Garden Expansion

In order to capitalize on the extended AZ growing season I’m planning a garden expansion.  Good times!

The problem that I have in the winter is light.  The backyard faces north and so light is limited, especially in December.  What I am thinking is adding two wooden, wall mounted, vertical gardens.  They would be three layers high, about 10” x  10” x  8’, with 12” of space between the levels.  Forgive the rudimentary drawing but I’m envisioning something like this:


I’ve been thinking leeks, onions, kale, peas, and garlic.

There would be two units (so six total layers) that would mount to the back wall of my yard, which gets sun the whole winter.  I liked the idea because the sun would warm the block wall which would keep the plants a little warmer at night as well and help with any light frosts.

Along with these I am planning four raised beds on the part of the yard that is NOT under our big metal play set.  I’ve consulted with the kids on this and they are on board.  They are also of the understanding that eventually the whole yard will be garden.  Smart kids.  These will get sun MOST of the winter and from my experience the plants kind of “pause” until the sun comes back.

I’m not the greatest builder/DIY guy on the planet, so any thoughts or comments (especially on the vertical units) would be appreciated.

Now I just have to figure out how to get the cost down.  I’m really kind of limited for compost options in my part of the valley, and this is quite a bit of wood.  Hmmm…

This entry was posted in Arizona Garden, intensive gardening, vertical garden and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Garden Expansion

  1. Sheri says:

    Any chance of finding used pallets? Some are treated but I think many are okay for veggies, especially if you line them.

    • I have actually been thinking a lot about the pallets. Quite frankly, I’m not sure where to get them. 🙂 I also had some concerns about the size and how many sections I would have to break each vertical garden into if I went that route. How can you tell if they are treated?

  2. I was thinking pallets as well. But I have also seen pvc pipes used. You just cut out holes in the pipe wherever you want a plant to be. Not sure on cost of pvc pipe in larger diameters, but it would certainly be durable and you wouldn’t need to line it as it is already waterproof.

    • That’s a good thought, I didn’t think of PVC. I’ll have to check the cost. Of course I’ll probably have to check with the Queen of the Garden Blog on the aesthetic appeal of the PVC. Hahaha. I’m not sure how it would hold up either. PVC tends to have a very short life in our intense desert sun. It does do better if you paint it though… and that could up the visual appeal as well… hmmm… good suggestion!

  3. Sheri Fox says:

    I’ve seen a few PVC gardens and they’re not quite as charming but they are really cool! As for finding pallets, I’d just google “how to find used pallets” or maybe skulk around behind grocery stores and construction sites looking for ones stacked by the dumpster. I’m not sure how to tell if they’re treated.

  4. I find pallets on craigslist under the free category. Also some of the best pallets come from store fronts that sell exercise equipment. Some of those pallets are 8 or 10 feet in length. I think you are right about plastic and the Arizona heat. I have relatives that live in Las Vegas and anything plastic doesn’t hold up to the heat. In my humble opinion wood is the only way to go for your area.
    I hope you will tell us all about how it turns out.
    Good luck and have a great vertical garden day.

  5. valbjerke says:

    Up in our neck of the woods it’s common to vertical garden with rain gutters – used or discarded – simply drill a few holes for drainage – top one waters the lower one and so on. This works well for crops that don’t have a heavy root system – salad stuff etc. Kale will work if you use a dwarf variety 😊

    • I’ve actually considered rain gutters for an aquaponics system and a fodder system, but they aren’t cheap. I wouldn’t know where to get used ones, they really aren’t that common around here. I need to get some for my house so I can catch and save the five minute bursts of heavy downpour that we get. Right now the “culled lumber” from Lowe’s is looking like a pretty good deal.

  6. We bought wood for our raised beds at a Habitat for Humanity store and got it for a reasonable price. We always have an abundance of pallets because we use wood pellets in the winter and they arrive on pallets. Have any neighbors or friends who use wood pellets? As far as soil or compost, I’m wondering if you could contact a local Master Gardener group and see if anyone has some on their property they’d be willing to share. We, master gardeners, usually like to share.

    • That is a great suggestion! I know we have a Habitat store in town somewhere, come to think of it there is a recycled materials store as well. I’ve never been to either but sounds like now would be a great time! Thank you. As far as wood pellets go… my brother uses those but he lives in KY. Not a lot of people do too much with heating here. Some people never use it at all. We have a gas furnace but it only runs at night for a couple of months out of the year, and that’s just because we have AZ thin blood. My Mrs. gets cold below 80 degrees. Hahaha! Based on your suggestion I actually emailed our extension office to ask about compost since… I don’t actually know any local master gardeners. Thanks for all of your suggestions!

  7. Hi I love your blog. I just did some pallets. I got them outside our local supermarket. All I have in them is strawberries just yet. They were very easy – just stand them up and nail some strips of wood along the bases of each ‘shelf’ – that’s the way I did it but I’m a beginner. After I did it I heard some people use weed fabric or plant fabric or something- sounds a lot easier. Either way I am pleased with mine as they double up as a windbreak to stop the fierce Galway wind blowing my peas into County Clare.

    • Thanks! That’s a great suggestion. I’m jealous, I’ve tried to grow strawberries a couple of times but they are kind of difficult here. I guess there are a couple of varieties that do okay, but for the most part it’s a short growing season for them. I’d love to see pictures of your pallets and strawberries, do you have any on your blog?

  8. Something to consider is how the top shelves will shade the lower ones and either compensate with putting shade tolerant plants lower or by angling it so the lower shelves are farther out and won’t be shaded.

    • That’s an excellent point! Fortunately the angle of the sun is going to help me out on this one. Because of their placement they should be out of the shade all through winter. In the summer time they will shade each other in June and the first part of July. I’m thinking I can live with that given the fact that the rest of the yard has full sun during that time, but maybe I should think on that more.

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