A vertical vegetable garden is a simple way to boost growing space, reduce insect and disease problems, and beautify decks and patios. In my veggie plot, I use structures like trellises, stakes, and obelisks. These support vining tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, gourds, peas, and pole beans. But, I also have a vertical vegetable garden on my back deck and patio. With a little creative thinking, you can grow edibles on walls and fences, or create your own vertical space with hanging baskets or pallets.
There are several great books on growing food vertically. Three of my favourites include Vertical Vegetables & Fruit by Rhonda Massingham Hart, Grow a Living Wall by Shawna Coronado, and Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell.
5 fun vertical vegetable garden ideas:
1) Salad tower – With a salad tower, you’ll never run out of homegrown greens! Easy to make, this is a cylinder built from a sturdy wire mesh, lined in plastic, and filled with soil. To build, bend a 6 foot tall section of metal mesh (like concrete reinforcing wire or a chicken wire-like mesh with holes at least 4 inches square) into a two-foot diameter cylinder. Line with a garbage bag or a large plastic sheet. Fill with moist potting soil. Poke holes or cut an X through the plastic and slip a seedling into the cylinder, making sure the roots are pushed into the potting soil. Continue to plant seedlings all around the cylinder. Water well and feed every two weeks with a liquid organic food. Mix and match lettuce, arugula, spinach, chard, Asian greens, and kale for a tapestry of greens.
2) Hanging garden – A hanging basket takes up no ground space, but can offer a bumper crop of sweet strawberries or tumbling tomatoes. Look for everbearing or day neutral types of strawberries for the longest harvest. Hang the basket in a sheltered sunny spot, and water and feed often.
3) Pallet garden – Pioneered by Fern Richardson, author of Small Space Container Gardening (Timber Press, 2012), pallet gardens have become a huge garden trend in recent years. A pallet garden is an easy and effective way to grow compact vegetables and herbs like salad greens, baby kale, dwarf peas, bush beans, parsley, thyme, basil, and rosemary as well as edible flowers like pansies and calendula. No pallet? No problem! You can also buy cool pallet-like planters like this Gronomics vertical garden. Perfect for salad greens, strawberries, herbs and more.
4) Gutter garden – I was first inspired by Jayme Jenkins, who contributed her unique gutter garden design to my book Groundbreaking Food Gardens. But any crafty gardener can create a vertical gutter garden. It can be attached directly to walls and fences or hung with chains. Don’t forget about drainage – use a drill to make drainage holes on the bottom of your gutters, add end caps, and then fill with potting soil. Best bets for plants include curly parsley, alpine strawberries, lettuce, spinach, ‘Tiny Tim’ tomatoes, and nasturtiums.
5) Windowbox wall – One of the easiest ways to grow food vertically is to secure window boxes or individual pots to fences and walls. To really stand out, paint the containers in bright colours before they are hung. Plant with compact herbs, vegetables, and strawberries.
Do you have a vertical vegetable garden?