The more we read about GMO, the scarier it gets. Studies show that nearly 90% of the food on our plates is now genetically modified; splicing in genes from other plants and animals so as to achieve desirable characteristics such as disease-resistance, longer shelf life and lower costs. But there are reports that there has been very little testing on these ‘Frankenfoods’. GMO Foods are being linked with allergies and with resistance to antibiotics.

All this makes us want to ditch the genetically-modified, artificially-ripened fruits and vegetables in the supermarket’s produce aisle and buy fresh and sustainable foods from your local Farmers’ Market. But the produce there is expensive, offers a narrower choice and frankly, isn’t always open when you want to shop. It’s almost enough to make you want to chuck it all, buy yourself a little patch of land and farm your own food. And then you remember loans and bills, friends and family, and everything that keeps you in the city. But that dream of farming your own food remains….. Is it even a practical dream to hold onto?

It’s actually not such a crazy dream to farm your own organic herbs and vegetables, right here in the city, even when you don’t have a patch of land to farm. Estimates say there are over 18,000 Community Garden Projects underway across the United States and Canada, but there may not be one close to you, and most have waiting lists. But is that your only option? Not in the least! Thanks to the intriguing trend of Vertical Gardening, all you really need is a wall and a bit of determination.

Vertical Gardening: Our New Hero

We have all seen those amazing Living Walls or Green Walls, both indoors and out, which seem absolutely carpeted with greenery. Landscape designers and interior decorators love them, but there’s more to them than just curb appeal! They make the best possible use of a tiny space, and you can get them to work for you by planting your own vegetables.

Vertical gardens may be relatively new phenomena, but when used to grow food, it is the most evolved form of the concept of Urban Gardening, which has been around since the First World War.

Since they don’t need tilling or digging, vertical gardens require much less of your time. You could even use a soilless growing medium, which means barely any weeds. Furthermore, a vertical garden demands far less water, and wastewater is easily collected and recycled. And Vertical Gardening makes gardening a possibility for the aged and for people with special needs who can’t spend that much time hunched over a flowerbed, .

A sunny, outdoor space is always ideal, but even an indoor wall could be used if you rig up the growing lights it needs. A vertical garden is also a great insulator for exterior walls, so that means that your interior temperature is less affected by the weather. What that translates to is keeping your heating and air conditioning bills much lower! Add to that the money you’ve saving on your grocery bills, and you can see how a vertical garden makes excellent financial sense.

Vertical vegetable & Herb garden

A vertical vegetable garden with tomatoes, herbs and salad leaves

Source: goodshomedesign.com

So What Can I Realistically Grow in My Vertical Food Garden?

Naturally, not all plants thrive in a vertical garden. Choose plants that grow best in the sun/shade, humidity, wind, and cold conditions of the wall you’ve chosen. Most plants that thrive in container gardens adapt reasonably well to vertical gardening. Here is a short list of largely-successful vertical garden plants to get you started.

Vines such as pole beans, peas, asparagus, cucumber, malabar spinach, watermelons, pumpkins, butternut squash and sweet potato can be trained on trellises and will do quite well.  Vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, cfhili peppers, potatoes, radish, carrots, beets, turnip, garlic, shallots, onions and leeks  are robust plants for Vertical Gardens. Greens like loose-leaf lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and red amaranth, and herbs like Basil, Chive, Oregano, Sage, Mint, Parsley and Cilantro are delicate, so harvesting them fresh means you get the freshest, most flavourful and nourishing meal out of them.

 

Microgreens and Baby Greens are nutrient powerhouses that make stunning and delicious garnishes. They are essentially the seedlings of various herbs or vegetables and the freshest way to get these, is of course from your own vertical kitchen garden. Almost any sapling is edible, but some are more popular microgreens than others, including Red amaranth, Cabbage, Broccoli, Sunflower, Beet, Daikon radish, Tatsoi, Basil, Mustards and Kohlrabi.

As you can see, vertical gardens are a very practical means to grow your own fresh and healthy vegetables, greens and herbs. This not only cuts down your grocery bills, but also helps you ensure the food you eat is freshly harvested, organically grown and free from GMOs. It makes the Urban Farming of yesteryear a possibility, even in our cramped homes and offices. All it takes is a bit of time, money, effort, creativity and research and you could be well on your way to making that wall into your vegetable garden.


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