Planting an Organic Garden? Go Vertical. Plant Recommendations & Pests
Why a Vertical Garden?
After many attempts at growing a garden inground and having animals (chipmunks and ground hogs) eat or even worse take bites out of the vegetables, we decided to grow the garden up and off the ground.
Since we live in New England, there is an abbreviated growing season compared to other regions in the country.
An Organic Garden
What Makes the Garden Organic?
Basically, the garden is organic because there aren't any pesticides used and the fertilizer is natural.
In New England, allow yourself 120 days for the planting and growing season.
If you plant in June, you will have your garden until September. Therefore, you can gauge when you will have productive vegetables.
Where to Begin?
Build the Platforms
Begin by constructing the poles and boxes. The poles are 2" X 6" and should be secured into the ground. They are usually sold at home stores in 8' or 10' sizes.
On top of the poles, center a block of wood and then place the box on the top. Secure in the center with nails. The platform beneath the box provides balance so the soil and plants will be sturdy.
What is the Best Soil Mixture?
We mixed naturally decomposed leaves and grass clippings with a 40 lb bag of Humus & Manure (shown in photo) along with a 40 lb bag of Topsoil (photo below).
The humus helps with water retention, the manure is a natural fertilizer that adds nutrients, and the topsoil (also called loam) is used to dress the soil.
Add To Soil
Boxes With Soil
Add Soil to Boxes
Add the assorted soils mentioned to the boxes. Mounds can be created to accommodate tomatoes or any other vegetables that may have a deeper root system and require more soil.
Do be mindful of the weight of the soil and plants in the boxes. Don't overload either.
When in doubt, use multiple boxes. Plant seeds as normal and to water the plants, mist them instead of using an intense stream of water from the hose.
What Vegetables to Grow?
When planting a vertical garden, you will catch a lot of sunlight and so you will have a thriving garden.
The following vegetables grow well in a vertical organic garden: eggplant, zucchini, beans, peas, squash, tomatoes.
We decided to plant the tomatoes in a plastic pot and placed it in the box (as seen in photo).
Tomato Horn Worms
Garden Pests to Expect
Even though the garden is vertical and small rodents and pests can't reach the vegetables, there is one pest that somehow finds it's way upward - the dreaded Tomato Horn Worm.
This is the larvae of the Hawk Moth and it does a lot of damage to the tomatoes as seen in photo.
We cut these ugly worms in pieces and as they were left outside, we saw the birds eat them!
The Sweet Rewards of Planting
Despite the amount of work it takes to set up the boxes, soil and planting, there are sweet rewards. You will enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the fruit of your labor - be it zucchini, tomatoes, or eggplants.
No products or services were given in order to write this article.
All photos in this article were taken by the author, Camille Gizzarelli.
After a long winter it's good for your mind and soul to build something that takes form and becomes an environment that can be very rewarding.
The yellow squash flowers and the purple eggplant flowers offer much enjoyment and the vegetables can be picked fresh for your table.