 metal joist hangers and considered running a 2x4 along the back to support the weight but the 1x4 seems to work fine. I did drill a hole and secure it with a bolt.

Initially I created a trickle irrigation system, with a line into each pot. With limited water pressure, I was forced to install valves so I could isolate each row and water one row at a time. Watering the whole garden takes 15 minutes and when it was hot, I was forced to do it at least twice a day. I created a ‘fertilizer tank’ using 3” black PVC pipe and attached it to one of the end posts. The top opens and I can dump in fertilizer.

Next year I want to build some temporary plastic walls to enclose it to extend the growing season in the spring and fall. I would also like to automate the water system with timers and I want to put a trough along the bottom for larger plants like zucchini, cabbage and cukes. The system drains very well, and the plants in the bottom would likely not require irrigation. If I had filled the top row, I could fit about 100 pots, and with a trough on the bottom, you could easily produce a lot of produce (little pun there)!

I grew cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and a whole variety of items. Peppers did very well, but were small. Carrots were sometimes 6 in a pot, with a mixture of long and short. My one pepper plant was 3 ft. long and my eggplant flowered very late, and I only harvested a single, small fruit. Well, would you look at that…my thumb’s changing colour to a healthier green!

If you have questions, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected].

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