Permaculture

Vertical growing ideas for small gardens

DSCN0055To the extent that urban apartments are getting smaller, houses are getting bigger and the garden spaces are shrinking. This brings interesting challenges if you want to create an edible garden. You don’t need a big space if you want to grow larger plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peas. Vertical gardens are perfect for patios and balconies, no matter the size.

The possibilities of using edible plants to create privacy and protection in the garden perimeter are limitless. Before creating a vertical garden, ask yourself some questions:

  • How much natural light do I have?
  • What vegetables, herbs or flowers grow with this amount of light?

Once you understand more of the challenges you face, you can start researching the needs of plants. With a little creative pruning and using ropes and wires to direct plant growth, plants can be targeted to achieve shapes and magnificent features. You can get high productivity in a small area, using fences to cultivate vines and by creating guilds of companion plants. Try planting malabar spinach, choko, climbing beans, cucumber, gourds, grapes, kiwi, loofah, melons, nasturtium, peas, pumpkin, squash and tomatoes.

Tripods and trellis

Tripods can be used for plants that like stretching to the sky and at the same time, serve as a protection for other elements such as a small worm farm. Remember that all garden structures must be created to improve the species growing conditions. If the structure is creating dark areas in the garden for other plants include objects that reflect light.

A metre and a half is the ideal height for a vertical frame in a garden space. Higher than this may cause instability of the structure. To encourage lateral growth, it is necessary to prune the top of the plant. This will not damage the plant, rather it will encourage the plant to sprout new side branches or side shoots along the main stem and will allow the ripening of fruits already placed.

High Walls

If your garden is enclosed by a high wall or fence, think that this may be an opportunity to extend your outdoor space. When a high wall or fence is used only to separate the neighbouring land, the shadow is an inevitable result. Highlight the fence with vines, plants and colourful decorative objects in order to transform the wall in a beautiful vertical garden.

Walls can be used to grow plants and vines that resist wind. In cold climates it may be possible to use the sun next to plants that prefer the heat. Simple gardens can be created by simply hanging gardens onto the wall structure.  Mix flowers with herbs to attract beneficial insects.

Pergolas

30-12-2003 Pergolas can be added to provide shade and privacy, extending living areas and maximising the benefits cooling the house. A pergola can also be used as a small nursery to plant seedlings and of course, to grow food.

My pergola brings a little charm to the house, creating a relaxing place to meditate, read or just watch the garden grow. The grid of the pergola allows room for vertical growth in areas that can function as shaded natural corridors. They can be covered with grapes, kiwi, passion fruit, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, beans or even just roses.

Hot Buzz: Patrick Blanc is the master of green walls. His walls are not edible but they give you great ideas for creating beautiful edible gardens. Read more from the master of green walls

Author: Laila Helena

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