Thursday, March 15, 2012

Small Space Gardening: The Vertical Garden

[caption id="attachment_14743" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Vertical garden"][/caption]

Bob Ewing - The garden is one place where size does not matter. No matter how small a space is, the knowledgeable and determined gardener can grow plants that will thrive, if the plants are chosen to match the amount of light available. Light is a determining factor, for example, a small space that gets six to eight hours of sunlight per day can be a thriving food garden.

When the available garden space is small, look up, and think vertical and not horizontal. Gardens already use vertical space to grow peas, beans and tomatoes for example, do not stop there but let your imagination design a garden that reaches for the sky.

Consider containers when planning your small space vertical garden, most vegetable plants can be grown in a container, as long as the container is big enough to allow the root system to develop. Do not cramp the plant’s style give the roots room to breathe and drink. Zucchini, cucumbers, beans, peas, are all great plants for a vertical garden; add a trellis in the container if the plant needs support.

You may also want to give some thought to the hanging tomato and strawberry plants I see in nurseries everywhere. I plan on incorporating one of each, at least in my upper balcony garden this spring.

In previous years, I have placed a container on the floor of the balcony and let the beans climb the railings, for support. This works for miniature squash as well. Seed companies have developed miniature varieties of some plants and these, while not heritage so I would not save the seeds will do quite well in a small space.

Squash and melons can be grown vertically but do take some room to grow. If you choose to grow them be sure to provide them with a safety net so if they drop off the vine, the net will catch them.

You can also stack containers on a stool, step ladder or anything else that has a grade so each level get the sun the plant needs.

Plant stands, often used for indoor plants, can work for herbs. If you do not have the time or inclination to make your stand, you can buy what you need.

When growing on a deck or balcony be sure to place something that can catch the excess water that will run through the plant, during a heavy rainfall, for example. The deck can get quite messy if you do not make provision for overflow.

Plants in container may dry out faster than plants in the earth and cannot send their roots down to find more water. It is your job to be sure they get the water they need. Be sure to add compost to the containers about six weeks into the season or at the half way point. This will renew the plants’ food supply.

Do not let size intimidate you, small gardens can proceed great yields, It is not how big the garden is but how you tend it that counts. Do not let the small space stop you from growing some of your own food.