If your patio is like mine and about the size of a postage stamp, you will notice that it is imperative to manage space. Yet a small space does not mean you have to give up your favorite plants, fruits and vegetables; it just means you have to become more creative with how you grow your garden! Vertical and container gardening are two fantastic ways to manage the space in a small area, while yielding a bounty of fresh produce comparable to those with larger areas to grow. The techniques described below are useful for gardening at homes with small backyards, apartments, and for those who would like to grow more plants per square foot.
Vertical Gardening: Vertical planting refers to growing plants upwards in lieu of horizontally in a traditional garden bed. There are a number of simple and more elaborate ways to build a vertical garden. And it seems there are just as many benefits to building a vertical garden as there are modes to make them. Some of the advantages include: vertically grown plants will naturally become less pest and disease prone. This is due to the plants being away from the ground where pests tend to gravitate. You may also be keen to the fact that you will no longer have to remain stooped over a garden for hours, as vertical planting means less time spent harvesting while leaning over a garden bed. Weeding and tilling also become less necessary in some circumstances. Another fantastic benefit? You (and the environment) will like that less water is required for vertical gardening, and your plants will look healthier as oxygen has the opportunity to circulate more evenly. Now stop counting all the money you’ll be saving on your water bills and from avoiding the chiropractor and let’s get gardening!
Plants Suitable For Most Vertical Gardening: If you plan on building your vertical garden up from a chain link fence, trellis or vertical lattice; be aware that you are limited to what you can grow. Plants that grow upward and can be trained and/or have vines work best for this type of vertical planting. Plants that work best are: Tomatoes, Green Beans, Lettuces, Cucumbers, Melons, Squashes, Corn, Chard, just to name of few. All of these varieties can be found within Veggin’ Out and The Producer. If you plan on hanging your plants in baskets; all herbs and plants from Uncle Herb’s Favorites and Hot Mama’s Chiles and Peppers will work exceptionally well.
Vertical Gardening Tips and Tricks: To grow a vertical garden inexpensively, use a chain link fence, trellis, hanging baskets or a garden lattice. Other effective structures include: nailing decorative cans to a wooden fence, using an old dog kennel or shelving unit, and building your own structure using garden fencing and pipes. Watch to see how the vines and plants grow naturally, and secure the plants with garbage bag twist ties or gardening green tape. Secure the plant at the bottom, again at the center, and one at the top without impeding the growth. Vining plants climb by twisting and clinging. Therefore, build a structure that can sustain the weight of the vines and plants. Once the vines have been trained, they will grow naturally upward on their own.
Plant the vertical garden next to shade loving plants like herbs, and away from sun-loving plants like vegetables. If using hanging baskets, line them with moss to keep in moisture after you water. Did you know that if you hang your plants from baskets or pots, you can actually have the same number of plants as a square foot of garden space?
Container Gardening: Container gardening is another practical way to garden in a small area. Likewise to vertical gardening, almost anything grown in a regular garden can grow well in a container garden. In addition, this type of gardening is easy to maintain, and can be done inexpensively. This is because once you have built your container garden, you may continue using it season after season, and year after year. Below are a few helpful tips to avoid the common mistakes made when container gardening, and to ensure your garden thrives just as well as a standard outdoor garden.
Choosing The Best Container: Luckily there are a vast array of containers to choose from that will suit a variety of needs. We find that wood, plastic and strawberry containers are the least expensive, but can easily rot and sustain wear and tear after frequent use. Therefore, if you prefer containers that will withstand the hands of time, then ceramic or metal containers are worth the investment. Just be sure you drill a few holes at the bottom if they do not already have a drainage system. Please note that large containers are also the easiest to maintain plants in due to the extra growing space.
Get clever with your containers and have the most original garden in the neighborhood! Who would have thought that laundry baskets, decorative trash cans, pumpkins, used soda bottles and wooden barrels make great containers for gardens? You’ll soon be that savvy gardener all the neighbors talk about (in a good way!).
Plants Suitable For Container Gardening: Most plants from Uncle Herb’s Favorites, Veggin’ Out, Hot Mama’s Chiles and Peppers and The Producer will work well in your container garden. Stay away from exceptionally large vegetables like watermelons, cantaloupe or squash. Large containers can also fit a variety of plants with different shapes and sizes in just one container.
Tips and Tricks For Container Gardening
Use the Humble Seed companion planting blog post to find which plants grow well next to one another so that you can easily plan each container successfully. Redwood and Cedar wood is relatively less likely to rot than other wood containers. Drill holes at the bottom of the containers for drainage (if holes are not already present), and line the bottom with newspaper so that soil does not escape. Plant bright foliage around your container garden for some added texture and color. Do not use flowers. Use light colored containers in the summer to reduce heat absorption, and darker color in the fall and winter months.