A Partnership: Growing Vertical part 2

In the second part of this posting, we will discus our vertical planters, and their benefits.

This Vertical Garden partnership was perfect for us for a few reasons.
First, we had run out of space in the beds and planter boxes, and we wanted to grow more! Secondly, we understood that the space along the fence is easily accessed, and wasn't currently being utilized. Thirdly, living walls are a perfect way to showcase how to grow even in a limited space, like on a balcony or patio. With planting upwards instead of outwards, you'll be able to take advantage of space for growing herbs, flowers, edibles or whatever you fancy!

Vertical gardens in background of photo with tactile panels

 Katie (see part 1 of growing vertical) purchased our garden panels with money that she raised from selling Girl Scout cookies and through donations she received by tabling at our Farmers Market. In addition to purchasing the panels themselves, Katie bought the equipment necessary for installation and irrigation.  I knew it was going to important for us to think about irrigation for the vertical garden.  The pockets of the vertical garden are small and black, so we expect them to dry out quickly between waterings. Since they're hung along the fence, they also receive a good amount of full beating sun, so we wanted to ensure we had an irrigation system in place, so we wouldn't have to worry about our plants experiencing drought and extreme heat.

Katie installed micro sprayers through small washers above each pocket, and tubing was organized along the backs of the panels.  Her design was efficient, and kept the overall look of the panels neat.   The tubing was then connected to our irrigation lines, and tied in with automatic waterings. Micro-sprayers were a good option for us, but I think drip line would also work wonderfully for these.

Example of sprayer head, and a frog friend who seems to be enjoying the planters, too. (left)
Example of irrigation design on the backside of vertical planters. (right)

In planting the vertical Gardens, we decided on annual edibles, herbs and flowers.  Those are the easiest plants to engage with in that space, and the varieties we chose could grow without a ton of root space. Succulents or trailing plants would also work great in a vertical planter.  As our growing season for edibles is in the winter, we were able to get a good month or so of growing in before we need to re-evaluate for summer. Currently, we're harvesting some of those plants we added in February, and thinking about what to add next. If there's something you'd like to see us try, just let us know!

When they were first installed in February, some spaces of the vertical planter were planted by kids that we see in our weekly program, Little Lizards.  The spaces that couldn't be reached by little hands, Katie planted. We use heirloom varieties appropriate for our climate, all grown from seed in house. Of course, over time we will be switching the plants out as needed.

So far, we've been able to harvest greens, herbs, flowers and seeds from these little pockets. I'm really happy with how they've turned out, and I love that they add an element of engagement to an otherwise dead space. Although the idea of vertical gardens has been around for a while, it's something we've always wanted to test out for ourselves. We encourage growing in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Containers and vertical gardens are a perfect way to make gardening comfortable and accessible in limited space.  Come by the Learning Garden to see what's currently growing.  Maybe it will give you some inspiration for your own patio (or living room- garden goals!).

When speaking with the public at the Farmers Market, Katie had many inquires about the living gardens and if she would install them at people's homes.  If you want a vertical garden for your own home, there are a few companies locally that offer installation. However we found it rewarding and pretty simple to do them ourselves, if you're up to the challenge!

The vertical garden allowed us to build a lasting relationship with Katie and her family,  engage the public in the Learning Garden, while providing an accessible space to grow sensory friendly plants. A win-win-win if you ask me!


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