Vertical Veg: The Art of Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces



My friend Susan shared an intriguing link to a site called Vertical Veg. It’s all about growing food in containers and tiny spaces.

The site and accompanying blog is chock full of ideas for growing your own vegetables when space is at a premium. Mark Ridsdill Smith founded Vertical Veg because “I love growing food, but also because it ties in with my dream of cities where people live in closer connection with the seasons, nature and their food.”

For years my own garden was also a series of pots, hanging baskets, and containers as I moved from rental to rental.  I grew flowers and herbs, but never vegetables.  Clearly I missed out.

If you’re yearning to grow your own food but live in small or temporary quarters, I suggest you check out Mark’s site.  It’s fun and inspiring exploring what’s possible.

Why grow vertical from Vertical Veg:

  • You’ll have fresher, healthier food quite literally on your doorstep.
  • You’ll save money.
  • You’ll bring greenery, flowers and wild life to your urban (concrete?) neighbourhood.
  • You’ll find a hobby that many find rewarding, relaxing and creative – and that can be good for both mental and physical health.
  • If you’re into sustainability stuff, you’ll find lots of opportunities for recycling (making your own containers, converting waste food into worm compost), reducing your waste food by only picking what you need, and cutting your carbon footprint.
  • If you’re into food, you’ll love the super fresh veg, the abundance of herbs, and the opportunity to grow crops unavailable (or expensive) in the shops.
  • And last but not least, you’ll meet new neighbours – food growing is a shared language with wide appeal across generations and cultures.

It’s hard to argue with that!

Check out Vertical Veg and let me know what you think.

Blooming Thursday: Pelargonium Stunner

Pelargonium 'Old Bury Duet'

Pelargonium ‘Old Bury Duet’

I fell in love with this Pelargonium on my last trip through the nursery. I was racing to the front of the store with my 4th of July annuals and it stopped me in my tracks. This ‘Old Bury Duet’ was nestled on a table with equally gorgeous coleus which seem to grow well on our deck.

Of course the big question is “where will I plant it?” The snapdragons in the planter at home were healthy, but the companion Lobelia looked tired.  I never have much luck with Lobelia.  Upon further reading, I’ve learned it prefers cool weather.  Once our temps rise, the plants quickly dry out.  So…

Into the cart they went.

Once home, I transplanted two of the snapdragons into a pot with the roses where they get more sun, and moved the rest to another flowering pot out back.  The Lobelia moved to a cooler spot, but they sadly are no more.

Now my trio of front door planters include the new  Coleus ‘Inky Fingers’ and the Pelargonium ‘Old Bury Duet,’ along with the existing coleus and the trailing flowers.

What’s blooming on your Thursday?

Duet of Color

Duet of Color

Variegated Leaves

Variegated Leaves

Torch Like Beauty

Torch Like Beauty

Friend or Foe?  Do you know?

Friend or Foe? Do you know?

Tweet-tweet: Self Watering Gadgets

Watering Hole

Unless you live in Kauai, Hamburg or Seattle, you probably have to water your outdoor potted plants.  This holds true for indoor plants that don’t get the benefit of seasonal rain.  It’s a fine line between over-watering which can drown the roots, or under-watering which can quickly kill a summer annual.  The mix of shallow roots and rising temperatures dry out plants.  Mulching helps, but plants still need a regular drink of water.  Further, seeing water pour out of the bottom of the pot on to the deck or walkway is a water-conservation no-no.  What to do?

We’ve been experimenting with various self-watering devices, a misnomer since you still have to fill the reservoir with water.  Our first self watering gadget was a glass globe about the size of a baseball.  It came with a porous clay reservoir that you staked into the soil.  After filling the glass globe with water, you quickly upended it and inserted it into the reservoir. They looked pretty, but presented two problems.  The opening was narrow and hard to fill from a watering can.  When I carried them to and from the sink, I worried I would drop them.  Once full, you couldn’t set them down.

Next, my husband came up with the idea of using plastic apple juice containers, the ones that are about the size of a large apple.  The opening was larger and they had a flat bottom.  They worked, but they didn’t look nice after several weeks in the sun.  When empty, they were light enough to be knocked out of the container by a squirrel…or a gardener… and often ended up under the shrubs.

Pictured below are our current watering stakes.  The ceramic bird has a built-in reservoir in the back made of clay but molded into one piece.  The stake remains in the soil and you add water from the top.  Isn’t it cute?  The verdict is out at this point.  I like the ease of use and the little pop of color but I’m not convinced that one per pot is enough.

The baby bird or BORDY, is also molded in one piece but you add water through the mouth.  For some reason it reminds me of a dolphin more than a bird.  What do you think?

Do you have a favorite self-watering gadget?  Please share in  the comments, below.


Container Garden Update: Flowering Pots

Last call for votes

Thank you so much for casting your vote yesterday.  I have a few responses still trickling in so I’ll give it one more day before sharing the results.  If you would like to weigh in, I’m asking readers to help me select one of three photos; what you think best reflects Gardening Nirvana.  I’ll use the most popular photo on my site.  Please leave your vote in the comments section hereThank you!

Container Garden Update

I checked on all my container plants this morning.  We’re expecting temps in the high-nineties today, so the pots are more likely to dry out.  A few of the containers are on a drip system, but most I still water by hand.  It’s a nice way to stay connected.

We have a planter out front with our address etched into the ceramic, a gift from my friend, Marcia.  It’s been home to a pink geranium for several years, but the plant is looking tired and cramped.  I’ll need to find a bigger pot, and a plant to replace it. Oh darn…a trip to the nursery ;-).

See how pretty it looked in April? Not any more.

The plants on deck are looking healthy.  The coleus had a growth spurt, and the trailing flowers surrounding it should have enough weight to start cascading down the side of the pot.


Yellow Snapdragons grow one pot over, but they may not be getting enough sun.  Only one side of the plant is flowering.  They look healthy enough.  I’ll keep an eye on things.

Yellow Snapdragons Peak Over the Back of the Chair

The miniature yellow rose survived the transplant and is recovering from dusty mold.  The pot is finally full enough to keep the squirrels from digging.  Well, mostly.

12-Year-Old Miniature Roses

We have three, over-sized pots grouped together on our back steps.  The pink hydrangea has grown quite tall, no doubt grateful for the extra room in the planter.  I had a pair of fuchsias in there for a few years, but they developed some sort of blight and I couldn’t get them to come back.

Three Flowering Pots: Hydrangea, Sweet Onions, Lambs Ear

Today’s high temps will be good for the tomatoes, berries and pumpkins. Summer solstice is almost upon us!

What’s growing in your planting pots these days?

New Page: Container Garden Inspiration

Last Summer's Patio Garden

I added a new page to my blog today: Container Garden Inspiration

If you’re short on space or living a more transitory lifestyle in a dorm or a short-term rental, container gardening might be for you. Container gardens are great for:

  • Kitchen herb gardens
  • Patio color
  • Deck top privacy screens
  • Fairy gardens
  • Your office

If you have a favorite container garden to share, please let me know in the comments section below.