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What to grow in your vertical garden

Ever felt the calling to explore your inner gardener? Or wondered if you were blessed with a green thumb but didn’t know where to start or if you could keep your plant friends alive? Well, it’s a new year which means now is the perfect time to nip your gardening fears in the bud, sow some seeds and get gardening. 

By now you’ve probably heard the term “vertical gardening” being thrown around. But what exactly is it and how can it work with apartment living? You’re about to find out. In this article, we discuss the advantages of gardening with purpose, the different types of vertical gardens, how to get your garden growing, and which local businesses you should connect with on your gardening adventure, as well as a few tips and tricks to keep your garden happy and healthy. 

Vertical gardening isn’t just another fad or trend that’ll be over in a minute. When done right, vertical gardening is the best way to bring life into small spaces while growing some goodness that you can actually use. 

The advantages of vertical gardening

Vertical gardening is gardening with purpose. And for many, it means growing fresh produce that they can use for cooking in their everyday life. Herbs like basil, mint, thyme and rosemary are the most common for vertical gardening. The less popular plant choice, but still wildly successful for those who do choose to grow them are fruits and vegetables.  Whatever you decide, here’s why you should choose to create a vertical garden:

  • They can provide privacy, be used to upgrade your aesthetic and block views that you’d prefer not to look at regularly. 
  • People with disabilities can access and benefit from them easily. 
  • They’re an environmentally friendly way to repurpose and recycle materials. 
  • Produce is easier to grow and harvest via a vertical garden.
  • They take up less space and are less demanding than traditional in-the-ground gardens. 

Styles & types of vertical gardens 

Now that you know what the advantages are, here are some ideas of the different styles you could use to easily and functionally incorporate your garden into your space: 

Gutter Gardens Practical and pretty, gutter gardens are made by hanging a literal gutter with a couple of drainage holes along a fence, wall or balcony rail. Not only do they take up minimal space, when done right, these gardens don’t look out of place in the slightest. 

Hanging Gardens Use hanging baskets in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles to create a functional garden that looks in a living room or out on a terrace. 

Pocket Gardens Garden pockets that are available at local garden centres are easy to use. But if you’re not finding the right one for your garden project, you can easily DIY these pockets by adding drainage holes to an over-the-door shoe storage hanger

How to get your garden growing

Before you dig in, use this checklist as a guide to ensure you’re thoroughly prepared: 

  1. Which plants do you want to grow? Make a list of the herbs and veggies you’re keen on. Start with a few and expand as your garden grows. 
  2. Do some research on which local nursery has them in stock, either as seeds or seedlings. 
  3. Choose a spot for your garden. Consider exposure to light and the elements. For optimal growth opportunities, you’d want a good balance of light and shade. 
  4. Got your spot? Plan a layout for your garden based on plant height, and plant type. 
  5. Choose your garden style and plan for installation. 

Start your gardening adventure with these local businesses

Over the last couple of years, gardening has grown in popularity and with this, a number of local plants-focused businesses have sprouted up. In the name of supporting local, here are our favourite shops for finding everything you need and more to get your garden growing: 

Plantify For pots, plants, accessories and supplies, Plantify is a lovely urban plantery located on Roodehek Street in Gardens. Even if you’re sorted with the supplies, we recommend you pay them or their website visit for some sage advice and handy plant care tips. 

Gardens Nursery A hidden gem in the middle of the city, Gardens Nursery is a hole-in-the-wall locally owned and run plant shop located within walking distance of the garden’s centre. They stock a small selection of indigenous and non-indigenous potted plants and flowers. Next time you’re on a Woolies run, be sure to pay them a visit!

Hammer & Tongs Hardware Any home improvement project needs a good and reliable hardware store, and with Hammers and Tongs Hardware you won’t be disappointed. They carry every tool and garden-related supply you could possibly need. 

Folha Everybody who’s anybody owns a plant or three from Folha, and for good reason. Not only do they stock the widest selection of indoor plants and plant accessories in the area, but they’re also a boutique plant shop that focuses on empowering their customers with gardening tips and plant knowledge. Visit them online, at the Oranjezicht Market on the weekend, or at their flagship store in De Waterkant. 

Mambo’s With a wide selection of home and garden accessories, Mambo’s in Green Point is the place to shop for any of the basics you may require for your vertical garden. 

Feeling inspired to turn over a new leaf and start your vertical garden? We hope so! Have you found a nursery or plant shop in the area that’s not included in our list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter. 

How gardening benefits your mind and body

Gardening is much more than a fun hobby or productive way to pass the time. Did you know that all that time you spend outside potting around the garden is doing wonders for your health and well-being? There is no better soul food than being out in nature, especially as the weather starts to warm up. 

So, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, dust the cobwebs off that garden spade and get digging this spring. Here’s how spending time in your garden will benefit you in the long run.  

1.Burn calories 

We have good news for those who enjoy spending hours in the garden! Gardening is considered moderate-intensity exercise and you can burn roughly 330 calories with one hour of light gardening. Beyond its caloric benefits, gardening can also help improve dexterity and strength, muscle mass and functional movement. 

 2.Reduce stress 

Gardening has been proven to lower stress levels, by minimising cortisol – our stress hormone. Even people without a green thumb can find a sense of calm, we’re sure of it. Along with stress reduction, gardening has been shown to help manage depression and anxiety, and has been used as a method of therapy in a number of cases.

3. Boost your mood  

The act of growing plants brings about a sense of accomplishment and joy, and it’s no surprise that spending time in the sunlight lifts your spirits. Simply being surrounded by plants is enough to boost our serotonin levels, and people who grow their own food seem to take particular joy in tending to their plants.

4. Spend quality time with the family  

You don’t need to garden or weed alone, nor should you. So, get the family involved and make a day out of it! Working in the garden together allows you to spend authentic, quality time together, and watching all of your plants grow makes the whole process even more meaningful, from start to finish. Plus, the kids will love getting their hands and clothes dirty!

5. Eat more fruit and vegetables 

We all intend to eat healthier each month, but that doesn’t mean it always happens. The truth is, vegetables keep our body running smoothly and protect us from chronic diseases. And when you grow your own, you’re more likely to want to eat them! 

In Cape Town, many of us are lucky to have a garden or a balcony, even if it’s a small one. If it’s inspiration you’re lacking, the City bowl is home to a range of quirky gardening shops to get you started. Between Happy By Nature, Folha and Plantify, you’ll have plenty of help transforming your home into a happy space. Go and get out there and get your hands dirty!

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