Often times urban gardens are located in small yards, balconies and other compact areas where is is difficult to maximize yields. One solution to this is vertical gardening. This allows us to plant up instead of out, which means you can more efficiently fit produce into the available space. I will include some popular and easy options that you can try at home!
If you have ever grown strawberries you know that they shoot out runners almost every year and can easily take over a garden if not divided and moved. For people with large spaces this can be a blessing: More runners = more delicious strawberries. For people with small gardens this can mean less room for other plants and flowers. A solution to this is the strawberry tower. An easy solution that can be made with either PVC or wood (other things too, reuse wine boxes, use your imagination!). The basic idea it to create a tube (or long rectangle) with many holes in it. In the spring divide up your strawberries and fill the tube with soil. Place one plant in each hole and watch your beautiful strawberries come to fruition. These tubes can be hung from rafters or fences or placed in a weighted bucket so it can be moved.
Some plants require trellises in order to grow properly, like climbing roses for instance. Some plants can be trained to climb trellises which will allow you to plant the ground they would normally cover. Cucumber, squash and zucchini can be tied to trellises as they grow in order for them to grow up instead of sprawl on the ground. This can create room for shade tolerant plants like spinach and tatsoi under the trellis.
We at DUGS love reusing items for our gardening purposes, the less waste the better! You can use rain gutters for planting plants with shallow root systems. This includes most lettuces and green, as well as herbs and flowers. There are so many ways to use them in your garden, attach them to fences or walls, drill holes in the sides of them and hang them from your porch or balcony. If you can’t find rain gutters, no worries! A simple length of PVC cut in half can easily create to “gutter-style” gardens.
These are only three of many ways you can maximize use of your small space. Stack pots on top of each other! Plant the walls! Be messy and be passionate! Gardens don’t have to look neat and tidy, they are places of growth and life. Enjoy yourself and the food and flowers you helped grow!
~Mackenzie Thornbury – Treasurer