Vertical gardening is all the rage with urban gardeners and there's a reason: urban farmers and patio gardeners just don't have the space for long, sprawling garden beds. Urban homesteads are compact and efficient, just like our cities. And, while you might think that this would severely limit the crops available to metro farmers, with some research I'm finding that there are plenty of big-name, small-space veggies well-suited for urban, vertical farming. In fact, here are just a few that I've found so far.
Easy Peasy Vertical Farming: Peas and Edamame
Training wheels for newbie gardeners and respected producers by seasoned backyard farmers, peas are also must-have veggies for city-bound vertical farmers. Fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing and fantastically easy to grow, peas are natural climbers, and most varieties will readily monkey their way up any properly-sized trellis. Personal favorites include sugar snaps and snow peas. And, don't forget to grow edamame: A soybean by any other name would still taste as salty-sweet!
Think it's impossible to grow pumpkins vertically? Think again. Miniature types like Baby Boo and Jack Be Little make magnificent vertical garden crops. With vines growing upwards of eight feet on a solid trellis, mini pumpkin plants are a sight to behold, producing tiny, palm-sized pumpkins that dangle amid huge, canopying leaves. So, turn your vertical garden into an autumnal jungle with this cool climber and you'll get cute fruit, fun gifts and lovely landscaping.
Zucchini: Good for Both Container and Vertical Gardening
Well-suited for vertical farmers and patio gardeners, zucchini is a prolific summer squash that's fast-growing and primed for frequent harvesting (ideal qualities in a good urban crop). In fact, some varieties (like Patio Star) are even specifically bred for container cultivation. If you decide to sow zucchini in your vertical garden, be sure to sow seeds directly in the container in which they will grow (as zucchini does not transplant well) and to keep seeds moderately moist during germination (as seeds will rot if over-watered).
Must-have Vertical Farm Veggies: Cherry and Grape Tomatoes
No garden would be complete without tomatoes, and vertical gardens are no exception. In fact, there are so many options now for vertically farming tomatoes that you may have a hard time deciding which way to go. In a bag? On a trellis? Over a wall? But don't let this lack of exclusivity deter you: These small, sweet fruits are garden favorites for a reason—Garden-fresh tomatoes are delicious, grow prolifically, and they're immensely good for you.
Don't Forget Cucumbers!
Need another snacking vegetable for your vertical garden? Try growing cucumbers. While the bigger cultivars aren't very well-suited to vertical growing, smaller varieties like (Rocky and Diamant) are fantastically well-suited to trellis life. Like zucchinis, cucumbers don't transplant well, so try to sow seeds directly in the containers in which they will grow, and once they start producing, keep harvesting for a continuous crop.
Do you consider yourself a vertical farmer? What are your favorite vegetables to grow vertically?
Thanks to marta, rosym, kodakgold and RYoung for the images!