Why Vertical Garden?
In response to growing concerns about where and how our food is produced, urban farmers are utilizing any available surfaces to grow food for local consumption with a smaller carbon footprint, optimum nutrition, and ultimate freshness.
Vertical gardens are a popular solution in the rising urban farming movement as horizontal space can be difficult to come by in densely populated areas. Even in rural and suburban areas, restaurateurs, senior caregivers, healthcare providers, and homeowners are turning to "vertical farming" for affordable, low-maintenance food production. Chefs need not get on their hands and knees to weed, and patients or residents with limited mobility can enjoy the benefits of horticultural therapy without the need to bend or walk. For more reasons to vertical garden, see our "Why Living Walls?" page.
How Can I Ensure a Successful Edible Vertical Garden?
Plants require several things - proper orientation, lighting, water, drainage and nutrition.
In nature, nearly every edible plant grows with its roots toward the center of the earth and its stems and leaves toward the sun. When the plants are turned sideways as is the design of a number of vertical gardens, they divert energy from foliar and fruit production in effort to correct their orientation. Some systems designed in this manner are prone to soil erosion and can be difficult to water or fertilize. LiveWall offers natural orientation, with the plant roots growing downward and stems and leaves growing upward.
In most cases, typical indoor lighting is insufficient in intensity and inadequate in color spectrum to grow healthy edibles. Unfortunately, the small herb wall nested underneath your kitchen cabinets is not likely to perform well unless its facing a large, open window that gets several hours of direct sunlight daily. On the other hand, an exterior living wall planted with edibles and receiving sufficient direct sunlight can produce abundant yields, approximately 1 ounce per square foot per week of greens and herbs.
As with any plants, supplying the optimum amount of water -- not too little and definitely not too much -- is critical to success. With the LiveWall system, young edible plants will likely require just one minute per day of irrigation. As they grow larger, the green wall likely will need two minutes per day of irrigation. In extreme, prolonged heat, longer run times may be needed. Our seasonal irrigation chart recommends exact runs times based upon wall orientation and average daily temperatures. Our vertical gardens are shipped with controllers or hose timers (on smaller applications), which can be set to run on a schedule. So, you are free to go on vacation without needing to find someone to care for the plants. In volunteer-run or community gardens, this is insurance against gaps in staffing. And, for restaurants, this means one less distraction from spending time in the kitchen.
Proper drainage is perhaps the most overlooked plant need in competing vertical garden designs. Positive drainage is necessary to prevent diseases, fungal or bacterial infections, and salt build-up in living wall planters. LiveWall systems are designed to drain for healthy roots.
Vegetables, greens, and herbs require supplemental nutrition to produce foliage and fruit for consumption. LiveWall makes it easy to fertilize. On outdoor systems, a granular, controlled-release fertilizer can be applied, typical once or twice per growing season. Alternatively, a fertigation unit feeds metered amounts of liquid plant food into the water at each irrigation event.
How Long Will My Vertical Garden Last?
LiveWall and LiveScreen vertical gardens are very durable - so you can expect your system to yield a bountiful harvest for many years. The LiveWall structural components are warranted for 15 years. The WallTer® wall planters are molded from the same high impact, UV resistant polymers as car bumpers. And, the rails are composed of anodized aluminum for corrosion- and oxidation-resistant finishes proven to stand the test of time.
Most edibles by their nature are annuals and require replanting annually. So, we designed our vertical gardens to make this process easy. Removable planter inserts allow for the harvested, spent plants to be emptied and composted easily. If desired, these inserts allow for young plants to be be started in a greenhouse. When the danger of frost has passed, the established vegetables or greens are simply dropped into place in the living wall.
What Foods Can I Grow in a Vertical Garden?
Below are some of the edibles that we have grown successfully in the LiveWall system.
- Cucumbers (miniature)
- Eggplant (miniature)
- Onions (miniature)
- Peppers (compact varieties)
- Tomatoes (cascading / patio)
- Leaf Lettuce
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- Muskmelon (midget)
For Sunny Walls
(typically South or West-facing)
- Beebalm (Bergamot)
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Grass
- Wheat Grass
For Shady Walls
(typically East or North-facing)
- Lemon Balm
Medicinal / Fragrant
- Aloe Vera
- Scented Geranium
- Sweet Woodruff