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    A vertical vegetable tower filled with SSA Ultra Coir supports lettuce and tomato plants.

    Vegetable gardens have grown up with the dawn of vertical gardening. Gardeners and growers have learned how to maximize their space and harvest by planting on walls, posts or pylons—either via prefab vertical gardening solutions or clever self-made innovations. But to make the most of any vertical garden, you need to start with the right soil for the job as well as good, consistent care.


    GroVert living wall planters are a great way to grow greens and herbs on a space-constrained patio or veranda. (image care of GrowVert)

    Fruitful vertical gardens have several essential elements: a well-structured support system, a consistent irrigation program, and very good drainage. It also helps if the contained system holds enough growing mix to enable plants to grow vigorously and reach full potential. A good, lightweight but water retentive mix and quality fertilizer are the two final key ingredients to success.

    We recommend Sunshine Advanced Mix #4 or Sunshine Advanced Ultra Coir for your vertical gardening needs. Both are more lightweight, because they don’t any heavy compost—just peat, perlite and coir. They are ideal mixes for growing in everything from grow pouches, to vertical pot systems, or even rain gutters affixed to a wall or lattice. Vertical gardeners more in favor of coir-based mixes should choose SSA Ultra Coir, and those that prefer growing in peat should go with SSA #4. Any quality granular (such as Black Gold Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer) or water soluble fertilizer formulated for vegetable or fruit growing should do the trick when it comes to fertilization.

    The right choice of fruits and vegetables for your vertical garden will also bring greater yields and success. More compact plants are always better suited to vertical systems, so choose more compact lettuces over massive Romaine types, compact basil varieties over taller types, and high-yielding determinate tomatoes over indeterminate. Other easy vertical gardening veggies include herbs, small-rooted carrots, beets and radishes as well as dwarf bush beans, peas,  and even bush cucumbers. Always know the final size of your plants before planting and the smaller the better.

    A post garden from My Garden Post is just the thing for small-scale vegetable gardening.

    A post garden from My Garden Post is just the thing for small-scale vegetable gardening. (image care of My Garden Post)

    There are lots of vertical gardening options to choose from. Some are pre-made and ready to purchase while others can be created from anything from hanging tiered colanders to closet shoe holders. For example, vertical pallet gardening has gained popularity, but before choosing this method, be sure that your pallet is constructed from non-treated wood. As far as prefabricated vertical growing systems, there is a lot of variety to choose from. Sturdy wood-based options, such as the western cedar constructed growing systems from Gronomics®, look attractive on a deck and are popular with small space gardeners. Less expensive options made of horticultural fabrics or plastics, such as the GroVert Living Wall Planter, are also a good choice and may be preferred by gardeners wishing to cover a lot of wall space. Other systems allow you to attach plastic pots to poles or walls, as with the products from My Garden Post.

    Whatever method you choose, small-scale vertical vegetable gardening offers a wealth of benefits if you plant smart, choose the right soil, and give your plants TLC. In no time you will be surrounded by walls of greens and veggies ready for harvest.

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