Gardening is one of the most satisfying activities you can find. Whether you garden as a hobby or a way of life, the process and the results are both immensely satisfying. Fresh air and exercise are guaranteed, while either beautiful flora or delicious produce will reward your efforts down the road.
Professional farmers may cultivate hundreds of acres, but most of us must make do with much less space. Some of us may not even have the space to plant a traditional garden with soil beds and plots. If you are strapped for space, you might conclude that it is impossible for you to plant a garden and that you must do without the fruits and the labors altogether.
Fortunately, scores of ingenious people have tackled this problem head-on and discovered or invented ways to plant a garden in very limited space. Some involve some cutting-edge agricultural technology, while others involve some unexpected uses for everyday household items. Some are advanced projects for experienced DIY-ers, while others are simple solutions suitable for all skill levels.
If you don’t have the space to till a traditional garden plot over many square feet of ground, one solution is to build a garden that takes advantage of available vertical rather than horizontal space. Vertical gardens are ideal for space-challenged urban dwellers or even for ambitious gardeners who need to maximize greenhouse space in order to grow food throughout the year.
I’m going to share a variety of creative vertical garden ideas from around the World Wide Web, to help you get any idea of ways to conquer your space limitations. Some of the ideas probably require a small amount of outdoor space, but a few may even work inside your house or apartment as long as you have enough natural light.
Although hydroponic gardens take some engineering skill to create, they are one of the best and most efficient ways to grow a large crop. Hydroponics refers to growing plants with nutrient-infused water rather than soil. The most efficient hydroponic gardens will re-circulate water to help keep the water cost of maintaining the garden extremely low.
Here is one vertical hydroponic garden from a company called greenUPGRADER. This is a company that will design and install a hydroponic garden for you if you live in an area that they service, but they also give a basic outline of the system and the components that are necessary to create one on your own. The most complex component of the system is the pump that creates a closed water system for the garden, pumping the water back to the top after it has circulated downwards past each of the plants.
Growing A Garden On A Wall
The idea of growing a truly vertical garden on a wall was first explored by a French botanist named Patrick Blanc. Blanc now creates elaborate wall gardens on commission around the world, but some of his ideas have been adapted by people who want to have vertical gardens in their own home. These gardens can be attached to existing walls, although some vertical gardeners have gone so far as to strip and rebuild one of their existing walls so that their garden becomes a part of the home infrastructure.
Wall gardens, or “living walls,” are the ultimate solution for the space-deprived gardener, and many people grow them indoors if they have a free wall that gets enough natural light. Living walls have become so popular that many companies now sell wall garden kits that allow you to easily build and install a garden of your own. A few sources for kits are floragrubb.com, eltlivingwalls.com, and sgplants.com.
Advanced DIY-ers can also take on the challenge of designing and constructing their own living wall. Like hydroponic gardens, living walls typically require an irrigation system to ensure that the plants get water regularly and to allow you to re-use water. A sprinkler or drip-system at the top, a gutter along the bottom, and a pump to circulate the water are common requirements for a living wall. However, some walls may be set up to permit manual watering – more work on a daily basis, but less cost and know-how required in order to set it up.
If the idea of a living wall sounds too arduous or expensive, there are always methods of adapting the idea into something more manageable. I love this idea from the blog Life On the Balcony for a garden made from a wooden pallet. Pallets are commonly discarded, and are usually pretty easy to find for free if you don’t mind asking around or visiting a few dumpsters. Once you have your pallet, soil and landscape fabric are all you need to get your garden ready for planting.
The pallet provides a nice compact structure that can retain soil moisture and allow you to grow your plants in between the slats. Best of all, the pallet can be turned on its side so that it takes up almost no space once the plants have grown large enough roots to keep them stable and in place. You should also make sure that you pack the pallet quite densely with soil if you plan to turn it on its side, to avoid significant shifting of the soil.
Plants In A Hanging Canvas Shoe Organizer
Even simpler to create than the pallet garden is this idea for a hanging garden on Instructables. All you will need is a hanging shoe organizer with pockets, but you will be keeping soil and seedlings in your pockets rather than your footwear.
You should have a trough or gutter below the rack in order to catch any drips from the plants, unless you will be hanging the plants outside. Several users have also cautioned that anyone planning to use the hanging rack to grow herbs or vegetables should make sure that there are no harmful substances in the material that might leech into the soil and into the plants. If you only plan to grow flowers, this should not be a problem.
A Dozen More Ideas From WebEcoist
There are many more great ideas for space-saving gardens, vertical and otherwise, to be found on the internet. Fortunately for us, a bunch of the best ideas can be found in one place courtesy of the website WebEcoist.
Not only does this page have some terrific ideas for tiny gardens, it also has some nifty ideas for easy watering systems such as soda bottle dripping and “self-watering” boxes. It even talks about the deceptively simple method of square foot gardening, that makes sure you are getting the most out of a single soil plot.
Some of my favorite ideas on this site are the flexible step garden made of narrow raised beds and the gutter garden. Some of the ideas are design concepts in addition to being clever gardening solutions.
©2012 Off the Grid News