GIVE VERTICAL GARDEN A TRY
Growing upward a whole new approach when you’re short on space and time
Are you a gardener who is short on space or time? Take your plants vertical.
Ben Friton founded Can YA Love, a Washington, D.C.-based company that gives vertical-gardening classes around the world.
During Friton’s travels through East Africa, he saw upright growing systems made from burlap sacks in areas with barren or contaminated soil or little space or water. These sack gardens feature bags filled with soil, with holes cut for plants such as kale and chard.
Taking plants above ground makes it possible to grow herbs, flowers and produce in places where soil is nonexistent, such as on a city balcony the size of a postage stamp.
Less apparent advantages include portability. When Friton realized the sun wasn’t hitting the plants in his backyard, he built a vertical garden and moved it to where it could get proper sun. Vertical gardens require less irrigation than in-ground plots and — perhaps the best part — little or no weeding. Esthetically, they can lend beauty to blank or uninspired walls and surfaces.
The patent-pending structures Friton works with through Can YA Love are made from fencing and straw. Gardeners can make more rudimentary vertical beds using wooden shipping pallets.
Friton says just about any plant is a good candidate for vertical gardens, though non-climbing plants and those with shallow roots perform best. He advises that you place plants that don’t need a lot of water at the top and those that love moist soil at the bottom.
Because the pallet will be heavy, this project is best for two people. In an ideal world, you’ll let your plants take root for a week before flipping the pallet upright. But if you don’t have that kind of time, you can gingerly lift it and lean it at an angle to prevent the soil from spilling out.