We haven’t messed with the orchard for several weeks now. Today it is time, and we are going to do it specifically in a very booming urban garden modality. The vertical garden. If we have space problems, a small terrace, a balcony, a wall of a roof with an adjoining building wasted, the wall of a sunny patio … There are many empty walls and if there is a wall, there may be a vertical garden.
In his day we talked about green roofs as a decorative medium for buildings of the 21st century, and we discussed some characteristics, benefits and how to mount a vertical wall with species such as ferns, ficus and various plants that lend themselves very well to wall crops. But, have you ever thought that instead of ornamental plants you can plant fruits and vegetables that you can later eat? That’s right, welcome to the vertical garden. A unique way to take advantage of high-rise horticulture in a small space. Let’s see in a few steps what we must take into account to mount one.
FACTORS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT TO MAKE A VERTICAL GARDEN.
It is not necessary to elaborate on this topic, but it does not matter if you have a vertical, horizontal or hanging garden. The climate is the first limiting factor of the species that you can plant wherever you have your wall to hang the garden. There’s no more.
It sounds silly, but it’s basic. This will greatly condition the types of crops that we are going to be able to plant. If the wall faces north, there will be many things that we cannot plant, because not enough light will reach them. For common garden gardeners, the orientation needs to allow for prolonged exposure during the day.
Orientation is not only about the sun. It can also benefit if it is a wall that promotes a certain shelter from the prevailing wind of the area where you live.
The irrigation system can be another “headache” if you want to complicate your life a lot or do not know how to do it. The easiest thing is to use a shower or similar if it is a habitual residence (a very high percentage of times). But if you don’t want to be very aware of watering, we recommend a gardening micro dripper system with a programmer . It is relatively simple to assemble, you click a dropper in each pot, bag or planter and with a programmer it is solved. Of course, you must have a water outlet nearby for this.
THE CHOICE OF SUBSTRATE
In old post dedicated to mulches and growing on roofs , we mentioned the suitability of a substrate look very light since the slabs of buildings often are not designed to withstand much weight on a roof. The earth weighs a lot, and if we water it, I won’t even tell you.
In vertical gardens we can also have this problem and even make it more problematic if we get out of hand with the height of the vertical garden. “Hanging” pots or planters with soil is a considerable weight and we have to lighten as much as possible. Mainly because making a vertical garden supposes a greater unit of load on the same slab surface.
Substrates with a good base of vermiculite , perlite , expanded clays, earthworm humus to enrich and some universal substrate achieve mixtures with water retention capacity, draining in turn and most importantly; lighter than normal earth.
AND THE HYDROPONICS APPLIED TO THE VERTICAL GARDEN?
It is the extreme of this type of cultivation, but it requires a very controlled infrastructure and very well studied and applied nutrient doses. It requires greater automation and being more aware of the garden. Deviations in parameters such as pH are very unstable if the doses of nutrients are not controlled and the pH of the substrate or root environment is something to take into account in any crop. It has its advantages and disadvantages that we tell you in the following articles. Of course it is possible in a vertical garden and it is done at an experimental level and even commercially. I have already seen hydroponic lettuce for sale. And the main reason is that in the same meters you get more performance working it upwards. It’s like growing hops .
WE ARE NOT IN FAVOR OF REUSING PLASTIC FOR A VERTICAL OR HORIZONTAL GARDEN.
You will read in many blogs that recycled plastic bottles, carafes, trays … are a good support for your vertical garden crops. We sincerely believe that there may be a problem about it.
On the one hand, we have an inordinate plastic industry for packaging that is sometimes good to reuse, and on the other hand, an extreme social alarm with certain plastics and their health hazards (water bottles are the clearest example). All now to buy glass bottles that are inert and healthier. We no longer care about carrying container weight for health.
However, we are able to reuse hundreds of plastic containers to support a vertical garden. Well, we disagree. Taking into account that we are precisely looking for places of continuous exposure to the sun , we do not believe that using this type of plastics is going to be our benefit. What’s more, it may even harm us. We have not found studies in this regard, but we do know that the degradation of plastic by the sun’s rays is evident. And that degradation goes to the land where the lettuce that we are going to eat is planted.
There are already studies on the impact of microplastics on the food chain and there is a lot of talk about fish and the sea. But we do not contemplate that they also end up in our crops as a result of the use of sludge from waste treatment plants that we then use to irrigate and fertilize.
We particularly believe that supports made of untreated wood, ceramic pots (even if they weigh more) or planters , are going to be the best support for crops that we are going to put into the body later. The problem with ceramic planters and pots is weight, so another option is felt bags , much lighter and with the ability to stay soaked when watering.
If there are companies that manufacture totally harmless plastic containers, which do not degrade then well.
WHAT CAN WE PLANT IN A VERTICAL GARDEN?
Leafy vegetables that are not too heavy and have a short root depth such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, arugula, chives, watercress, lamb’s lettuce, chicory, borage, strawberries, chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, peppers, celery, shallots, raspberries, blackberries …
WHAT CROPS WILL IT BE DIFFICULT FOR US TO PLANT IN A VERTICAL GARDEN?
The first factor that we find against a vertical garden is weight, so all those crops that are going to develop heavy and large fruits could be a problem. If the earth is already heavy, and wetter, if we add the weight of the fruit … Crops such as cucurbits (zucchini, squash, watermelon, melon …) are not the most suitable. Brassicas such as cabbage, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli are not the best example either.
Root harvest crops are also a bit limiting . Carrot, potato, radish, onion, although carrots are possible with deep containers.
AROMATIC PLANTS ARE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE FOR A VERTICAL GARDEN
The cultivation of aromatics is many times easier than any of the garden vegetables. They do not usually suffer from pests and diseases, moreover, many of them repel certain insects such as basil . Some are very rustic, others require very little watering and you can always have a variety of fresh aromatics for your kitchen. In those that do not require too much watering you can not prick the dropper for example or water less frequently.
Aromatic plants that do not require much watering
Aromatic plants that require moderate watering