Vertical vegetable gardens are not a new idea, but they have found renewed interest in urban areas as the popularity of self-sufficiency has risen. Vertical vegetable gardening can be used as part of a larger garden plan or as an entire garden within itself. Vertical gardens can be placed in almost any location in which other gardens can grow and in some cases where conventional gardens cannot grow.
Vertical vegetable gardens are gardens that grow up from the ground instead of along the ground. This method of gardening is used mainly for vine plants that would otherwise take up wide areas of ground if grown without support. Vertical vegetable gardens are one method of intensive gardening where the most use is made of limited space; other examples of intensive gardening are raised beds, spacial gardens (separated areas) and hydroponic gardens.
Vertical gardening is used to grow vining crops such as pole beans, peas, tomatoes, squash, cucumber and small melons. The use of vertical gardening is to keep the fruit of the plant off of the ground. This type of gardening is useful in gardens with limited space or to reduce the footprint of the garden.
There are various methods used in vertical vegetable gardening to help support the plants. Examples of these include tepees, trellises, fencing, frames, poles and cages. Poles are good for tomatoes; these are simple stakes placed vertically in the ground behind the plants. Cages are placed around the plant; tomatoes can grow using cages. Tepees are set up in a pyramid shape tied at the top; these are good for beans, cucumbers and smaller vegetables. Frames are set up as A-frame ends with a cross-beam. String or twine is tied to the cross-beam and hung down for the plants to grow up; examples of this method would be beans and peas. Fences are best used for heavy crops such as gourds, zucchini and melons.
There are various benefits to vertical vegetable gardening. The reasoning behind the use is to keep the vegetables cleaner, disease free and easier to harvest because they are hanging from the plant. This also helps keep vegetables and plants from being damaged by foot traffic, rabbits, gophers and other small animals.
Proper watering and observation is essential with vertical vegetable gardens. With the plants growing upright, all of the plant is exposed to sunlight, and therefore can become burned if moisture levels are not maintained; this is especially true for upper vegetation on plants. Care should also be taken to ensure the support systems used are stable and provide the necessary support as well as planted deep enough into the ground to continue to support the plant as it grows.