WILD CHILD VERTICAL GARDEN PROJECT: PART V
BENEFITS OF USING VERTICAL GARDEN PRINCIPLES:
• Growing more in less space.
• Making use of non-traditional spaces such as on walls and fences.
• Creating privacy, and hiding unsightly areas.
• Adding garden rooms and secret spaces to the landscape.
• Creating a low-maintenance garden.
• Providing more sun exposure.
• Slowing down the spread of fungus and disease.
• Allowing for better air circulation around the plants.
• Keeping plants up and off the ground, out of reach of pests and predators.
• Producing larger yields than bush or patio varieties.
• Providing more growing space than a traditional garden plot.
• Making harvest time much easier.
• Producing higher quality and cleaner yields.
BENEFITS OF A VERTICAL FOOD GARDEN:
• Vertical plantings grow more food in less space.
• Provides greater food security.
• Provides fresh produce that tastes better and is healthier for the diet.
• Eases local produce shortages.
• Provides low-cost produce. A $250 investment yields $675 in produce.
• Provides a reliable supply of produce.
• Extra produce can be preserved and stored for the winter.
• Is eco-friendly and sustainable.
• Reduces food waste and the carbon footprint.
• Reduces disease and insect damage.
• Harvesting is much easier.
HABITAT TRIPOD: Small birds like house wrens, house finches, goldfinches, indigo buntings, and chickadees need places to feed and breed where they are safe from larger birds and cats. Wrens feed on insects on the ground or in small bushes. A small dome-shaped nest is well-hidden and placed close to the ground, often in grass tussocks. Finches feed on insects and seeds on the ground. A large dome-shaped nest made of twigs and grass stems is placed above ground in a dense shrub. The habitat tripod provides both food and shelter for these small birds.
When deciding what plants to use, a mix of nectar and insect attracting vines and wildflowers will feed wrens, and native grasses will provide food for seed eating birds like finches. For shelter, vines growing over the tripod and shrubs filling the center will create a safe habitat for nesting.
A FRAME TRELLIS: This style of garden trellis is excellent for heavier items and is ideal for vertical gardening. Small space gardening has its restrictions, and this is the reason why many struggle with growing food. When growing vertically is an option, the A-Frame trellis is an excellent choice for pole beans, cucumbers, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, mini pumpkin and melons, and peas. An A-Frame garden trellis can be made of out of anything, with recycled material being an excellent option.
CATTLE PANEL TRELLIS ARCH: Commercially made garden arches constructed of wood or metal are attractive, but they’re also expensive. A great way to increase the growing space in the garden is a simple cattle panel trellis arch, which is extremely effective, affordable, and easy to install. A cattle panel trellis is a wire arch made from a piece of common farm fencing known as a cattle panel. Typically made from welded, four-gauge, galvanized wire, standard cattle panels are 16 feet long and 50 inches wide. They are straight, not rolled like fencing. Cattle panels can be found at various farm supply stores. The panel is bent into an arch and attached to stakes hammered into the ground.
STRAIGHT TRELLIS: can be used to train and support plants, create privacy walls and living fences, and as a space saver in the vertical garden. Straight trellis can be easily moved as the seasons change, and are excellent for crop rotation. They make pruning and harvesting crops easy to access, and can serve as a fence to keep predators out.
Straight trellis is an excellent choice for vegetable plants that rely on a support structure as they grow. Examples include cucumbers, pole beans, snow peas, and snap peas. Many other vining and sprawling plants may also appreciate the support of a trellis, including tomatoes, squash, melons, and sweet potatoes. Larger and heavier crops such as winter squash or melons will need the support of slings or makeshift hammocks under the fruit to prevent the vines from breaking.
In addition to vegetables, there are a ton of beautiful flowering or edible vines that will naturally grow up a trellis, including jasmine, black eyed Susan, honeysuckle, kiwi fruit, grapes, bougainvillea, nasturtium, clematis, maypops, and passion flower.
TOMATO & BUSH BEAN CAGE: encourages tomato and bush bean plants to grow upward and stay off the ground to avoid premature spoiling. The best cages give plants the greatest chance to grow tall and strong, and to produce a healthy and plentiful crop. High-quality cages are easy to assemble, use, and store, as well as durable enough to accommodate different varieties and stand up to the weather.
Most cages are made of metal with some slight variations. They may come in uncoated metal, coated metal, or galvanized steel. While metal can provide a durable and secure cage, uncoated metal may rust. Coated metal provides better weather resistance, and doesn’t heat up as much as uncoated types.
Cages range in size, with smaller ones measuring up to 15 inches high and larger ones reaching 72 inches high. For smaller varieties of tomatoes, such as Tiny Tim and New Big Dwarf, smaller tomato cages should do the trick. Larger plants, such as Beefsteak and Big Boy, will require larger tomato cages. Some tomato cages offer height adjustment, which makes them suitable for various kinds of tomatoes.
CAGES COME IN THREE MAIN SHAPES:
Curved-link stakes: are rectangular and provide more stability than ring-style cages. They also provide better support for heavier tomatoes and stronger plants. These cages fold up easily for simple storage.
Triangular cages: allow a plant more support for optimal growth because the bars are closer together. This type of cage is ideal for smaller varieties of tomatoes.
Ring-style cages: have a circular shape to provide ample room for plants to grow, resulting in a higher yield, especially when paired with the right fertilizer.
THE THREE SISTER’S METHOD: will be used as a companion planting and permaculture example. This method uses corn, pole beans, and zucchini in the same spot because they thrive together and support each other.
The Three Sisters’ Method deters weeds and pests, enriches the soil, maximizes biodiversity, and attracts pollinators. The balance of the Vertical Food Garden will include vegetables chosen for their high nutrition content, such as bush beans, cucumbers, okra, peas, peppers, squash, sunflowers, and tomatoes.