I love to garden and grow my own food, but I also want a beautiful yard so the more I can grow in less space the better. Container gardening has been a fun experiment for me this year. I love the idea of container gardening because it’s easy to keep track of what I planted where, and if I need to move my plants to get more, or less sun I just pick up the pot and move it! To really maximize the space I’m growing in I decided to try and make my own vertical planters. There are numerous vertical planters on the market, from the hydroponic Tower Garden (which we own and love) to plain stack-able planters. The Garden Tower is another great product, but it’s expensive and if you want more than one it can add up quickly. I made one vertical planter for lettuce, herbs and broccoli and two planters to hold my strawberries I was relocating. All together I spent less than $5 on the three planters using many items I already had around my home, but if you need to purchase all or some of the materials your planters might cost up to $10 each.
Here’s what you’ll need –
3-4 large recycled pots – $0-$2 each – I used leftover pots from projects that were already lying around, but if you don’t have any pots keep an eye out for neighbors doing landscaping projects, call your local nurseries or landscaping companies to see if you can get someone to part with them for free. As a last resort you can purchase plain black planting pots for $1-$2 a piece online or at a nursery.
1 drip pan – $1 – We didn’t have any of these around the house, but we did have some used catering trays I had purchased at the Dollar Store that worked perfectly.
1-2 can(s) of spray paint – $1-$2 – If you’re growing something you’re concerned would wilt if it were up against a black pot (like lettuce) grab a can of spray paint and paint your pots white (only on the outside!) I used two cans for extra coverage, but it wasn’t really necessary.
A drill and spade drill bit – hopefully you already have a drill in your home tool box, but you may need to purchase a spade drill bit if you don’t already have one. I used a 1 ½ inch spade drill bit, but you can adjust the size if you don’t have that bit, or want to customize your planter.
Okay, now that you’ve got all your tools and materials together the first step to making your planter is going to be spray painting the outside if desired. I spray painted my pots that I’ll be using to grow lettuce and herbs in, but left my strawberry pots black.
After you paint your pots you are ready to drill your planting holes. Use your drill and spade drill bit to make as many or as few holes as you desire. My herbs I knew I could plant closer together so I drilled eight holes on the pot I planned to put herbs in, but for the pots I planned on putting broccoli in I only drilled four holes. If you’re unsure what you plan to plant, or plan on rotating and planting different fruits/veggies/flowers six planting holes is a safe number to ensure you aren’t crowding and all your plants get adequate sunlight. Don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom of your pots to ensure proper drainage!
After you drill all your holes you have a couple of options on how you stack and plant your vertical garden. For my strawberry planters I planted my strawberries as I filled my pots. This worked out really well since I was transplanting the strawberries and they had bigger roots. For my herb/lettuce tower I filled it and stacked it, then took a spoon to the holes to remove some dirt and put in my seedlings. When you are stacking your pots make sure you level the dirt in each pot before adding the next one on top. If you plan on stacking more than three or four pots you will need a center support, but I don’t recommend it because the soil on the bottom will be compressed, due to the weight on top, and your roots will have trouble thriving.
This is my first vertical garden planter a week after I planted it. I also used to top of my herb/lettuce planter to plant wheatgrass for juicing. This is what my strawberry planter immediately after planting. The strawberries wilted slightly after planting, but I kept them well watered and they perked up quickly. Several weeks later the strawberries are doing fantastic, my lettuce and broccoli took a beating from our chickens that decided it was tasty, but they are all doing good now. The strawberries did so good I built a second planter and it is also doing fantastic.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your planters. I know I just did mine in black and white, but you can customize the color to match your house paint, your favorite color, or let your kids decorate the pots for a fun way to get them involved in gardening!
If you have any questions on how to build your own vertical garden let me know in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer them. Also, if you build your own planters be sure to send me pictures I would love to see them, and add them to the site for others to see.