Picture: Vertical courgettes
Do you live in the city? Do you want to grow a vegetable garden but don’t feel you have the space? Apartment dwellers of the world unite! Its time to pull out your green thumbs and get planting.
Far from being the latest green fad, vertical vegetable gardens – yes, gardens that grow upwards, rather than outwards - are by no means a novelty to the well-seasoned horticulturalist; trellises, fences, wire netting and poles are all fairly common garden accessories. But even the coolest of green minded urbanites may be surprised to find out that they don’t have to pack it all in and move to the countryside to cultivate that long sought after dream of eating home grown veggies.
As children we all relished in the small miracle that was planting tiny seeds in plastic cups layered in damp cotton wool and watching the small sprouts poke their heads out and reach up to the sky. More often than not after the initial wonder lost its appeal and the sprouts dried up that was that. Now all that needs to be done is take that piece of early wisdom one step further, onto our balconies, hanging from our roofs and climbing up our walls.
Light, water, soil. With these three basic ingredients you can grow virtually anything, anywhere – even upside down! There is plenty of information out there to get you started (see the links below) but here are a few pointers.
Take some time to think about how much sunlight there is and what vegetables you actually like eating. The kinds that grow well vertically, but that need lots of sun, are things like cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and carrots. If the sun don’t shine much on your particular patch of urban terrain then best try your luck with leafier greens like lettuce or cabbage.
Keep thinking green and recycle containers that would otherwise end up in the bin to plant your organic seedlings in, ponder on whether you have the space for a compost kit so you can recycle your food scraps and save money on nutrient-rich soil.
So, although I find the prospect of the futuristic vertical farm project alienating to say the least the stories of those who have overcome climatic and spatial adversities (of which we will be facing more of in the not so distant future thanks to climate change and population growth) by using their creativity to find unusual but effective gardening solutions, like Suzanne Forsling who grows lettuce from the walls of her house in Alaska, inspire me to envisage a more nutritious urban landscape. And I can’t help but agree with dear old Uncle Monty when he declares the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium.
To find out more about keeping your green cool and growing your very own vertical garden: