It’s Time for Your Vegetables to Grow UP


When Less is Actually More

It’s obvious that growing vegetables up instead of out saves space, which opens gardening doors for almost everybody. Lack of space is certainly a great reason to start thinking vertically and that may be the road that led you to consider growing things vertically.

However, a small space is only one reason on a long list of great reasons to grow vertically. Even if you have plenty of gardening room, you may want to add vertical components in order to take advantage of the other compelling reasons to grow up.

Less Time and Work

This reason alone is enough to keep my interest. Between raising kids, working, keeping house and garden, cooking meals, livestock care, and volunteering, I lead a very full life. My guess is that you do, too! Gardening and growing fresh food is something that I strongly believe in and have no intentions of cutting out.

The question is, how many things can I grow? Most of us keep up a busy daily pace just to stay afloat, so it may feel like one potted pepper plant is all you can manage. This is the beauty of growing vertically[md]the time commitment is very little compared to what’s considered a horizontal garden bed. Of course, how much time depends on how many vertical gardens you’re tending.

I should point out that even if you choose to have a large garden of vertical veggies, you’ll still get twice as much done for your vertical plants as you would their horizontally grown counterparts. This is because there’s very little soil for you to deal with, especially if your veggies are in a container.

Less soil means less time watering for those of you who are hand-watering. Pruning plants such as berry canes, tomato plants, or fruit trees is easier. And harvesting? Harvesting is a quick endeavor when fruit is at eye level and can be easily seen and picked.

In short, your back and knees will thank you for adopting an upward gardening plan! Each of these factors also make vertical gardening the perfect method for those with physical limitations, as well. Gardeners in wheelchairs or with other physical challenges find that growing veggies up makes their hobby much easier[md]or perhaps even possible.

Less Money

Personally, this is a deal-maker for me. It’s a tough economy, right? If you intend to create raised garden beds, growing plants vertically will save you money on purchasing soil because you won’t need to build large rectangular beds. In fact, you’ll be able to get away with obtaining just enough soil for the roots of the plants. When you garden with large horizontal gardens, you’re providing fresh soil for the vines that simply rest on the soil as they sprawl; soil that’s basically wasted.

The same principle applies to compost. Compost is the best thing you can do for your garden and whether you have your own compost piles going or plan to purchase this important amendment. It’ll go a lot farther when you’re adding it only to the area that really needs it — the plant roots. I believe that no single thing benefits plants more than rich, crumbly, nutritional compost.

The building materials used for the upright climbing structures may be the area where most of your dollars go. However, this isn’t necessarily so. With a little imagination you can recycle and upcycle discarded items for the vertical garden that otherwise have been discarded.

Fewer Weeds, Pests, and Diseases

One of the best vertical gardening perks is that you’ll have very few weeds sprouting up. Even when they do rear their ugly heads, they can all be tugged out in minutes. On the other hand, with horizontal beds you’re also weeding all of the bare soil areas in-between the plants so that they don’t take over the garden as they mature. Vertical gardening has you working with much less soil surface and many times you’re starting with bagged soils that are weed-free from the outset.

Plants grown vertically enjoy exceptional air circulation — much more than most of their ground-dwelling counterparts. More air circulation around plant foliage means less trouble with pests and disease, which means a stronger plant and that will produce more unblemished fruit. And much, much less food waste due to rotting.

When plants are grown horizontally, their leaves often cover the soil leaving it damp and warm which can expose plants to soil-borne diseases. By allowing plants to grow up instead of out, you also limit their physical contact to neighboring plants. This is a major plus as plant diseases are readily transmitted through physical foliage contact. Crops grown on a support also have much fewer problems with rot, and therefore, waste.

More Produce

If the above advantages aren’t enough to have you scrambling for fencing and trellises, this one just might push you over the edge: a bigger bounty. That’s right, gardening vertically can actually increase your vegetable production. This increase in production is due to the plants and veggies receiving better air circulation and sunlight, which help maintain healthy foliage. Healthy plants with fewer pests and disease offer bigger yields, yet in a smaller space.

Ripe veggies that are grown vertically also have a much better chance of being spotted by the gardener. There are a couple of reasons that this is important. One is that you won’t pass up a perfectly ripe fruit that’s ready for the kitchen. But the other reason it’s important to keep ripe fruit picked from the vine is that for many plants an overripe fruit is a signal to halt production.

Cucumbers, for example, will produce like mad until one or two of the fruits ends up left on the vine and becomes overripe. At that point, as far as the plant is concerned, it has met its goal. It has now produced some fruit that contains mature seeds that will be part of the next generation of cucumbers. Thus, production comes to a full stop.

When vegetables are harvested ready for the kitchen (but not fully mature), the plant keeps trying by maintaining vegetable production.

Interested in growing YOUR vegetables vertically? Then you have to check out this book!


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Melissa has a background in marketing, brand management, graphic design and photography. She left corporate America to pursue her dream of living a simpler life. Simpler doesn’t always mean easier but she enjoys every minute on her small homestead. She loves to cook, practice herbalism and gardening. Her passion is spreading the word about sustainable living and sharing her love of herbalism and living from scratch.

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