Vertical Gardening

I've been waiting for my Vertical Garden for at least two years now. Right after I saw them in British Columbia on a farm tour, I just knew this would be an amazing addition to our micro farm operation. They had a small farm in which they raised many things, but they had these amazing, vertical gardens - rows and rows of them - for their organic strawberries. [photos and instructions below]

Given the extensive use of pesticides and fungicides on today's strawberries, toxins which end up being consumed by our bodies, organic strawberries are top on my list. Yes, you can buy organic strawberries. They are on many of the "Dirty Dozen" lists (see this one as a great list); produce to always look for organically produced. Locally, they cost about 6 bucks for a quart size container. OUCH! That hurts most people's pocket books, but the alternative is expense on the back end in the form of added health care costs. So, here is my long awaited answer to both organic strawberries as well as a new alternative to gardening in general. Vertical baby. Sky's the limit.

We used:

3 - T-posts (available at your local farm and garden store)
1 - hog/horse panel, cut to 8'
2 - 10' long, 3" round drain pipe (white only - NO black. it's too hot)
2 - 3" end caps
4 - screws, self tapping
Potting soil mix and compost from the farm
Hole saw, drill and 1/4" drill bit

Start by drilling your holes evenly along the top of your pipe with your hole saw. How far apart really depends on what you're going to be growing. For strawberries we are going about 11" apart.
Turn over the pipe and in between the big holes on the top, you are going to drill the smaller 1/4" holes for drainage.
Attach the end cap and with your self tapping screws, one screw on each side.
Take your pipe, with the holes on top, and fill it with whatever mix you decide to plant in.
You'll want to keep tilting up the pipe so the soil mix will all fall down to the end. Keep filling, but do not take your hands and "pack" the soil in. Once you are full to the end, attach the other end cap with the two other screws.
Now it's time to place it. Two people are better on this job.
Place your T-posts 8' apart with the 3rd in the center.
Now you can lift up your pipe and attach it however you wish. You could use zip ties, but we're using up some bailing twine. We've got lots! Ask someone from a farm, if you can have some baling twine. They'll try and make you take 12 pounds of it. :-)

We packed bareroot strawberry plants in each hole and THEN packed some extra soil around each plant. Water very well and watch them grow. And produce.

We've started with just the two pipes for the moment. We'll add 2 more on each side, giving us a total of 6, yes, SIX rows of strawberries in the same space of one row horizontally. Talk about efficient! For those of you who have slugs and bugs eating your strawberries before you get a chance, this will drastically cut down on those guys! And really, it was pretty cheap. We recycled old T-posts, the panel and twine. We bought the pipe, caps soil and plants. That's what I want for my farm. For your garden as well.

What is your most efficient garden tip or technique? I'd love some more projects to add to our list ;)

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