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I live in Milton Keynes (UK) and would like to transform my small (tiny) garden into something that produces food.

I don't have any gardening experience, but I'm inspired to have a go, and have purchased one of these vertical grow pocket systems. 


If it works I'll purchase more to cover my entire fence.

I’d be grateful to receive any advise regarding starting off with seeds, where to buy soil, and creating a cheap DIY irrigation system.

I've listed some of the foods we're interested to grow bellow, and would be really grateful to receive any advise.

I understand that some of these items won't be suitable for the grow pockets system, and may be better suited to buckets or beds, which I may also have a go at.

Thanks in advance
Dave




Loads of baby greens: Swiss chard, Spinach, Rocket…
Lettuce
Strawberries 
Rosemary
Sage
Mint
Celery
Coriander
Basil
Chilli (we eat loads of chilli)
Radish
Watermelon
Cucumber
Tomato
Broccoli
Carrots
Peppers
Kale
Bay leaves
Chives
Parsley
Potatoes
Ginger
Onions
Spring onions
Garlic
Lemon grass
 
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I had one of these until my HOA made me take it down. 

Basil, rosemary, small herbs and strawberries can work.  Potatoes, bay leaves, carrots, and onions will not.  You might want to consider making or buying a stand that you could hang\place bigger growth containers
 
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Those pockets look small and will probably dry out fast unless it's a hydroponic set up. Those aren't live flowers shown in the pockets of the photo. As for small-space-okay-things: rocket, basil, thyme, oregano, green onions/chives, micro and baby lettuce/greens  have worked for me in the past.

I have no idea what your yard looks like. A lot of that stuff takes space. Some can be grown indoors with a bright sunny window.

I do garden design in Ohio and used to live in CA and grow on a garden on my apartment balconies. I know a lot of people here also have experience designing gardens. Maybe you could post a sketch of the area you have to work with and scribble lightly on the shady areas?
 
Dave Rennie
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Caroline Rodgers wrote:I had one of these until my HOA made me take it down. 

Basil, rosemary, small herbs and strawberries can work.  Potatoes, bay leaves, carrots, and onions will not.  You might want to consider making or buying a stand that you could hang\place bigger growth containers


Thank you Caroline,

I will give the smaller herbs and possibly strawberries a try this weekend.
 
Dave Rennie
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Amit Enventres wrote:Those pockets look small and will probably dry out fast unless it's a hydroponic set up. Those aren't live flowers shown in the pockets of the photo. As for small-space-okay-things: rocket, basil, thyme, oregano, green onions/chives, micro and baby lettuce/greens  have worked for me in the past.

I have no idea what your yard looks like. A lot of that stuff takes space. Some can be grown indoors with a bright sunny window.

I do garden design in Ohio and used to live in CA and grow on a garden on my apartment balconies. I know a lot of people here also have experience designing gardens. Maybe you could post a sketch of the area you have to work with and scribble lightly on the shady areas?


Thanks Amit,

Our garden is very small. probably 5x6 meters, with 3 fenced sides.
I see your point about the pockets being small and drying up fast, and would like to make a simple DIY drip irrigation system at some point if it goes to plan.
 
Amit Enventres
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That's not horribly small! The food forest part of my garden is about that size. I have 14 fruit trees,  16 bushes, a pond, a green house, composting contraption, a bunch of berry brambles, a couple grapes, some asparagus, a mushroom patch, and a bunch of annuals. I have some paths to get around in that jungle.

I assume you want some open space in your garden and that's why you are going for the pockets?
 
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Dave,
Those plant pockets are awfully small, but more importantly the shape is bad. They narrow at the bottom -- precisely where a plant needs the most room for its roots. If I were you, I would use that pocket thing in a workshop or shed for tools (trowels, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. or even screws and nails) and make better use of the fences by hanging buckets, window boxes, plant pots, etc. from them.

I don't know what kind of fence you have, but depending upon how strong it is, you could easily hang average-size flower pots (or buckets, cans, boxes, etc.) ... say, up to 1 gallon size, by simply drilling a couple holes in the back and wiring them to the fence (or hang from S-hooks). Bigger pots could go on the ground a couple feet in front of a solid fence (so they can get more light) or right up against a chain link or wire fence. If you put pots of beans, cucumbers, peas -- anything that vines or can be trained to grow vertically -- in pots at the base of the fence, the fence can be the support. You can also put a window box at the top and let vines trail down.

   

   


You might also consider constructing planting boxes or beds along the fences. No one ever just walks around or sits right up against a fence, so that is unused space anyway for the most part. Why not make yourself some narrow -- like 2' wide" -- raised beds a few inches in front of the fence. You don't want them touching the fence because the moisture in the soil could cause a wood fence to rot, or if your fence is wire, the soil would sift through. If you make them about 2' high, they will hold quite a bit of soil so you could even plant potatoes or other root vegetables in them. If you make them from wood and put wide finish boards on the top, you can sit on them while you weed. (Great if you have a lot of weeds or a bad back! )


At any rate there are a lot of other great ideas out there for growing on or next to fences. Check some of these out for inspiration ...
http://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-ideas/how-to/g1274/how-to-plant-a-vertical-garden/
https://www.pinterest.com/explore/landscaping-along-fence/?lp=true

Have Fun!
 
Dave Rennie
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Amit Enventres wrote:That's not horribly small! The food forest part of my garden is about that size. I have 14 fruit trees,  16 bushes, a pond, a green house, composting contraption, a bunch of berry brambles, a couple grapes, some asparagus, a mushroom patch, and a bunch of annuals. I have some paths to get around in that jungle.

I assume you want some open space in your garden and that's why you are going for the pockets?


Maybe I need to measure it, as at the moment we only have a trampoline and little space for anything else.
We are tenants, and our landlord is considering installing fake grass (not very Permy I know...)
So, we want to make as much use of the little space we will potentially have.
If the first one of these pockets goes well, we'll buy more to go around the entire fencing of the garden, and possibly have beds bellow for other stuff.
This is our first venture into anything green.
 
Dave Rennie
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Deb Stephens wrote:Amit,
Those plant pockets are awfully small, but more importantly the shape is bad. They narrow at the bottom -- precisely where a plant needs the most room for its roots. If I were you, I would use that pocket thing in a workshop or shed for tools (trowels, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. or even screws and nails) and make better use of the fences by hanging buckets, window boxes, plant pots, etc. from them.

I don't know what kind of fence you have, but depending upon how strong it is, you could easily hang average-size flower pots (or buckets, cans, boxes, etc.) ... say, up to 1 gallon size, by simply drilling a couple holes in the back and wiring them to the fence (or hang from S-hooks). Bigger pots could go on the ground a couple feet in front of a solid fence (so they can get more light) or right up against a chain link or wire fence. If you put pots of beans, cucumbers, peas -- anything that vines or can be trained to grow vertically -- in pots at the base of the fence, the fence can be the support. You can also put a window box at the top and let vines trail down.

   

   


You might also consider constructing planting boxes or beds along the fences. No one ever just walks around or sits right up against a fence, so that is unused space anyway for the most part. Why not make yourself some narrow -- like 2' wide" -- raised beds a few inches in front of the fence. You don't want them touching the fence because the moisture in the soil could cause a wood fence to rot, or if your fence is wire, the soil would sift through. If you make them about 2' high, they will hold quite a bit of soil so you could even plant potatoes or other root vegetables in them. If you make them from wood and put wide finish boards on the top, you can sit on them while you weed. (Great if you have a lot of weeds or a bad back! )


At any rate there are a lot of other great ideas out there for growing on or next to fences. Check some of these out for inspiration ...
http://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-ideas/how-to/g1274/how-to-plant-a-vertical-garden/
https://www.pinterest.com/explore/landscaping-along-fence/?lp=true

Have Fun!


Thanks for the post Deb,

The fences we have in England aren't very stable. They blow over and self destruct with a gust of wind. They wouldn't be up to having pots screwed into them.

I'm already sceptical of the pockets that I've purchased (I still haven't received them), but if they are no good I will look for other options.

Here is a post from someone who used IKEA shoe pockets in a similar way. These may be a better option than the pockets I've purchased.
http://www.instructables.com/id/VERTICAL-VEGETABLES-quotGrow-upquot-in-a-smal/

Thanks
Dave
 
Amit Enventres
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Yeah, trampolines take up a lot of space and renting means espelier trees aren't worth it- especially if the landlord is talking​ fake grass. Good luck with the pockets! I had a balcony garden with lots of all sizes for a while and it was very educational as to what and how to grow things. Life changing really.
 
Dave Rennie
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Amit Enventres wrote:Yeah, trampolines take up a lot of space and renting means espelier trees aren't worth it- especially if the landlord is talking​ fake grass. Good luck with the pockets! I had a balcony garden with lots of all sizes for a while and it was very educational as to what and how to grow things. Life changing really.


Sorry for the slow reply, I didn't see this.
Yes trampolines take up most of the garden, so I'm looking for an edible plant solution that will grow well under the shade of it. Any suggestions?
 
Dave Rennie
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So, we finally dipped our toes into a gardening project over the weekend.

I aim to keep this thread fresh with updates, and will keep it photo rich.
Due to the 4 image per post limitation, I’ll spread the first thread out amongst several posts.

We have limited growing options in our garden, so we’ve started off with 2 vertical pocket systems.
The first, an IKEA product that is designed to hold shoes. Not bad for £5.

The pockets are very deep and hold loads of soil (possibly far too much for what we're growing?)









In this pocket system we planted strawberries, a few tumbling tomatoes, mint, sage & rosemary.









After a good soaking, the finished system looked like this.





I attached this to the back of the shed door with a few screws and washers.



We then moved onto the next stage.
An EBay 72 pockets system. £10 delivered.



These pockets are very shallow, and only hold a couple of handfuls of soil.



In the bottom section we planted alpine strawberries and tumbling tomatoes.



We planted a variety of seeds straight into the soil.
All edible, mostly salads (lettuce, baby leaf, herbs, spring onions….)









We topped the pockets off with more soil, then gave each pocket a good drink.







The finished product looks like this, and is attached to the fence like so.









Stage 3 was planting seeds in seed trays, incase the seeds don’t germinate in the pockets.









It was a fun day in the sun, and hopefully it will be successful in providing us with some food.
If it does, I’ll put more effort into expanding the idea with DIY vertical planters with raised beds below.

So far the only movement has been from the magic beans that we swapped the Mrs for



 
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Our vertical strawberry wall using Larry's flower pouches. https://steemit.com/gardening/@josephinky/going-vertical-with-plants
20170513_145433.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170513_145433.jpg]
 
Dave Rennie
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Joseph Fields wrote:Our vertical strawberry wall using Larry's flower pouches. https://steemit.com/gardening/@josephinky/going-vertical-with-plants


Thanks Joseph,

I see you are using guttering. How has that worked out for you?
I am considering guttering for a future project.
 
Joseph Fields
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Worked good for greens in the spring. To hot for then now.
 
Dave Rennie
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Joseph Fields wrote:Worked good for greens in the spring. To hot for then now.

Ok thank you
 
Dave Rennie
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Quick update from Slow Grow Farm.
3 days in and the first few shoots are starting to appear in the vertical planter and the seed trays.





It’s a good job we’re not relying on this as a food source

The strawberries are ripening nicely, and there may be a few ready to enjoy in the next few days.





I’ve just purchased some bits and bobs to experiment with a microgreens project.
I plan to start over the weekend, and will post a record of it all here too.

Over the last year I’ve started eating loads of salad, and I really want to be able to grow our own all year round.
 
Dave Rennie
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A few more shoots appearing this morning.



The Mrs started a rosemary cutting last night, and planted a red onion that was beginning to sprout.
Not sure what will happen with that...


 
Dave Rennie
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Making use of yesterday's paddling pool water...





 
Dave Rennie
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Quick update.
A few of the planted seeds are coming on strong, but only about 10% have sprouted so far.



After giving them their 2nd soak of the day, I gave the kids a good drenching too.







 
Deb Stephens
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Dave,

After looking through all your photos, I have to say that whatever does or does not come up in your vertical garden, you have a gift  to be envied -- you've managed to grow a great family. With such sweet and willing helpers, it will have to work out well in the end! 
 
Dave Rennie
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Deb Stephens wrote:Dave,

After looking through all your photos, I have to say that whatever does or does not come up in your vertical garden, you have a gift  to be envied -- you've managed to grow a great family. With such sweet and willing helpers, it will have to work out well in the end! 



Thanks Deb,
I deleted thousands of genuine pics to find a few of us looking the way you perceived us to be

The seeds have taken form in the later part of the day.
I noted that around 10% of seed had sprouted at around lunch, now it's closer to 40%!
Amazing to see really. For a bunch of novices like us anyway.
 
Dave Rennie
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Popie (my lovely Mrs) has just followed something she remembers seeing her mum do as a child. Throwing chopped chillies onto soil and watering.
Let's hope this works, as we go through loads of chilli...







 
Dave Rennie
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So, we’re a week in, and here’s a quick update on the vertical systems.

We’re well above 50% sprouting on the seeds in both the EBay planter and the seed trays.







Hopefully by this time next week we’ll be able to see some form of the leaves.

The IKEA shed door planter has done so so.



The mint has grown quite a bit, and we’ve all been nibbling leaves from it throughout the week.

Today we spent the day at a local farm/theme park.
Chickens, lamb, pony’s etc. It was a nice day out.









We’ve also started a Microgreens project as another experiment to grow our own greens.
I like this concept for it’s very fast turn around, can be achieved all year round, and takes little space and investment.

So we bought some cheap seeds from Wilko’s, Labled them into plastic cups and….







soaked them for 24 hours.









Today we sprinkled them onto some moist top soil…



Gave them a good soaking…



Placed them in the conservatory…



And placed a roof over their heads where they’ll remain for the next 5 days….



In 5 days time, we’ll remove the roof and give them another 7-14 days in the conservatory, and then (if all goes to plan) gobble them up in a nice salad….

While we’re on the subject of gobbling stuff up…
Popie made one of her delectable, healthy, high fat cheese cakes as a fathers day treat, and we topped it off with 7 of our own grown strawberries.








 
Dave Rennie
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Microgreens after 24hrs on soil in darkness.







 
Dave Rennie
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Quick morning update.
We seem to get overnight spurts of growth.





Alpine strawberries are starting to form.



And the tomatoes have finally decided to join the party.

 
Dave Rennie
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Microgreens 48hrs under darkness.



I was concerned with the white mold around the seedlings, but some research suggested it was a normal part of the germination process.

 
Dave Rennie
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Microgreens 72hrs of darkness.








 
Dave Rennie
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Microgreens after 96hrs of darkness.
I'll keep the kids off now and let them bathe in the sun for another week or so(in the conservatory).

So far so good.
The pea's (the full flat) don't look so great, but they may spurt now the roof is off. We'll see.










 
Dave Rennie
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Quick update on the microgreens.
I think we're on about day 6 now, and the radishes are steaming ahead!









As for the vertical growing.
Things are going so so. We're almost 2 weeks in now.
Some varieties are doing ok, some quite poor, and a few that haven't turned up to the party.

Maybe I'm watering too much.









The toms have shown slight growth.



But the alpine strawberries in the green vertical grower have been slow.



I made a few tweets to try and improve a few plants.





I moved the mint, sage & rosemary from the white IKEA planter to a pot of their own.
We've added a few curry leaf cuttings in there too.





I moved the strawberries and toms from the green planter into the IKEA planter, as they were shading the seedlings in the pockets behind them.

I planted some of the seedlings from trays into the bottom empty pockets.

I think this will work better than the previous arrangement.
 
Dave Rennie
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We started a new microgreens experiment today.

We bought a bag of sunflower seeds and want to see the difference between soaked/dry planting.



So, I filled a flat with soil,



Pressed it down, soaked it,



sprinkled 70g of seed over the top,



Wet the seed,



then placed an empty flat on top,



and weighed it down with my lizard boots.



According to a renowned microgreen specialist, the boots will give the leaves a reptilian kick.

The second experiment was to soak 70g of seed for 24 hrs, then plant in the same way as the dry seed.





We'll see what the end results are.











 
Dave Rennie
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Another experiment with microgreens.
I read last night that because microgreens are harvested at a juvenile age, they don't rely on nutrients from soil, as all their nutrients come from within the seed.

So, we'll try growing on damp kitchen towel.



Covered and pressed down with another pair of boots.




 
Dave Rennie
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More boots on the ground.
The soaked seeds now sowed and covered.







2 weeks in for the vertical grower.
I'm not sure how to measure the progress, but it's been a fun little family project so far.




 
Dave Rennie
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Today was our first microgreens harvest.
The peas are still a few days away from the table, but we gave everything else a go.







The radish, beetroots and lettuce went into tonight's meals.









Macaroni cheese for the little one.



Opor ayam (chicken in coconut) for the Mrs.



And steak for me.



It was nice to eat something we'd grown from seed.

We've set up a small area in the conservatory that we'll use for microgreens and mescaline salads. More on that tomorrow.
 
Dave Rennie
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Quick update from the vertical pockets.
There are some nice leafy greens popping up here and there.
I'm hoping to have some of this on plates within a few more weeks.









I've set up a shelving system in the conservatory for microgreens and possibly other quick turn around or cut and grow again salads.





If all goes to plan I will set up a system with lights either in the conservatory or garage.

Here are the results of the experiment with 3 different methods. From left to right.
Left: dry seed sowed on wet soil.
Center: dry seed on wet kitchen tissue (started 24hrs after other 2 tests).
Right: soaked seed (24hrs) on wet soil.


 
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Warning....do NOT use commercial bird seed as food stuff. They spray it intensely with chemicals to kill bugs inside the seed and prevent mold so they can store it longer. Please do not eat those sunflower sprouts.  As a parrot parent I learned all folks feeding wild bird seed to parrots and how it significantly shortens their lives. I didn't see this post until today or I would have warned you ahead of time.

I spent years growing greens easy as pie--buckwheat and sunflower--you can get a very reasonable supply of human food grade seeds at most health food stores. I know you are in the UK, so the suppliers may be different, but I would seek out human grade seeds for this project.

Good luck with your projects--things seem to be coming along quite well!
 
Dave Rennie
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Alexandra Clark wrote:Warning....do NOT use commercial bird seed as food stuff. They spray it intensely with chemicals to kill bugs inside the seed and prevent mold so they can store it longer. Please do not eat those sunflower sprouts.  As a parrot parent I learned all folks feeding wild bird seed to parrots and how it significantly shortens their lives. I didn't see this post until today or I would have warned you ahead of time.

I spent years growing greens easy as pie--buckwheat and sunflower--you can get a very reasonable supply of human food grade seeds at most health food stores. I know you are in the UK, so the suppliers may be different, but I would seek out human grade seeds for this project.

Good luck with your projects--things seem to be coming along quite well!


Thank you for the warning.
I will look into that now.
 
Dave Rennie
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The sunflowers that were planted directly onto soil have done best so far.

I realize now that the experiment is flawed in that the seed planted directly on soil has had 24hrs more darkness than the other two trays.





I will test again next round.

The seed sowed on kitchen roll hasn't done well.

We've been nibbling on the peas over the last two days. Packed with flavor!



I've got a few more trays germinating that will go into the top shelf in the next few days.
 
Dave Rennie
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The pocket systems are progressing nicely now. Almost 3 weeks in, and most seeds have been successful.





Not sure who the culprit is, but we've got competition on the strawberries!



Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
 
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Thanks to all for the interesting topic and your contributions.

I would add that having a setup like this is ideal to experiment with seeds and different growing conditions. You could variate the clay content of your soil in the wall contraption and experiment with other additives such as lime, ground up basalt, etc.....

From experience with contraptions of my wife and mum. I would say you beter have the water and shade tollerant plants at the bottom and the drought tolerant at the top. Having a mulch on top of your soil/compost wil reduce drying out and washing away of soil. In my opinion - good drainage and water/nutrient retaining materials mixed in with the soil are essential for most plants.



You could also have moveable containers at the bottom of your fence in which you could plant brambles, etc.... Leading the growth along the fence - espalier style. If you leave the house - take them with you.

Even small fruit trees could be grown that way, if you think that it's worth the effort. After all that's the way some great museum collections are run.
 
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