Posts Tagged ‘vertical gardening’

Vertical Gardening: Think Up!

Monday, September 20th, 2010

CaixaForum image source:

Ever since May when we explored the idea of creative ways to garden in small spaces, we here at aHa! Modern Living have felt greatly inspired by the concept of vertical gardening. The act of gardening up, instead of out, insures that everyone has room to grow, despite his or her lack of square footage. To try our own hand at gardening vertically, we are currently working on two exciting new projects: a vine trellis and a gutter garden. We can’t wait to see how these turn out!

Did you know that when it comes to vertical gardening, you can think just about as grand or as small as you would like? Take the image above, for example. This is a photo of a green vertical garden on one of the exterior walls at the CaixaForum, a museum in Madrid. It consists of 15,000 plants from more than 250 different species. And here they are, all growing and thriving together on the same wall. Did you know that so many different types of plants are capable of growing vertically? Amazing! Plus, we love the contrast between the old, rustic brown building with its rusted iron top and the lush, verdant foliage. It creates such an unexpected encounter between hard and soft, rough and natural.

Patrick Blanc, the creator of the wall, and a resident scientist at the prestigious Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique, has stated that vertical gardens can be grown anywhere, even in “those difficult spaces where you don’t expect to see greenery.” His success has come from studying the way that rainforests naturally grow and thrive. We find his work inspirational.

Vacouver Aquarium image source:

Madrid is certainly not the only major city with a vertical garden. The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris has another gorgeous wall that was designed by Patrick Blanc. The beautiful green wall at the Vancouver Aquarium (left) was inspired by those who wanted to prove that city buildings and ecology can coexist. Oulou Bar & EcoLounge in Williamsburg features a living wall that is totally designer chic and eco-friendly. The Sky Farm in Toronto is an excellent example of how vertical gardening can be not just pretty and practical, but profitable, too. The 58 story building will have 8 million square feet of growing space, and could grow enough food to feed 35,000 people every day.

Benefits of Living Walls

The benefits of these urban vertical gardens go beyond just the obvious. Yes, they are visually stunning, and the effect of wild, blooming exuberance confined to geometric boundaries is awesome.

  • It is a unique way to protect and insulate building faces.
  • The walls require little maintenance, as they are watered by drip irrigation systems.
  • Vertical gardens require 5% of the normal water requirements of field crops.
  • The plants improve the air quality of the city around them by releasing oxygen.
  • Living walls significantly cool the building, and therefore lower energy consumption.
  • Little to no soil is required, so cost is kept to a minimum.
  • The plants create a noise buffer, helping to shield city buildings from the noise of the busy streets around them.
  • When growing food, vertical gardening is easily scalable from small to very large production, and the gardens can be built on non arable lands, close to major city markets.

Feeling inspired? We knew you would catch our vertical gardening bug! Check out our tips for growing food in small spaces in this April blog, where you’ll find our tips for starting your own gutter garden. Or, check out this article from Gardening Tip ‘n Ideas on how to apply Patrick Blanc’s patented vertical gardening technology in your own home.

Get Creative When Gardening in Small Spaces

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Photo source:

For a moment, close your eyes and use your imagination. What do you see when we ask you to picture your ideal vegetable garden? Perhaps you see a vast, open space buzzing with bees and teaming with veggies, fruits, and blooms in countless varieties and colors. Or, maybe you are envisioning a beautiful wooden pergola, crawling with sweet peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Now when you open your eyes and see that your reality is actually a small 15′ by 15′ square of turf, or perhaps even just a tiny cement balcony, it’s easy to be disheartened. We’d like to remind you to make the most of what you have! For millions of people, urban dwelling makes a sprawling country garden an impossibility. It can be discouraging when this is all you see in gardening magazines and manuals. This doesn’t mean that you can’t plant a garden that you will love. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food!

The Benefits of Gardening in a Small Space

Yup, that’s right. You read that correctly. Gardening in a small space totally does have its benefits. And here are just a few of them:

  1. In a huge space, it takes an awful lot of plants to create a dramatic effect. In a small space, it is just the opposite. Your small garden can really pack a visual punch.
  2. In a mini garden, it is easier to detect and remove any plants that may be unhealthy or infested by bugs.
  3. Planting a small garden is friendly on both your budget and your time constraints.
  4. Designing a small garden is an easier task because you are able to take in “the big picture” and consider the whole space at once.
  5. A small garden is more likely to look lush and full, not spotty. Just make sure you leave about a 16 inch wide path to walk through and tend to your plants.

Container Gardening

Nearly any fruit or vegetable can be grown in a container. So if your garden space consists of a balcony or patio, this is an excellent option for you. The most important things to consider for your container garden are the plants’ water and sunlight needs. You’ll also want to select containers that drain well, and make sure you use a good quality organic potting soil to nourish your plants.

For everything you need to start your own container garden, check out the Modern Container Garden Kit. It’s totally perfect for starting your own fabulous garden on a porch or front door step. Once you receive your Modern Container Garden Kit, all you have left to do is choose your seeds. Some vegetables that are ideally suited for container growing are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, lettuce, squash, and parsley.

And don’t think you need to use ceramic flower pots for your container garden. You can garden in whatever you want! Try a plastic garbage can, a clay pot, a large bushel basket, or even an old boot! (Reused and recycled containers are awesome.) Just make sure you choose containers that will allow for a depth of one foot of soil for your plants. If you want to plant root crops, such as beets, carrots, or potatoes, you’ll need a soil depth of 2 feet.

Vertical Gardening

Photo source: Apartment Therapy

If you’ve ever been to the city of Tokyo, you’ve witnessed just exactly how humankind has mastered the art of utilizing vertical space. The city is so crowded that its architects all build upwards instead of outwards. If your garden space has a super small perimeter, you should definitely consider employing this tactic.

There are many vegetables that will climb, climb, climb if you let them. Here at aHa! we’ve given seeds for climbing veggies their own home in the Vertical Garden section. Check it out- you may be surprised by the variety!

Another good thing to keep in mind is that things that grow upwards vertically will also grow downwards. So, this means that your vertical garden may consist of hanging planters. Small varieties of tomatoes really flourish in hanging planters.

Succession Planting

Photo source: A Sonoma Garden

Succession planting is a great technique for any garden, large or small. But when it comes to mini gardens, this is an excellent way to maximize a small space because the space is really put to its most efficient use. With this method, there is never an unplanted area in the vegetable plot. As soon as one crop is harvested, the space is immediately replanted with a different crop.

One method of succession planting is to plant the same vegetable, but to space out the plantings to every 2 to 4 weeks. Bush beans, for example, can be planted every 2 weeks from mid-May to the beginning of August. So, rather than planting your entire row of beans all at once, you can plant part of the row at the beginning of the season, harvest, and then plant more in about 2-4 weeks. This is a great way to have a new crop of beans continually coming in.

Another method of succession planting is to plant different vegetables in succession. For example, some plants have a short growing season, and can be replaced with a different crop after they have been harvested.

Vegetable Recommendations for Succession Planting

  • Spinach in the spring, bush beans in the summer, kale in the fall.
  • Mesclun greens in the spring, cucumbers in the summer, lettuce in the fall.
  • Peas in the spring, sweet corn in the summer, collard greens in the fall.
  • Radishes in the spring, eggplant in the summer, Chinese cabbage in the fall.