What is a vertical garden?
Living in smaller and smaller spaces people find themselves with little space in which to grow even a few plants. They may have balconies, courtyards or no horizontal space at all. Vertical gardening – planting your plants up against a wall, trellis, fence or any vertical surface, becomes the only answer. There are many options available to the enthusiastic gardener – from DIY sort of gardens – bottles, pallets or mounted boxes to pocket systems and modular wall units – that can be extensive. They can be soil-based or hydroponic, on timers and dripper systems or just watered by hand.
How can one go about creating one?
Depends on your choice of garden, financial commitment, what you wish to grow and type of material… or just contact Vertical Veg (www.verticalveg.co.za) and we can supply you with panels of pockets of various sizes to fit your space and requirements.
How does a vertical garden work?
Vertical Veg pocket panels are firstly mounted onto a wooden frame – which gives strength and stability to the panel. The frames can then be fixed to any wall surface, or can free-stand or even be hooked over a vibracrete wall. Without a frame, the panels can be tied onto a trellis or fence or even round a tree. We also supply adaptations to attach panels to a water tank. The pockets are filled with our recommended potting mixture and planted up with whatever plants are required. Watering can be by hand, with a garden hose or the panels can be fitted with a drip-irrigation system. These systems can be incorporated into existing irrigation systems.
Requirements for a vertical garden?
A vertical/ wall surface such as a courtyard wall, side of a house, trellis, fence, balcony, water-tank, tree. A Vertical Veg pocket panel or two, some planting medium and plants.
What kind of plants, vegetables and fruits can be grown in a vertical garden?
Generally speaking the smaller edibles such as your spinaches, most herbs like rocket, marjoram, thyme, etc.., some small chillies, some brassicas, trailing peas and all lettuces. Edible flowers like calendulas, violas and pansies, nasturtiums and snapdragons also do well. Very large plants that become heavy will snap and break in the wind and the ‘pot’ being too small, like tomatoes, lavenders, broccoli and cabbages. Large plants such as bush habit courgette are too large and heavy but trailing plants of the pumpkin family e.g. can be seeded on the wall and then trail off onto the ground. Fruit trees and shrubs are not suitable. Root and bulb veggies can be grown but the amounts that can fit into a pocket may not make it worthwhile.
Are they cost effective?
In terms of labour – yes. Easily managed at eye-level. Easy to spot pests – and take action so less pesticides needed. Because water will drain down from the top pockets – the total amount of water needed is less than if they were all indivually in pots. Water-retention granules or vermiculite can be added to the planting medium to make them even more water-wise – and so more costeffective. Easy to replant and the pockets will last many years. The panels can be cleaned easily with a gentle brush of soap and water.
Can they be grown indoors?
Some vertical garden structures are made to be self -watering (on irrigation systems) and have special grow lights installed. The water is very carefully controlled as is the growing environment. However Vertical Veg pockets – unless specifically fitted with a gutter and water is exceptionally well managed – are not suited for indoor use. But they are perfect for the outdoors, where further planters can be placed underneath / below the panels to catch the water dripping off the base.
How much damage can environmental factors- sun, rain- cause?
Vertical Veg pockets can basically take the rain and snow and reasonable sunlight. The fabric has been treated against UV exposure – as are all the components. However harsh sunlight – such as a very hot, north-facing wall – will dry out the pockets very quickly and the plants will become stressed and burn. The best treatment is to maintain coverage of the panels with plants, keep watered and preferably not on a hot north-facing wall.
Why are they a good option?
Vertical Veg pocket panels can be placed where it is easy to see the plants – easy to keep an eye out for pests and disease and treat effectively where and when necessary. Also easy to plant and easy to harvest. Makes good use of unused space so everyone can grow a few food items. Nothing more empowering than growing and enjoying your own home-grown food. Vertical Veg pocket panels are very accessible for physically challenged people – no more bending to garden – as well as being easy to reach from a wheel chair.
Tips and tricks about Vertical Gardens
Choose a very good and suitable planting medium. Your plants’ growth is only as good as the food you give it. Choose plants that you enjoy eating and that would be suitable grown vertically. Remember to feed often – after all they are in pots on a wall – so roots cannot forage widely. Harvest regularly as most plants respond well and produce more when trimmed often. Intersperse the main veggies with edible flowers – looks beautiful and helps with companion planting. Take into account the plants’ requirements for water and place those that need / prefer less watering at / near the top of the panel and those that can tolerate more wet near the bottom.
What to look out for if you’re creating a garden for the first time
Read up as much as possible about what you are trying to achieve. Make a list of the plants you want to grow. Check their seasonal, water and food requirements etc.. Ask your nurserymen – so you know how to group them. Don’t be put off by failure – just enjoy the experience of learning. How to be self-sufficient – or even just to eat a little fresh, pesticide free, organic, home-grown food, is the ultimate reward and so up-lifting!
What are the panels made of?
The main body of the panel is made from a geotextile. This is an artificial fibre with a lovely felt texture.
How long will they last?
Correctly maintained (see instructions with each panel) they should last 5 – 10 years.
Will the panel rot or change colour?
Since soil and water are placed in the pockets, it is natural for the colour from the soil to drain through. So yes, it will change colour and develop a patina on the outside over time. The pockets can be washed if you would like to do that. The fabric will not rot nor tear with proper maintenance (see instructions with each panel).
Is there a guarantee / warranty on the panels?
We offer a one -year manufacturer’s guarantee on our panels. T & C’s apply.
Planting & Maintenance:
How much soil will each pocket take?
This depends on the size of the panel you have purchased. The big pockets take 3dm3 of soil and the small pockets take 1,5 – 2dm3
What sort of soil should I use?
We recommend a light potting soil – ask at your nursery.
What plants can I plant?
We suggest herbs and soft leafy vegetables as well as edible flowers but any plants of your choice can be planted – as long as they do not get too tall and heavy (they will snap)
How do I water the panel?
The panel can be watered by hand with a watering can or a hose or a drip irrigation system can be fitted to surround the panel, and also be incorporated into an existing irrigation system.
How often should I water the plants?
This will depend on a few things: on the type of plant and its’ requirements, the type of soil you have used and lastly the aspect where you have placed the panel. Treat as you would for pot plants – which usually need more water and food than those in open ground. If it is in too hot a place, it will dry out more quickly.
How often should I feed my planted panels?
This will depend on the type of plants you have, and their requirements. Generally, we recommend using a liquid feed either directly into each pocket or if you have the panel on an irrigation system then adding food into that system.
How do I install my panel?
All our panels come with their own installation instructions. These can also be found on our website here.
Can I replant the panel?
Once plants are past their best or have died, they can be removed and the pocket replanted. This can be done several times. (as one would with any pot plant).
Where can I get the panels?
Panels can be purchased directly from the online shop on our website. If you would prefer you may mail us and we can arrange for delivery to you.
Vertical Veg panels are also sold on various other online shops if you wish to purchase other goods at the same time– please see our website for details here.
How can I pay for the panels?
Vertical Veg is linked to the PayFast payment gateway which is secure. Once you have chosen to pay through PayFast you will be directed to their site to complete payment.
Alternately you can send us a mail with your order and we can invoice you for the amount and send you our banking details. Delivery will be arranged on proof of payment.
Who will do the delivery?
Delivery will be through our courier – usually to your door. You will get a tracking number via email through them.