Last season my 14-year-old daughter came to me and said, “I want to plant some seeds this year.” Awesome. I suggested she plant a few seeds in one of my front lawn beds and was answered emphatically, “NO! I want to grow my own garden!” She gave me a long list of ideas on where she would like to plant her garden and I happily agreed and settled for a vertical garden space on the balcony.
MyGardenPost.com sent out a great vertical garden for the family to try, so we determined that would be my girl’s planting station for her very own garden. First step – seeds. We attended the Chicago Botanic Gardens annual Orchid Show and Seed Swap in hopes of finding a few unique seeds exchanged with fellow gardeners at no cost.
There were hundreds of people and thousands of seeds at the seed swap for my daughter to select from. At last she came away with some favorites after speaking for hours with gardeners and trying to choose. She planted the seeds up in little seed starting containers and waited until spring.
Once spring arrived, she assembled the vertical garden system. Putting together the post system with planters was easy, however, she found it a bit challenging to put in the drip irrigation system so decided against it in favor of hand watering. Drip irrigation would definitely have allowed for automated watering . However, the post was easy to maintain as is and my daughter had no weeds to worry over.For soil we used Organic Mechanics Potting Soil with a soil amendment of some Winchester Gardens Organic Fertilizer, which worked marvelously. Both these amendments are easy to use and do not smell. She tried some Natures E.N.V. soil amendment, but it smelled so stinky (like a barnyard) that she really didn’t like working with it (the smell is very over powering).
Once she got the soil all prepared, it was planting time. In the bottom two largest containers, she planted a tiny cherry tomato from called, “Sara’s Galapagos tomato” and a vining green bean plant. Next level up she planted an ordinary variety of datura flower (which turned out to be the most fascinating of all the plants due to it’s seeding nature). One more level up she planted catnip for her sister’s pet cat. On the top level she planted a Brazelberries blueberry plant.
Nearly every day of the summer she checked on her plants and made sure they were watered and the reward was definitely worth the work – she had many green beans and tiny cherry tomatoes to taste. Her favorite part was watching the entire life process of the datura. Her blueberry did not produce, so next year she wants to try something even more exciting in her special vertical garden.
She loved growing her very own garden and learned that living things take nurturing and care from this experience. My daughter also learned patience as a part of growing a vertical wall garden using a vertical garden system. Teach your children how to grow – any old space will do like your balcony or patio – and it will make their hearts happy.
Special thanks to the companies that provided organic soil, fertilizer, and a delightful vertical garden system to try for our project. My kid had a great time planting! If you would like to learn more ideas on how to grow an organic vertical garden or a living wall, please check out my book for lots of creative ideas on growing “up” — Grow a Living Wall.