Page 46

COUNTRY GARDENING Grow more in less space with vertical gardening By Trisha Gedon Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service lush landscape full of colorful flowers and tasty fruits and vegetables is every gardener’s dream. Many people may envision a vast space covering the landscape. However, for those gardeners thinking outside of the traditional gardening box and wanting to do something a little different, or for those who may be pressed for a lot of outdoor space, they may consider vertical gardening. Growing plants vertically really expands the possibilities for garden spaces, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist. “Vertical gardening is a great way to take advantage of empty vertical space such as walls or fences,” Hillock said. “They can be free standing, as well. It’s also a unique way to add visual interest to your space. Vertical gardening has potential benefits for senior citizens, energy savings and local water systems. “In addition, those who may live in apartments with only a balcony for outside space or in a home with limited yard space, can enjoy the benefits of vertical gardening.”

46 — Oklahoma Country

Vertical gardens often are referred to as green walls, but they differ from green facades such as ivy walls. When considering a support surface for a vertical garden, think about what you want to grow, whether it be flowers, vegetables or a combination of both. Then, let your imagination go wild. Obvious choices include fences, trellises, pergolas, posts, poles with strings or nets, trees or cages, but also consider things such as old ladders, bicycles, old wagon wheels, wooden pallets or containers attached to an existing fence. An inexpensive plastic shoe storage system hung on the fence or wall with the pockets full of soil is a great way to vertically grow herbs. Hillock said choosing the right plants for a vertical garden is essential. While there are many plants that can be trained to grow vertically, not every plant is a good choice. “Whenever a plant can grow and thrive by crawling up or hanging down, it’s a good choice,” he said. “Pole beans, some peas, tomatoes and most varieties of cucumbers can easily be grown vertically with the necessary support. Melons,

gourds, squashes and pumpkins like upward growth, but remember, some will need more support than others due to the weight of the fruit or vegetable.” One other thing gardeners need to take into account when gardening vertically is some plants entwine themselves onto the support, while others will need to be tied. Plants grown in a vertical garden are more exposed to the sun and air, so they are going to dry out faster. Frequent watering is essential. In some cases, drip and micro irrigation alternatives can be combined very effectively to ensure adequate moisture. Also, if combining vertical gardening with traditional gardening, make sure to position the vertical structure so that it does not shade sun-loving plants. It is a good idea to plant shade-loving plants near your vertical structures. If the area in which a vertical garden is planted is prone to wind, consider wind break protection and sturdier supports. Just as with traditional gardening, vertical gardening containers should drain well to encourage good root system development and help avoid root rot. Growing vegetables vertically has the

Oklahoma Country – Spring 2018  

Oklahoma Country is the official magazine of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Our spring issue highlights the importance of the state agriculture sales...

Oklahoma Country – Spring 2018  

Oklahoma Country is the official magazine of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Our spring issue highlights the importance of the state agriculture sales...