Growing Vertical Veggies

This post is the second entry into Safecastle’s Freedom Awards writing competition. There are great prizes to be had, so check that link out and send us your entry. ************* Hey folks, This is gat31 here and Rangerman has been kind enough to let me write an article in response to those of us who would like to have a garden, but don’t really have the space. So I have been looking into alternative gardening methods to help us all out. I’m going to give you a few methods I have found and maybe you can get some ideas. I live near a company called Vertigro. They do hydroponic gardening. Like its name suggests, you grow vertically. Now this is a great method for the space challenged, however it can be pricey to do the initial set up. So feel free to research that method if you’re budget allows, but here’s some more economical yet workable options. One method I have seen is PVC pipes and chains. You hang two chains roughly 3 to 4 feet apart (depends on space) and you take 4″ and 6″ pipe, cut out the top, and drill drain holes in the bottom. Then put end caps on that have a hole drilled in them. Attach hanging hooks and wal-lah, you have “rows” for gardening.

Top row is for your smaller stuff, radishes, butter crunch or romaine lettuce, bean sprouts, herbs, etc. This is also a way you can start plants for later in ground if you are in colder regions and can’t put plants in the ground yet. Middle rows will hold hanging or vining plants, peas or beans. Bottom layer is for items that has bigger heavier items, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc. The bottom layer(s) is better for the 6″ pipe. Another option is trellis growing. I found a long window type planter at a thrift store for 2 dollars. I filled it with dirt, planted a squash, zucchini, lima bean, and pea plant. Set  the planter in front of a strip of lattice board and let them do their trick. As they grow, guide the plants up the trellis and they will be great. Not to mention all those plants make a flower first so the nosy neighbors will just think you have nice flowers. You could also use one of those little arch things that people have at the end of their walkway and plant beside each foot of those too. If you don’t have lattice board, you can take eye hooks, put them in the ceiling, then wrap twine, floor to ceiling around your planter a couple times and use that for guides as well. The other day I saw strawberries in a hanging basket, and we’ve all seen the topsy-turvey tomato growing method. Hanging baskets and pots are always options and can be used in conjunction with any of these other methods. I even had a friend of mine plant seeds  under his window AC unit. (He lives in a 1 room apt.) Remember you’re not trying to feed the masses, just give your family a few fresh items that will help you survive if stores are closed. Just a side note here for anyone doing gardens this year. Seeds can be expensive so anyplace you can cut corners always help. Go to your grocery store for your bean and pea plants. In the dry bean aisle, they have several options. All those beans that are not broken can be planted. I found a 9 bean soup bag. Most of those were intact and were plantable. Lot cheaper to buy a 1.49 bag of peas then 2.00 an ounce envelope of peas. Another option I found was the dollar store. At my Dollar Tree, they had seeds that are too late to plant this year for my region on sale for a quarter a pouch. My seed bank for next year is filling up nicely. These can be kept in a cool place or even in the fridge or freezer for next season. Also only plant what you need. Seed prices keep climbing much like gold and silver. I’ve limited my garden to 4 plants or less of each item. We won’t eat anymore than that so I saved the rest for next year. Happy gardening everyone and feel free to add ideas for those with very little growing space!
13 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. April 19, 2011, 8:43 am

    Thanks for the great ideas and tips. I tried to get a grape arbor going, using an arched cattle panel as the platform, but the soil wasn’t right for grapes – didn’t go anywhere. Still a good thought for future though. What had got me to try that was an article in Countryside magazine where vines (beans?) were grown on the cattle panel, shading the underneath vegetable garden. Seemed like a good idea.

    Thanks again.

  • Judith April 19, 2011, 2:25 pm

    That PVC pipe garden is really ingenious. Thanks for the idea!

    I have really good luck with cucumbers grown on trellises at the ends of my raised beds. I put green beans in the raised bed and then the cucumbers grow up and over the green beans. The beans are ususally almost finished by the time the cukes grow over the top.
    No luck at all with those upside down tomato things.

  • Jarhead Survivor April 19, 2011, 2:25 pm

    I’m going to try this with one of my square foot gardens this year I think. Great post!

  • Dee in OK April 19, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Thanks Jarhead.
    Another vertical method is growing herbs, lettuce, etc in a hanging shoe holder. Got one at Walmart for $6.00.
    Am trying it for the first time and will give you a review.

    • gat31 April 19, 2011, 5:31 pm

      man l love this idea! just be careful if it’s that thin plastic as the sun will eventually rot it out. l would make sure it gets some shade time.

  • Rushman April 19, 2011, 11:07 pm

    The PVC pipes kick Arse….love the idea

  • Joerocker April 19, 2011, 11:47 pm

    Thanks, good gardening ideas.

  • autobazar April 20, 2011, 4:24 am

    Thanks, it’s usefully for me.

  • Presager Buddy April 21, 2011, 1:29 pm

    After I bought a (or is it “an”?) hydroponic growing kit back in the 1980s and didn’t have much success, I began to think about “container gardening” as an alternative to limited space. I ended up combining two of the principles mentioned by attaching a trellis to a large barrel for my tomatoes. There were a few years when I didn’t exactly have an abundant harvest. The biggest cause of failure was poor drainage or too much rain. Rather than not enough drainage holes in the bottom of the barrel, it was, at least in the beginning, soil that didn’t drain well. It took a few tries to get it right.

    I’ve talked with a number of people who have done container gardening, both beginners and experience growers, and out of these talks I’ve learned a few things. One person saw failure because she had the tomatoes in a black plastic container on her deck in the hot July sun. The roots couldn’t take the heat. Wrapping this container with aluminum foil could have prevented overheating the roots. If the aluminum foil fouls your feng shui, the black container can be placed inside a lighter and larger one for sun protection.

    Tomatoes love magnesium and by adding a spinkle or two of epsom salts to the soil from time to time helps them grow. One of the effects I notice after using epsom salts is that the tomato plants do indeed grow. and grow. and grow. I found that I needed to cut some of the growth off sooner to allow the plant to focus on maturing the existing tomatoes that were already on the plant. Those who live in longer growing seasons may not need to be as concerned about this though.

    Most of the tomato plants that I’ve grown came from seeds that were saved from grocery store or roadside stand tomatoes. I save these seeds by spreading them on a paper towel. I allow them to dry for a month or more before putting them in a plastic bag. I keep the bags of seeds in a cool, dark place in the basement until I use them. On the other hand, some of the best plants I’ve grown are “gypsies” that germinated in the soil of my small compost pile.

    One other benefit of sprinkling epsom salts on the soil is that it helps keep slugs from attacking the plants.

  • Hokie April 21, 2011, 11:43 pm

    I like the hydroponic idea with PVC. Interesting!

  • Steve from AR April 30, 2011, 5:13 am

    Ive been experimenting with 4 to 6 inch pvc pipe about 18 inches long buried in the ground. Method: dig hole (been using a auger, post hole digger would work) insert pipe. If you put a pvc coupler on top of this you have an instant greenhouse for starting seeds. Ive tried growing plants in the bottom during the winter but that hasnt worked to well here. It keeps them alive but not much else. My plan this summer is to bury 12 inch lengths of 4 and 6 inch pipe in the ground with woodchips mulching (leftover from a clearcutting operation) The effect is like when you go under a house its really damp. Same with the pipe, especially with a mason jar on the coupler. Water from the ground collects in the jar when i check it in the morning so the the seeds ive routed recently that were over 5 years old are getting watered automatically. But back to the pipe in the ground. Im going to try spacing the pipe side to side with no gaps, pipe touching pipe, 3 t0o 4 feet wide and as long as i can afford, wishful thinking, 5o feet. Doing this allows me to feed and water only the plants i choose and there is no fighting for nutrients, just airspace, depending on the crop your looking at. Im looking at planting a special crop that if it works out may not have to get another job since i just got laid off, and no, its not growing stuff that is illegal. I saw on ehow plans for this type garden. Anyone have experince with this?

    • gat31 May 1, 2011, 11:11 pm

      l have not seen this but man l would love to have updates on how this goes. You know if you now have the time, an option you could try is getting some 4 by 4 trays and seeds and plant trays of stuff that you could later sell like in a flea market setting. We have a flea market here half a mile from me and plants and veggies vendors get free space. One day a week we also have a farmers market per say in front of city hall that’s also free. If you can find a feed store that still sells seeds by the weight not just one ounce packages, it might be the way to go.
      You can usually buy topsoil cheap if you buy it bulk instead of bags, get a bag of perilite to add to it, and it will help make the soil light enough for the plants. My local kmart lets me have the trays their plants come in so you can transport your plants easier. With Tomatoes, the bigger the plant, the more people pay. Ask friends and neighbors most have old pots laying around from plants and also landscaping places will have them and most will give them away. Take some plants and put them in bigger pots and let them get bigger and you can sell them at a higher price. l find beans and peas sell really well because they can be planted anywhere. (like fence lines, hedges, water drains from the roof, etc.) Wish l could help ya with this planting method, but maybe l helped with a little extra easy income. :)
      Good luck and please keep me posted.

  • Nicolasa Klaas July 25, 2011, 10:01 am

    I dont believe in man made Global Warming. The more the pirates the more global warming


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