I’ve wanted to try out vertical gardening for ages, but it’s somehow never quite reached the top of the pile… until now. A couple of months ago some gear (a chicken house in kit form) was delivered to our house on a pallet. The build-your-own chicken run has long since gone up to Gallifrey Permaculture, where the chickens are enjoying the extra space. The pallet, however, continued to lurk in our front courtyard, pending action.
Every time I’ve walked past it I’ve thought about how to either use it or get rid of it, but without coming to any useful conclusions. Contemplating it again last weekend, I mentioned to Himself that it was now high on the ‘let’s do something about it’ list and asked whether he had any thoughts on what the ‘something’ might be… He said, ‘Well you’ve been talking about a vertical garden… couldn’t you use the pallet as a base for one?’
Good thinking, 99! … although this did mean that ’99’ then ended up having to hunt down various tools to reinforce the pallet. That done, he attached the pallet to the wall above one of the raised garden beds with a couple of brackets and declared it ready to start its new re-purposed life.
While he was busy with all that, I scrounged around in the shed to see if I had any suitable sized pots and checked to on how much compost/soil mix we have left over from the last garden epic. The plan we’d devised was to pop the pots into the frame in three rows, about six pots per row, and to encourage the plants to grow up and over the frame. This sounded a lot simpler than the alternative, which is to cover the back, bottom and sides of the pallet with weed mat or landscaping plastic, then fill it with sand and plant up. Our pallet would need more horizontal struts for that to work, so this time I’ll stick to using the pots and see how it goes.
For this fledgling vertical garden I need to take into account that it will be in full sun most of the day. In addition to this, the pots that fit into the pallet-frame are (recycled) 10cm plastic pots; these only have a capacity of about 0.5L, so the soil will dry out fairly quickly. This means I need to select plants that aren’t going to develop huge root systems and that can cope with full sun and sporadic watering.
Growing things makes me happy and it’s a bonus if we also get to eat them (in whatever format), so I try to choose useful and/or edible plants whenever I make additions – which probably explains our mini orchard and the various vegetable/herb beds scattered around the property. For this experimental garden I’ve decided on a combination of easy-to-grow favourites: cherry tomatoes, rocket, Vietnamese mint, Thai coriander, lemon balm and parsley; perhaps even some strawberries.
I’d promised myself a visit to the Garden Centre and to the horticultural fair this week as a reward for the epic hours spent (successfully) weeding the verge garden. My mission was quite clear… but Garden Centres and Garden Shows appear to be my particular nemeses.
I ended up coming home with a Brown Turkey Fig, a beautiful orange and yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus Bali Sunset), and a Mr Lincoln hybrid rose – and only three of the 12 herbs I actually set off to get! Not quite the outcome I’d planned, but they made me smile all day – as did the prospect of a return trip for the missing plants 🙂