Our Vertical Garden Experiment

I have always been a fan of gardening; I like to see plants grow & thrive.  I’m not saying I have a green thumb or even know what I am doing half of the time, but I like to experiment. I’m sure growing up around a family owned plant nursery & being responsible for maintaining our yard in my early teens helped form this appreciation of greenery.  Now I live in a condo with very limited outdoor space.  We have a small patio off of our bedroom with just enough room for a couple of chairs, small table and some plants.  Luckily we also have a 4’x32’ side yard off of our 2nd bedroom.  Not a lot of space to experiment, but large enough to keep me trying.

This past father’s day (my first!) my wonderful wife surprised me with a trip to a neighborhood nursery to buy supplies for a vertical garden.  I had seen many different examples of this on a few of those home and garden shows and thought it would be a perfect fit in our small, narrow side yard. We talked with Bill and he suggested a very simple set up:  One 2×12 board, wire mesh, plant cloth and a staple gun; basically create our own plant pockets on the 2×12.  It would be easy to move around if needed and pretty simple to assemble.  We bought the wire and plant cloth and headed home (I hadn’t decided on the plants at this point).  Instead of buying a 2×12 board, I went searching for someplace that sold reclaimed wood.  I discovered we had a Habitat for Humanity ReStore near our neighborhood.  We checked it out and found one half of a pair of a bi-fold closet door for $20.  Perfect!

Once I had all the materials together, I began building my Vertical Garden.  I have no idea how well any of the plants will do in their new home or how the closet doors will hold up to the moisture, but that is part of the fun for me. I cut the wire mesh to form 1 foot deep pockets, bent it around the closet door and secured it with a staple gun to the sides.  The plant cloth was cut to fit and I was able to slide it inside (later I put the cloth down first and then the wire).  I put 3 pockets on the door and stopped there.  Next I had to decide what to plant.

Growing our own fruit, veggies and herbs always sounds cool, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth the wait or effort.  Maybe if one of us becomes a passionate cook, I will change my mind and go all out. For this experiment, I decided to go with one pocket of strawberries (3 plants), one pocket with Spearmint and Stevia (good for sweetening mixed drinks!) and the last pocket I put some flowers for color along with a small Basil plant just for kicks.  All of the plants require around 6 hours full sun which shouldn’t be a problem since our side yard is south facing.

Even though I have a bi-fold closet door, I’m only using one of the doors for now.  I want to see how things go for a couple of weeks and determine if I can improve on the design.  I’m already happy with the way it turned out and can’t wait to get the other door set up.  Besides working well in small spaces, the vertical garden also keeps our edibles away from Domingo.  Although we share the side yard with him, we really don’t want to eat anything that he has left his “mark” on.

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