The fence you can eat

Vertical vegetable garden

An Open Living Company vertical vegetable garden

Visiting Ham House and its Garden of Reason installation at the weekend, we were struck by their café’s promotional claim that their vegetables travel “zero food miles” from ground to plate.

Since very few of us have the luxury of their acres of space, one of the many things we’ve been thinking about recently is how can you install a viable vegetable plot in a small urban garden.

Waiting lists for allotments are currently as long as England fans’ faces and you don’t necessarily want the veg patch to dominate whatever space you have. You may want to reduce your supermarket bills but you also don’t want to grow so much that a good portion goes to waste, making the whole idea pretty pointless – so what do you do?

The answer is likely to be staring you in the face.  Create a wall farm.  A fence you can eat. A vertical vegetable garden, if you like.

Fabulous tasting food you have grown yourself, no back breaking work, no bending down and you still keep all the space in the garden…what’s not to love?!

And it’s so simple.  We’ve had a go at designing one that is a racked-out fence, angled to maximise light and water, and using ordinary household guttering to create the growing space. It doesn’t have to be guttering, although we think it looks quite stylish and it has the benefit of being easily detachable. You can also use different sizes to suit the various plants.

If you’ve got children, or are looking for something similar for a school, it’s easy to make this in small sections so that each child can plant their own plants and watch them individually grow.

The best position would be to choose the wall that gets the greatest sunlight, but you can also choose plants that fit the orientation you have.  Lettuces, cabbages and greens will cope with limited sunlight while tomatoes, peppers, beans, carrots and radishes will thrive in bright sunlight.

Filled with peat moss and a potting mix, you will need to water your vertical veg wall well – but if that’s too much work, you could make life even easier by hiding an irrigation system behind the guttering, running from a pump in a nearby butt.

So, with an ugly fence now a fabulous and cost effective vegetable market, you can go further and complement the look with peppers or cherry tomatoes trailing from hanging baskets. Simples.

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