After a post on the options for growing pumpkins in small spaces, I thought I'd share some of the benefits of growing your garden UP rather than just traditional use of space on the ground and in containers. One example is the nifty recycled bag planters Lenny Librizzi created that can be mounted on a wall or fence and have been used to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and collards.
With limited time to spend in my garden, I'm a firm believer in maximising space and minimising work and one of the clever design ideas you can use is to grow vertically. There are many advantages of vertical gardens but they really come into their own in micro garden spaces where options are often limited - such as those with small backyards, balconies and courtyards.
Here are a few of the benefits:
- Maximise Limited Space: Increase the growing space especially when it is at a premium in a very tiny area like a balcony, verandah or courtyard.
- Increase Accessibility: Plants are easier to reach – makes maintenance more convenient and saves your back.
- Healthier Plants: Getting plants up and off the ground improves air circulation = healthier plants and less pest & disease problems.
- Less Damage: If you struggle with pets, bush turkeys and other animals/birds damaging your crops in the ground, this removes the edible temptation!
- Grow More Plants: Expand the number and kind of plants you can grow in your garden. Some vegetables like pumpkins that grow on vines and take up a lot of 'personal space,' can be trained to grow up and over a trellis in a very compact area.
- Higher Crop Yield: Obtain a more productive harvest of food crops by growing UP and using particular techniques like espalier.
- Create a Micro Climate: A living natural shield can insulate a building (from heat, air pollution or noise) and help to regulate temperature by cooling and shading an area. You can also create a micro climate by adding a vertical structure like a tepee, trellis, pergola, arbor, arch or A-frame that will provide shade below. The cooler spot under the support will suit shade-loving plants, and sun worshippers will thrive climbing up and over so you get the best of both worlds.
- Improve Air Quality and your Health: Research has revealed that plants improve both indoor and outdoor air quality by removing harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and absorbing pollutants. Houses have been found to have consistently poorer air quality indoors than out, even with external pollution. So growing plants vertically even in compact spaces like windowsills, balconies, front entrances and hanging in aerial space will make a BIG difference to your health.
A good example of creative thinking is Lucinda's simple DIY vertical growing system using pipes and pots. Watering from above trickles down to those plants below. She's grown this in her Sydney small space strata title permaculture garden. Lucinda lives in a small apartment block of eight so doesn't have space of her 'own' - just a shared communal garden area so working with a body corporate can be tricky. You can also see the Permaculture principle of using small slow solutions coming into practice here! This compact growing system is just one of many ways of using vertical space wisely.
Hopefully this list will inspire you to think about growing UP but if you still need more reasons to grow vertically, you can find them here.
Is anyone else growing vertically? Would love you to share your photos and ideas or I can share more structures and photos with you ...