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At RopedOnCedar, we love experimenting in our yard to see how much food we can grow vertically. We started small at first, but our bounty grows with every season as we become better gardeners and discover new varieties to plant. It’s not only fun, healthy, and delicious, it saves us a lot of money on groceries, too. While not all vegetables are ideal for smaller areas, fortunately there are plenty of options that don’t require much space to thrive. Here is a selection of vegetables that do particularly well in our planters and living wall vertical gardening systems.
Lettuce and other greens
There’s nothing like the taste of fresh greens. Especially when you can harvest them right outside your door. Simply snip what you need for your salad and you’re ready to eat. Plus, the more you snip, the more the greens grow back. You can plant mixed greens, lettuce, arugula, spinach, or similar leafy greens according to your taste. Chard and kale can work, too, but may grow too tall if you don’t harvest and eat the leaves regularly.
Growing spuds vertically instead of in rows saves space without compromising volume. It’s possible to grow up to 100 pounds of potatoes in about four square feet. Using our large tower planters, begin by planting the seed potatoes in the bottom section. As they grow,add a box using the screws we provide, and fill the new area with soil. You can then harvest potatoes out of the bottom section first and work your way up. This is an easy and effective way to grow a lot of potatoes in a small area.
Choose varieties with shorter roots for best results in vertical gardening systems since standard length carrots tend to get stunted if the planter isn’t deep enough. There are many short root varieties to choose from including Little Finger, Scarlet Nantes, Thumbelina, Caroline, Parmex, and many others. Make sure your soil is loose to encourage good drainage. Partial sun is fine for carrots since they are a root crop.
Cucumbers are a great choice because they germinate quickly, can be trained to grow vertically, and produce high yields. The two main varieties of cucumbers are vine or bush types. Bushes are compact but produce smaller cucumbers. Vine cucumbers grow much larger but need to be trained to grow vertically. If you plant them in the top planter of our living wall vertical system, be sure to give the vines something sturdy to cling to as they climb.
Radishes are fun to plant with kids because they grow so quickly, offering more immediate satisfaction as compared to most other veggies. Some varieties are ready to pick and eat in as little as 30 days. Radish greens are also edible.
Beets are another relatively fast grower, taking about 50 – 55 days to reach maturity.This short germination time means you can plant an early crop that produces in late spring, and then replant a summer crop in the same planter.Plus, beets aregreat for planters because they produce well even when densely planted. In addition to the ultra-nutritious roots, the greens are also edible and make a fine addition to salads (beets are in the chard family).
Strawberries are technically a fruit, but they deserve mention here because they do so well in vertical growing systems. Since strawberries are compact they don’t require deep soil. The hardiest are the June-bearing strawberries. Make sure the plantsget a steady dose of sun each day, and don’t let them dry out. Plus, they like to spread out, so you only need two or three plants per planter to get a sizable, tasty crop.