High rise gardening is the same as gardening anywhere, in that you need to provide your plants with light, water and nutrients for them to grow. If you use your balcony, patio or roof to grow herbs, fruits and vegetables you will have a supply of delicious edibles ready to eat at your convenience.
Urban farms rely on containers and planters of various shapes, widths and heights. For the most part, you will want to choose containers that are lighter in weight. Planters can become very heavy with soil, water and the plants. Lightweight planters make it easier for you to move the plants, either indoors to protect them from a storm or to another spot on the balcony to capture more sun throughout the day.
Use substitutes for heavy soil, such as perlite, vermiculite and peat moss to fill planters. In addition to being lightweight, these substances aid plants with retaining water and absorbing nutrients.
Trellises form the backbone of many urban farms. Not only will you provide support for your plants, you will give your neighbors and yourself some privacy. Use the trellis in conjunction with your planters. Examples of good climbing plants are:
- Grape vines: Vigorous growers, but may take a couple of seasons of pruning to yield grapes.
- Cucumbers: Easy to grow from seed. Tie the stems to the lattice to compensate for the weight of the cucumbers as they develop.
- Tomatoes: Very popular plant. Grows well in large containers with good soil.
- Melons: Training your melons to grow vertically keeps them off the ground and reduces unsightly damage.
- Scarlet runner beans: Prolific bean production and attractive red flowers.
While climbing plants and vines are natural candidates for vertical gardening, you can buy or build simple structures to grow many other plants vertically. All you need is something to give you height, such as walls, trellises or poles. Secure the pots, containers or pockets of your choice to the upright structures. Fill with potting soil. If your interior living space has an industrial feel, carry that same sensibility over to your outside space. Construct your trellis or plant holder with copper plumbing pipes. Use it with climbing plants or with smaller plants in containers.
Plants to consider for your containers include:
- Herbs: Chives, Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano, Fennel, Thyme
- Greens: Spinach, Mesclun lettuce, Kale
- Edible flowers: Nasturtium, Squash blossoms, Bee balm
Let your creativity take hold when choosing containers for your plants. For example, for a whimsical look, use colorful rubber rain boots. Insert holes through the soles of the boots for drainage. Tap holes two or three holes through one side. Drill holes through the lattice of your trellis. Attach the boots to the trellis using screws and nuts.
High rise gardening offers some advantages over gardening in the ground. You do not have to compete with tree roots, settle for poor quality native soil or worry about destructive moles. You can use your garden to provide you with an abundant harvest, display attractive foliage or attract birds and butterflies with flowers.