In winter it’s nice to have herbs at the front door so that it’s not necessary to venture out into the cold. In the past I’ve grown the basic herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, chives) in a hanging basket but recently saw a herb Verti Garden that was just beautiful. What a feature to have at the front door! It was mounted outside the offices of BallStraathof (Kirchhoffs Seeds) and I asked Kathy Varney, how she did it.
As Kathy explained, the Verti Garden is a modular vertical growing system. A module consists of a lightweight outer metal frame, a tough but light plastic growing tray and lid, a mesh top and inline irrigation system. Its dimensions are 500mm by 400mm with a depth of about 90mm. The irrigation pipe is connected to a water tank that is mounted separately above the panel and gravity draws the water down through the panel.
For impact she decided to go big, linking six modules together. She planted it with thyme, sage, oregano and parsley, edged with ornamental Carex grass.
The watering system was also set up. Each module has its own irrigation system but where two or more modules are used together the piping can be joined to form a single system.
Normally the system has a tank at the top and watering is done by gravity. However, because the top would be out of reach when the panels were mounted on the wall, Kathy set up a different watering system.
She ran a piece of piping up the side of the panel to the top where an elbow connection was used to connect the piping with the irrigation tube running into the system. At the other end of the pipe she attached a hose connection.
When it came to mounting the panels, Kathy decided not to screw the brackets containing the planted up modules directly into the wall but rather to mount them onto wooden blocks.
“The advantage of this,’ says Kathy’, is that the walls are not riddled with holes as if you had fired a shotgun at it. The roughness of the bricks also dictated a more stable base’
Having the brackets so firmly in place makes it easy to take down the modules when the plants are over, replant and replace. Essentially, the VertiGarden becomes a permanent fixture.
To water, she simply clicks a garden hose onto the end of the pipe and switches on. She says it is a good idea to fit a pressure regulator but is not absolutely essential.
The hose is switched on for five to 10 minutes twice a day. The frequency and length of watering depends on the amount of sun, the temperature and the season, says Kathy.
Being a closed system there is very little evaporation and very little water wastage. If the panel receives too much water it will drip out from the bottom modules, so it is easily regulated.
Kathy says that strawberries, salad leaves, flowers, grasses and groundcovers can be grown in the Verti Garden.
The system was developed in the United Kingdom and is now available in South Africa and Australia.