In the Pacific Northwest where the growing season is shorter, any extension can be a help. Stephen Hindrichs of Sooke on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is experimenting with using his home garden space as fully as possible — especially vertically.
We videoed this low-cost vertical planter he used to grow strawberries (top photo). Dirt is packed into a wood pallet. He stapled garden fabric to keep soil from falling out. The strawberries are planted into little slits in the cloth. He props the pallet vertically against a fence (which holds warmth which the plants like). Stephen says he waters by hand or with a soaker hose woven through the pallet soil. Does it work? — Stephen got oodles of strawberries last season!
He showed us a Tower Garden he purchased. It’s an aeroponic system which pumps nutrient-laden water through the tower. Air + nutrients + water result in higher yields and bigger plants than when planted in soil. Summer squash, tomatoes, basil, peppers did beautifully last summer. (See photo from summer – you can barely see the tower for the leaves!)
Now Stephen is working on a DIY soil-based version of a Garden Tower using a large wood barrel. He’ll put a porous tube in the center and surround it with soil. Through the season he’ll fill the center with compost and worms, who will help spread the nutrients out to the periphery. We’ll check in next summer to see how well it works!
Watch Vertical Gardening for Small Spaces (#303).