How To Build a Vertical Vegetable Garden

Are you wondering how to build a vertical vegetable garden to maximize your space? Or maybe you only have a small terrace but have always dreamed of having fresh herbs and greens?

There is nothing better than picking fresh sprigs of rosemary for your pasta or harvesting crisp lettuce leaves for a summer salad.

vertical vegetable garden

Having a small space doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dream of growing food. If you have a sunny wall, or courtyard corner, or even space for a hook, then you can get creative and build a vertical vegetable garden that will have you eating fresh greens in no time.

A vertical garden is actually an easier way to grow food as they are quick and simple to maintain and it’s easier to keep pests at bay.

So, whether you are as handy as they come and know your way around a toolbox or woefully ignorant in the DIY department, this list will have something to make your vertical garden dreams come alive.

How to Build A Vertical Vegetable Garden that Suits Your Space

Before you can start building your vertical vegetable garden, there are a few things you need to consider:

How much sunlight does the area get?

vertical vegetable garden

Sunlight is probably the most crucial aspect of planning your vertical garden. 

Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sunlight so where possible, have your garden on a South-West-facing wall.

If your balcony leaves you few options in terms of direction, then choose the spot that gets the most light. 

There are plants that do well in partial shade so don’t stress, there are options that suit almost any space!

Will watering the garden cause a problem?

Your plants will need a lot of water, particularly in the hot summer months. 

Unlike a garden bed, your vertical garden won’t have a huge capacity for water run-off. If you have a small balcony, the excess water will land up all over the floor. 

This is less than ideal if it will leak into your house, or worse, drip on your neighbors below!

The added challenge of watering your vertical garden is just that, a challenge. It is definitely not a good enough reason to can your garden dreams altogether.

Simply use cardboard or an old towel around the base of the garden on watering days to soak up the excess water.

A handy watering tip is to water deeply but less frequently. This not only prevents mildew and other plant diseases but it makes it easier for the urban gardener as well.

What type of vertical option will suit the space?

Vertical gardens are technically any gardens that have plants growing upwards. That leaves a lot of room for creativity!

There are probably three main types of vertical garden options for a small space.

1. Pots with Trellising

vertical vegetable garden

This is a great option for those wanting to grow vegetables with a deeper root system rather than just salad greens.

With a deep enough pot, you can grow a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, runner beans, and squash.

You will need a pot that can hold a soil depth of at least 8 inches but closer to 12 inches is best. This will allow you to grow a good selection of vegetables.

All you need is some sturdy trellising wire, a wooden trellising frame, a wire cage, or some wooden stakes and you will have a variety of fresh vegetables right outside your door.

How you choose to trellis your vegetables will depend on the plant and the space.

You could easily trellis peas and beans with wire or even sturdy kitchen twine. Tomatoes and cucumbers would need wire mesh or a wooden trellis and squash would need a wooden trellis and have extra support with strategically placed twine.

If you are handy, you could build your trellis but they are also easily available at your local garden center.

2. Gutters or Wall-mounted Planters

vertical vegetable garden

For those that need their plants off the ground, or if you want to maximize your space, then mounting your vertical garden on the wall is the best option.

These take more DIY skills, or at least the ability to use a power drill. So, if you aren’t familiar with one then call a friend to give you a hand.

For those wanting a quick fix, you could buy a shoe organizer and hang that up. Each pocket is a space for an herb seedling or leafy green.

For those with skills, (or access to them) you can create a striking vertical vegetable garden out of gutters, crates, wooden pallets, or window boxes.

Filled with soil and plants, they will be heavy so mounting them with the correct support is vital. Using several nails in anchors will provide your vertical garden with the strength to house your plants.

Lining your planter with coir will help keep the soil in while allowing for good drainage and air circulation.

Plants like lettuce, spinach, thyme, basil, parsley, chives, oregano, beetroot, radish, bush beans, and strawberries will all grow well in a vertical vegetable garden.

3. Hanging Baskets 

vertical vegetable garden

If you want to skip the DIY fuss, then you could buy a selection of hanging baskets and place them along your balcony.

All you need to add is soil and your seedlings and you can sit back and watch the magic happen.

Along with some edible flowers like nasturtium, you could grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes, rocket, strawberries, mustard greens, and a selection of other herbs and vegetables in your hanging baskets.

Again, they will be heavy so be sure to use the correct hardware for your wall or ceiling.

What Soil Will My Vertical Garden Need?

So you have built your plants a beautiful structure, but now you need to fill it with the good stuff so they can thrive.

Good-quality potting soil with a mixture of peat, mature compost, and clean builder’s sand is an ideal mixture.

You want loamy soil that will drain well and allow space for your plant’s roots. A good potting mix will provide good air circulation, adequate minerals, and good drainage.

These are all things that your vegetables will need to thrive.

How Should I Water and Feed My Vertical Garden?

vertical vegetable garden

Large pots filled with roots might need watering once a day in summer.

Smaller pots, mounted gardens, and hanging baskets will also need to be watered frequently in summer as potting soil dries out quicker than regular soil.

Be sure to check your plants before watering. Push your finger into the soil and if the top few inches are dry then water the plant.

When watering it is important to remember to drench the plants. Deep watering encourages better and stronger root growth. Shallow, frequent watering can damage your plants.

Your vertical garden will need a good, organic, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.

Because the nutrients leach out during watering, it is important to replace them so your plants have everything they need to provide you with delicious vegetables.

Final Thoughts

Whether you have run out of space in your vegetable patch or only have a small space to grow your vegetables, a vertical garden is a brilliant solution. 

With a variety of options to suit any space, you can get creative and create a vertical vegetable garden that keeps you stocked in fresh greens and herbs.

Not only are they a convenient way to grow food, but they also brighten up a dull wall or unattractive fence.

With a few basics in mind, you can have delicious fresh food at your fingertips in a fraction of the space of a regular garden.