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Growing Green: Tips for starting a vertical garden

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    In doing research for some recent classes, I have become hooked on the idea of vertical gardening. As I explore this type of gardening further, I am blown away by all the innovative and exciting ideas I have found.

    Gardening “up” has always made sense to me, and I have included all sorts of trellises and poles to support vines in my garden, but I have been limiting myself in my narrow definition of vertical.

    Here are some exciting new ideas I have found that you might want to try in your garden this year.

    Pockets: Many companies sell special garden “pockets” to assist in vertical gardening. Fill these pockets with soil, plant your seedling and hang on a vertical wall. But why not try shoe pockets? (You know, the kind that hangs over doors?)

    Many of these are made of porous material and would work very well for all sorts of cascading plants. Try blue lobelia for cooler sites. Calibrachoa comes in many glorious colors for sunny sites, and many herbs and vines also have a trailing habit.

    Planting trays are a great way to display your succulents. These trays have redwood sides, a waterproof bottom and a wire top. Fill the tray with a good quality soil and push your succulent cutting through the wire with a pencil.

    Water them in and keep them horizontal for about a month to allow the roots to develop and the plants to stabilize. Once the plants are secure, hang your living picture on an exterior or interior wall.

    For more information on this type of vertical gardening, check out succulent gardens at (Don’t miss their YouTube videos!)

    Found objects make excellent vertical gardening containers. If you have some left over rain gutter, paint it, hang it and plant herbs. An old wooden pallet can be painted, hung on a wall, and pots filled with colorful annuals can hang from the slats with hooks.

    How about old animal feeders, tires, planters? Stack them in an eye-pleasing display, and fill them with color and texture to brighten up an otherwise dull spot in your yard.

    Vegetable gardens lend themselves to vertical growth as well. Trellis vining crops that otherwise would take up a lot of space in your garden. Pumpkins, squash and cucumbers can all be trained vertically.

    For heavier fruits, provide nylon “hammocks” to support the weight. Plant tender greens and other cool loving crops in the shadow cast by these trellised veggies to protect them from the harsh afternoon sun.

    For more information on vertical gardening, visit

    Until next time, happy gardening!

    country, extension, gardening

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