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Vertical gardening ideas for south side of house  RSS feed

 
              
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I was thinking this morning about this huge piece of wall I have on the south side of my cabin.  It gets great sun all day long, maybe a little shade from the tops of the taller trees every once in a while, and is just BIG (10 feet tall, 40 feet wide, 400 square feet that I could possibly use!).  I also have the option of an "automatic" water system.  My well filters purge every night and currently the water isn't used.  I could rig some sort of drip irrigation system that would connect to the drain pipe and every morning the plants would get a nice drink.

Some possible downsides:  It's a cement block wall, so I'm not sure about actually attaching anything directly to it.  Also, this side of the cabin has no gutters, so I would have to add them otherwise a good downpour might swamp anything. 

I'm thinking I may get some of those hanging tomato pots.  Anyone ever used these?  Seems like it would be a very easy first attempt at this. 

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=2101.0 This posting gave me some more ideas, cool use of gutters!

Any other thoughts? 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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A raised bed plus a trellis leaning against the wall might be a very good start, if you choose plants that climb well enough. You can probably design a raised bed that sits above any standing storm water, and maybe holds it in a way that doesn't harm the cabin.

"Cabin" suggests rural, so you might have options that the urban audience of that link would not. I'm imagining a bed that reaches up to about shoulder height, with a good moisture barrier isolating it from the wall and a fairly steep slope that allows four vertical feet of short plants below, and supports six feet of trellis above. It could be un-supported earth in the style of sepp holzer, or perhaps a wall with openings so that the whole system works like a giant strawberry pot. There are lots of variations that are possible to give both the plants and the cabin a little more protection from the elements, depending on what your climate is like.

Most of the tomato varieties I would want to grow prefer a lot more soil than a practical container would offer.

A system that places plants 10 feet up might need some forethought re: harvesting. A trellis that can be lowered in a controlled way, or safe places for a ladder, are two ideas off the top of my head.

Concrete is pretty reflective, so a sparse spacing might not waste much light. Whitewashing the wall might boost yield a little.

That daily flow of water is a great opportunity! I can imagine lots of elaborate ways to use that, but I bet a simple way will be the best.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Jason,
    I'm working on something like right now, but it's East facing. Had an area next to the goat barn that was just a mess after every rain - also flooding the driveway so when given a chance at some cement blocks did something.
      The dirt on the East side had built up due to erosion from a neighbor's place( wind loves to dump it here) so used that to build terraces. Have terraces almost done, just need to finish the North side retaining wall. Not so much to keep the dirt in, but to keep in wind from scouring the mulches out.
      This spot also works well for me as when cleaning the water tanks. Use a bucket to clean them out and pour on something local. The terraces are. Need to clean the tanks every two to three days from wind dumped dirt or algae bloom so the water gets put to good use.
    Also setting up gutters for the barn and to start three barrels set on dry wells. All barrels have an overflow are are accessible from the top and are set on each terrace's end-one per terrace. The over flow leads into the terrace bed. I have the beds set at a slight incline away, across and down.
    When doing this I did not add the rock walk way on the bottom terrace, although may still do that. Also, changed the type of rock used against the barn. Had more large flat pieces than the triangle stair type, so just made sure there was a notable slope to drain water away from the barn.
East-barn-terraces-and-water-barrels.jpg
[Thumbnail for East-barn-terraces-and-water-barrels.jpg]
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I happen to have three raised beds along a fence. I do use the fence face as a trellis. These are at the extreme north side of my garden area and I made them three foot tall to allow for solar gain on the bed.
I was looking at that unproductive face of those beds and broke out the hole saw. We'll see how it works but I now have a perforated raised bed face, angled holes the size of a hydroponic net pot. I ran an additional  sub surface drip tape to each net pot and I'll plant one bed face with strawberries and the other with I'm thinking malabar spinach. I won't be stepping on the plants and they won't be in the way of my harvesting from the bed.
If it doesn't work I'll just have to replace the boards later.
 
                          
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I'm just focusing on climbers for my south (actually southeast) side of the house.  Last year I got a decent crop of beans and peas.  This year I'll be adding cinnamon vine, and maybe hardy kiwi (if there is room).  I also planted a few grape vines.  Ultimately their growth may shade annual vines once I put in some sort of arbor.

Last year I used screw eye hooks with netting as the trellis material hanging above metal trellises that stake into the ground.  It looked like crap.  If I had autonomy on this house I would permanently mount a rigid grid framework on the side of the house.  Make it go the entire width of the house and up at least 8-10 feet.  Then just let everything sprawl.

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i would not use those hanging tomato plant things as they are really not that good..

i would however consider a semipermanent lattice in 4 x8 sheets..attach to a 1x on the bottom with a hinge and attach at the top to hooks ..sturdy hooks..

then when you need to maintain your wall, you can lower the lattic to the ground to reach the wall and most of your vines should be able to lower with it..however..perennial vines may have to be cut back if they are too heavy when you lower it.

this is often done on south facing walls and works out quite well...if you are in a cold area do not use the plastic lattice as it will break in the cold..wooden lattice works well but you could also do the same thing with welded metal fence panels..however..they might get really hot..so you might want to paint them white or get them white dipped.

nearly any plant will grow up lattice or welded fenceing without damaging your walls.

you also can attah hooks up by the roof on your facia and run covered wire or twine for a temporary support for lighter weight vines..

i would grow anything that can grow vertically against that wall..beans, peas, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers..etc.

some of the vine crops like cucumbers and melons really prefer a lot of water..so they would be a good choice with the irrigation..you could also extend a garden out from that area and it would benefit from the water and the wind protection and sun reflection.

what a wonderful opportunity for you
 
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