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WISDOM FROM THE WILD CHILD GARDEN: SEPTEMBER 2023: VERTICAL GARDENING

A vertical garden can increase growing space and yields!


WHY A VERTICAL GARDEN? a vertical garden can provide vegetables, herbs, and plants for the gardener and the local community. Vertical gardening can be established in a wide variety of ways.


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.

VERTICAL PLANTERS: grow at least 75% more fruits, herbs, microgreens, plants, shoots, sprouts, and vegetables than traditional greenhouse plantings.


The Wild Child Tower Garden has the capacity to grow 56 herbs and vegetables per tower!


BENEFITS OF THE GREENSTALK VERTICAL PLANTER:

• The stackable garden system saves space.

• Helps plants thrive with an internal slow drip watering system.

• Each cell watered is evenly, and no water is wasted.

• Each tier has 6 separate and deep pockets to plant in.

• The composting tube in the center holds red worms for fertilizer.

• The planter is made with nontoxic, BPA-free materials.

• The planter fits perfectly anywhere.

SEEDS & PLANTS: MICROGREENS: Microgreens are the 2nd phase in the plant's life cycle, and 10-14 days old. The plant never has more key nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants than around the 14-day mark in the microgreen phase! All plants go through this phase, but the most popular microgreens are broccoli, kale, radish, peas, and sunflower. Microgreens are usually 4-5 inches long and can be grown in soil or a substrate like jute or coconut fiber. At this point of harvest, they have real leaves, stems, and roots. To harvest, cut them off about one inch above the roots and eat them raw.


Health benefits of microgreens:

• Microgreens contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and medicinal compounds than more mature vegetables.

• Microgreens are rich in polyphenols that lower heart disease risk.

• Microgreens are antioxidant-rich and lower the risk of memory disorders.

• Microgreens enhance cellular sugar uptake and prevent insulin resistance.

• Microgreens have intense and unique flavors.

• Microgreens are easy to grow.


Microgreens that thrive in a vertical planter include Alfalfa, Amaranth, Arugula, Basil, Beet, Borage, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Celosia, Chard, Chervil, Chicory, Cilantro, Cress, Cutting Celery, Dill, Fennel, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mizuna, Mustard, Pac Choi, Parsley, Purslane, Radish, Scallion, and Sorrel.

SEEDS & PLANTS: SHOOTS: Shoots are the productive center of a plant that help to grow leaves, flowers, and the stem. Shoot are functionally responsible for photosynthesis in plants and also for their reproduction.


Health benefits of shoots:

• Shoots are rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber, and minerals.

• Shoots are very low in calories and fat.

• Shoots contain fiber that protects the digestive tract from food toxins.

• Shoots are rich in B-Complex vitamins essential for metabolic function.

• Shoots have a high copper content essential for red blood cell production.

• Shoots have high levels of potassium which control heart rate.


Shoots that thrive in a vertical planter include Bean, Buckwheat, Nasturtium, Peas, Popcorn, Sunflower, and Winter Wheat.

SEEDS & PLANTS: SPROUTS: Sprouts are the first phase of the plant's life cycle. They are barely germinated seeds that have grown in water for 2-5 days. They are usually only a couple inches long, don’t yet have real leaves, and can be eaten from seed to root to stem. Sprouts are pale in color, have not gone through photosynthesis, and have no green chlorophyll.


Health benefits of sprouts:

• Sprouts have the highest concentration and bioavailability of nutrients.

• Sprouts have a high enzyme content that improves digestion.

• Sprouts are rich in iron that is essential for red blood cell production.

• Sprouts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids that reduce cholesterol.

• Sprouts have a high antioxidant content that reduces signs of aging.


Sprouts that thrive in a vertical planter include Bean, Broccoli, Kale, Mustard, Onion, Radish, Sprouting Mix, and Winter Wheat.

SEEDS & PLANTS: BERRIES: Berries are one of the healthiest foods available. They are delicious, nutritious, and provide a variety of impressive health benefits.


Health benefits of berries:

• Berries have a high concentration of antioxidants.

• Berries improve blood sugar and insulin resistance.

• Berries are high in fiber and low in net carbohydrates.

• Berries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

• Berries help reduce the signs of aging.


Berries that thrive in a vertical planter include Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry.

SEEDS & PLANTS: CULINARY HERBS: Culinary herbs are herbaceous plants that are used to add flavor and color to all types of meals. Herbs are the leaf part of a plant that is used in cooking, and they can be used fresh or dried. Fresh herbs often contain higher antioxidant levels compared to processed or dried herbs. To harness their health-promoting aspects, add the fresh herbs at the end of cooking to preserve these properties.


Health benefits of culinary herbs:

• Culinary herbs may help to prevent and manage heart disease.

• Culinary herbs provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

• Garlic, linseed, fenugreek and lemongrass help lower cholesterol.

• Garlic is useful for people with mildly elevated blood pressure.

• Fenugreek controls blood sugar and insulin activity.

• Culinary herbs are rich in antioxidants.

• Cloves, cinnamon, sage, oregano and thyme reduce bad cholesterol.


Culinary herbs that thrive in a vertical planter include Amethyst, Lemon, and Thai Basil, Fine-curled Chervil, Garlic Chives, Dill, Lovage, Parsley, Salad Burnet, Saltwort, Shiso, and Tarragon.

SEEDS & PLANTS: MEDICINAL HERBS: Medicinal herbs are herbaceous plants that are used in traditional herbal medicine to aid, restore, and harmonize the body systems. The parts of the plant used include the roots, flowers, leaves, stems, bark, and seeds.


Health benefits of medicinal herbs:

• Adaptogens help the body adapt to stress and normalize body systems.

• Nootropic herbs enhance memory and cognitive function.

• Immunomodulating herbs modify the body’s immune response.

• Anti-microbial herbs fight bacteria and fungus.

• Antioxidants stop the production of free radicals.

• Anti-inflammatories ease inflammation and pain.


Medicinal herbs that thrive in a vertical planter include Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Dandelion, Fennel, Lemon Balm, and Spilathes.

SEEDS & PLANTS: ROOT VEGETABLES: Root vegetables are starchy vegetables that grow underneath the soil. The starchy part, called the storage organ, grows underground while other parts of the plant grow through the soil and to the surface. The storage organ provides the rest of the plant with the nutrients it needs to keep growing.‌ While the peak season for most root vegetables is spring through fall, growing them in the greenhouse ensures that they're available all year long.


Health benefits of root vegetables:

• Root vegetables are packed with fiber to aid digestion.

• Root vegetables are high in antioxidant content.

• Root vegetables are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol.

• Root vegetables are rich in carotenoids which help protect the eyes.

• Root vegetables are nutrient dense and packed with vitamins.

• Root vegetables are high in potassium to help protect the heart.


Root vegetables that thrive in a vertical planter include Baby and Early Wonder Beets, Red, Green, and Mini Cabbage, Carrots, and Radish.

SEEDS & PLANTS: LEAFY GREENS: Leafy Greens are plant leaves that are eaten as a vegetable. Leafy greens are brimming with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and eating a healthy portion every day provides protection from many diseases. The body feels more satisfied since it is getting the essential nutrients each cell requires to function properly.


Health benefits of leafy greens:

• Frequent consumption of leafy greens can lower mortality risk.

• Leafy greens are low in fat and high in fiber which protects the heart.

• Leafy greens have a low glycemic index which helps balance blood sugar.

• Leafy greens have high levels of osteocalcin which keeps bones healthy.

• Leafy greens are rich in beta-carotene which improves immunity.


Leafy greens that thrive in a vertical planter include Cheap Frills Mix, Cress, Kale, Mizuna, Sorrel, Spinach, and Swiss Chard.

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.


Plant suggestions for nectar plants include bee balm, butterfly weed, and coneflower. Plant suggestions for native grasses include blue stem, Indian grass, muhly, and switch grass. Plant suggestions for vines include trumpet honeysuckle, jasmine, passionflower, and wisteria. Plant suggestions for wildflowers include aster, cosmos, Shasta daisy, and scarlet sage.

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 passionflower.

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: can 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 can include vegetables chosen for their high nutrition content, such as bush beans, cucumbers, okra, peas, peppers, squash, sunflowers, and tomatoes.



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