Anyone who has ever planted a traditional garden can attest to the laborious work that often comes with growing your own food. And while raised beds (like this one from Home Depot) can eliminate some of the bending involved, it still requires a significant amount of horizontal space to build the beds. The one factor that isn't limited—regardless of whether you have a small deck, patio, balcony, or a much larger plot—is the ever-present vertical space.
Trellises and cages have allowed gardeners to utilize the vertical plane to increase productivity of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and other vining plants. Plants like herbs, leafy greens, and other veggies grow close to the ground and can often take up a substantial amount of area.
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An option that has become increasingly popular in recent years is tower gardens (also called garden towers). Here's why you should think about going vertical.
Why You Should Grow Plants Vertically
1. You’re spending more time at home.
If you're like the rest of us during the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, you're likely spending more time at home. In fact, there's actually been a massive backyard gardening boom due to COVID-19. You're going to be at home more, so why not take up a productive (and fun) hobby?
2. Growing vertically takes up less space.
A garden tower can utilize the same amount of ground space as a standard container garden that might only contain one plant. Utilizing the vertical space can allow one to grow dozens of plants in one container.
3. Garden-grown produce tastes much better than store-bought produce.
Store-bought produce is often harvested weeks ahead of when you would likely see it in a grocery store. Walking outside and harvesting your own produce allows you to experience "farm-to-table" meals—without leaving the house.
4. It can save money.
Growing your own garden can reduce your dependency on availability of items at the grocery store or farmer's market. Bonus: you won't have to brave the grocery store with a mask on to get your cukes or basil!
5. Growing your own food can be beneficial.
Aside from the obvious health perks of eating fresh vegetables from your own garden, you can also get in a little exercise and a healthy dose of vitamin D. Not to mention, gardening can reduce your risk of dementia, depression, and more!
How to Plant a Vertical Garden Tower
Do your research
Find out what plants will grow best in a smaller space, plus what the watering needs will be for your plants of choice (and what kind of sunlight your space can provide). While you can certainly start your plants from seed, these edible plants can be shipped directly to your home:
- Tomatoes ($8 per package; homedepot.com)
- Elephant garlic bulbs ($10 per package; homedepot.com)
- Green bell peppers ($8 per package; homedepot.com)
- Rhubarb (three plants for $17; homedepot.com)
- Purple asparagus (10 for $16; homedepot.com)
Find your tower garden
There are a multitude of options that, dare we say it, are springing up in the marketplace. Once you have decided on the spot to place your tower, consider the footprint of the planter and then begin your search.
While there are numerous options on the market, we especially love these four-tier and five-tier models from Wayfair. These options will allow for growing up to 30 plants at one time!
To buy: 5-Tier Plastic Vertical Planter, $172.99; wayfair.com
Growing tips for your tower garden
Purchase a high-quality potting mix, as it typically contains products that will prevent compacting and keep the soil light and airy. Most potting mixes also contain fertilizer, but feeding your vertical garden about once a month during the growing season will ensure all plants are receiving the nutrients needed to reach their full potential.
Watering depends on the location of your tower and whether it will have access to rain. In short, to prevent your garden tower from drying out, water as needed. To tell if your soil needs water, stick one of your fingers into the soil to check the moisture level (it should feel damp, but not soaking wet, for the first inch or so).
Prepare for the harvest
Once you have procured and planted your tower, it's time to prepare for a bountiful harvest. With up to thirty plants growing at one time, it's possible to stagger plants to ensure a continuous flow of fresh vegetables all summer long.
Once you grow your veggies, it's time to eat them! Subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today and start receiving customizable meal plans
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