It can involve creating structures to allow plants to grow in a more upright configuration, so they require less space on the ground. It can also involve creating vertical structures that will support tiered gardens. In a polytunnel, with its metal framework, vertical gardening practice can also involve creating hanging gardens, to use space that is usually lost towards the top of the structure.
However large a polytunnel you are able to place, you will always want more space. Vertical gardening can significantly increase the amount of food that you can grow, so whether you have a small polytunnel or a much larger one, adopting vertical gardening techniques can dramatically increase yields. Increasing yield is always a good thing. The more food you are able to grow at home, the more resilient you will be as an individual, and the less negative impact you will have on the wider environment.
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We can reduce our carbon footprints and reduce the waste we produce as households. Vertical garden ideas should ideally be included from the beginning stages of planning your polytunnel layout. Giving some thought to how to use all of the vertical as well as the horizontal space in your garden, however, is something that you can do at any time. The good news is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to install vertical garden structures in a polytunnel and creating vertical garden structures will require only limited DIY ability. Each of the broad categories of vertical garden described below should give you plenty of ideas.
Many of these ideas can be implemented over the course of a weekend, and one of the wonderful thing is that they can also make use of scrap or waste materials that you may have lying around:. It is easy to make trellises and other frameworks for plants in your polytunnel to climb.
The simplest trellis ideas are those which are constructed from a basic wooden frame and fencing material or netting, or created using thin bamboo canes or other branches from your garden. When placing trellises or other such structures, it is a good idea to consider the shade that these will cast on other areas of the polytunnel throughout the day and throughout the year. It is also a good idea to affix them in such a way that they can easily be moved when you require to be able to do so.
Bear in mind that the shading from a trellis may sometimes be beneficial in a polytunnel, and also that trellising could be used to compartmentalise a larger tunnel to create different growing areas with conditions suited to different plants. For example, you may create an area towards one end of a polytunnel that is more humid than the rest of the space.
Simple cordon wires suspended from the polytunnel structure, or garden canes planted in the growing areas could also allow you to grow more plants in a smaller area by allowing plants to be tied in and grown vertically rather than being allowed to bush-out and sprawl.
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Tomatoes, for example, are one common polytunnel-grown plant that can do well when cordoned. Another simple vertical gardening structure that can work well in a domestic polytunnel is a tipi or wigwam-like structure created from bamboo canes or other branches tied together at the top. Tipis can can effective ways to grow a range of beans, as well as other vining plants.
Hanging baskets can be bought in a range of different styles, shapes and sizes, though polytunnel gardeners should also consider their options for creating their own hanging containers. A range of reclaimed and recycled household items can be used for this purpose, such as long kitchen colanders, or old plant pots wired up with garden wire.
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Plastic packaging from food and drink can also be used to create a range of hanging gardens. For example, you can string milk containers by their handles along a garden cane, with their top quarters removed, in order to create a more substantial hanging garden for crops such as herbs or salad leaves, or string half plastic drinks bottles along a wire. Polytunnel gardeners can also make sure that they are making the most of the space in their polytunnels by creating hanging shelves which can be suspended from the crop bars and raised and lowered as required throughout the year.
This sort of flexible staging can be particularly beneficial in smaller polytunnels where space is at a premium. This shelving can be easily raised out of the way when no longer required for seedlings, in late spring, and lowered again after crops from below have been harvested later in the year.
It is a good idea to make sure that this shelving does not exclude too much light from plants growing below. You could make a shelf out of mesh, wire or even leftover polytunnel plastic stretched over a wooden frame, though a simple wooden plank shelf may also be suitable for certain scenarios. One of the very simplest ways to create a vertical garden system is to create shelves, which offer different levels for pacing containers, or which can be planted up with salad crops and other quick and easy edible crops.
When creating shelving, polytunnel gardeners should remember that the lower shelves should still have access to enough light to allow plants to grow. However, it may be possible to take advantage of greater shading on lower shelves to prevent certain plants from bolting during the summer months.
This can also create different micro-climatic conditions for a wider range of species. The basic idea is to suspend a panel containing just enough growing media against a wall.
Place your plants in it, and allow water to drip down through the media by automatic or manual means. The roots take up the moisture, and your plants should thrive. In some places, this idea has been taken to a most spectacular level with vast outside walls covered in a tapestry of growing plants. You can recreate a more low-key version against a wall of your own.
One of the simplest ways of doing this is to plant up a pallet and attach it to a wall.
You can use two basic methods here. For the second method, lay the pallet flat and staple a double layer of thick landscape fabric to the back. Turn it over again and fill the whole thing with compost.
Flowers and Plants
You may wish to place a length of soaker hose along the top to trickle water slowly into the structure. Planting pockets are panels of small containers designed to be hung from a wall. Some are made of fabric, while others are made of more solid material, such as plastic. Either way, the idea is the same: hang the panels on the wall, fill them with compost, and plant up.
Wall planters are half-pots or half-baskets attached directly to a wall with brackets. They take up very little space and offer a simple design and use. Fill them with trailing geraniums in the summer to create the atmosphere of a little Spanish courtyard. If you run out of wall space, look to the skies. Hanging baskets require only a sturdy nail to swing from; in return, they will drip with greenery and flowers all summer long.
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They are cheap to buy and easy to plant up. You will need a few things: the hanging basket itself bigger is almost always better; the smaller ones dry out fast , a liner of some sort to hold in the compost real moss pulled up from a lawn works well, but some perfectly respectable fake moss liners are available , a small square cut from a plastic bag, some compost, and some plants.
If you are planting for food, choose herbs, trailing tomatoes, and strawberries , all of which make brilliant hanging basket inhabitants. If all you want from your hanging basket is beauty, choose colorful bedding plants. The traditional recipe for a good-looking hanging basket includes particular ingredients: one upright, bushy, colorful star plant such as a bedding geranium, begonia, or fuchsia ; a few complementary secondary flowering plants such as busy lizzies, nemesia, or pansies ; and a few trailing or filler plants such as petunia, bacopa, or lobelia.
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