In March, I wrote about gardening to stimulate the senses. In that article I mentioned using vertical gardening techniques so I can better smell my herbs. That small blurb inspired me to do more vertical gardening this year.
Vertical gardening, in my yard, creates another way to interact with my plants. It also creates challenges in care and maintenance. I’m going to share with you my four vertical gardening attempts this year and rate how well I think they worked.
My Tomato Wall project began at the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine. If you remember at that time, there was much uncertainty on food access and toilet paper. I planted 6 different types of indeterminate tomatoes into the buckets. I also tucked zucchini seeds between the buckets. I fall into the camp of suckering tomatoes and trained them to go up the fencing. Even though in buckets, watering wasn’t an issue and I did not experience any blossom end rot or wilting.
Results: I had easy access to the tomatoes until the zucchini plants got too big. At that point, the zuke plants were trampled as I moved through the area. I also realized this spot did not get as much light as I thought it did- working from home gave me the chance to fully experience the amount of sun this spot receives through the day. I give myself a C- grade on this.
My dad welded together this arbor out of 2 inch pipe and cow panels. It serves as a transition from my patio into my back yard. I use salt block holders from the local farm store to hold containers. This year, I planted lantana and a few annual vines. At the base I have a large clay pot that includes an extra tomato and other random plants.
Result: I enjoyed having the stacks of color up the side and have enjoyed the butterflies and bees visiting the plants. My biggest complaint is the unsightly (ugly!) pots at eye level. Next year, I want to hide them or upgrade to something prettier. Overall, I give this a solid B.
My potting shed is another Dad-creation. He welded the potting-bench portion for me a few years ago, and over the summer it got an expansion for storage. It is a heavy duty potting shed! It is also very visible from my patio. I repurposed baskets and mounted to the side. It was a mix of bright sun and dark shade, which complicated my choice in plants- sweet potato vine, angle wing begonia, impatiens, and fuchsia did best!
Result: I have very much enjoyed this wall of plants! It fills a color void in my garden and has done a good job at attracting hummingbirds! Maintaining it was more complicated than I imagined. The baskets required near daily watering, which was difficult due to the placement of the hose and the plants blocking easy access. Next year, I’m going to rearrange the baskets and use fewer plants per basket to hopefully reduce some of the maintenance needs. But, overall, I give this effort a B+.
I acquired a wrought iron shelf when my neighbors downsized. This year, I gave it a fresh coat of paint and moved it to a prominent spot on my patio. I picked up few black-plastic window boxes and choose a light-green plant theme. I also have a collection of outdoor decorations that fill in spots.
Results: I depend on my annuals and containers for my artistic expression each season. This particular effort was very rewarding and I’m looking forward to variations on it next year. That said, the window boxes I purchased likely got too hot and didn’t promote the most vigorous growth for the plants. I’ll have to give this thought next year and reconsider the pots or the plant choices. I give myself an A-.
COVID-19 has us all going up the wall. These four projects were the diversionary activities I needed to take my mind off things during this global pandemic. Even though I knit pick and give myself various grades for each project, overall I give myself an A+ in channeling my stress into something constructive.