VERTICAL VEGETABLES: "Grow up" in a small garden and confound the cats!

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''How to solve a problem like cats digging and toileting in the vegetable patch'''''', and growing veg in a very small garden. I needed a solution and the answer occurred to me after watching The CheIsea Flower Show on TV and seeing walls of flowers and herbs. The only thing I had to hand was a hanging pocket shoe store and I decided to use it to grow my plants in. I have included the dates I took the photographs to give readers an idea how quickly the veg grew.
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Step 1: Materials needed

Picture of Materials needed
- Hanging pocket shoe organiser /store.
- Pole and attachments ( curtain pole or pipe fittings, screws).
- Strong metal saucepan or utensil hanging hooks
- Compost of a good quality moisture holding type.
- Selection of plants or seeds... e.g. mixed leaf salad, herbs,sorrel, peas, mini tomatoes.
- Piece of wood 2"x2" as long as the width of the pocket store to keep the base of pockets away from the wall.
- Trough planter to catch drips.

Step 2: Attach pole to shed or wall

Picture of Attach pole to shed or wall
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I attached a strong chrome pole with metal fittings to the shed.
You could use a curtain pole.
Make sure it is at the correct height especially if you want to grow plants in a trough below ( see step 7). This uses the surplus water from the pockets above.

Step 3: Attach hanging shoe store

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Use strong hooks or wire to attach the shoe store. They must be strong enough to support the weight of the compost, plants and water.

Step 4: Test drainage

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Pour water into the pockets to check the drainage, if they don't drain then make a few small holes in each of the pockets.

Step 5: Fill each pocket with compost

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Add a good moisture retaining compost, fill to 1" below the rim so that water does not pour out over the rim.

Step 6: Add plants or seeds

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Sow seeds or add seedlings I suggest....
- herbs thyme, sorrel, chives

- salad mixed leaf, mustard, cut and come again, or spinach

- minibel tomatoes

- 'petit pois peas you can eat the young leaflets and tendrils

Step 7: "Drip Aid"

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Use a piece of wood to make sure the excess water drips into the trough below.
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The strap ties are not attached to the wall by anything but gravity-- I can't drill into the wall, so they are just bent in a hook shape. The strap ties have holes for mounting hardware, and so I used heavy duty nylon twine to sew the strap ties to the fabric. It's held up well so far, but probably needs more support between the ties to keep it from buckling in the middle as much. There's a link at the top of my comment-- go there to see more images of what I did.
lyeshea2 years ago
How messy is this?

In september I'm moving from a house with a yard to an apartment. I'm trying to figure out if I could modify this to be an indoor project and get some green inside my new apartment.

Do you have a patio or balcony Why not against the apartment wall? need sun o grow light. Do have dripping on ground.
Good luck
bbpiglet72 years ago
Hello - fab to see great ideas come from Britain! Many forums/sites I come across are American and have brilliant information on them, but nevertheless, as a fellow Brit, I take my hat off to you and will definately be trying this :) Here's hoping for some sunshine........
My husband and I just installed some of these in our back yard and we love it. We just mounted it with screws to our fence. We also pre-soaked our soil and it has helped a lot.

Thanks for the great idea!
jessimata5 years ago
note: if you are at all considering eating the fruits of your labor; there are natural fertilizers and companion plants to aid in pest control instead of the chemical stuff.
so what plants would you recommend to help in pest control?
do you plant them in the same pockets or would you plant them around all the outer pockets, thereby providing a kind of barrier?
marigolds, mix of herbs, things that would attract birds that like bugs, or bugs that eat other bugs. I always noticed the more mix of plants the better chemistry between everyone of them.
I have read that if you combine certain plants together aka companioning it is a natural way to ward of certain pests. For example you should combine 3 basil plants per one tomato plant. Not only do you keep pests down you save space in your garden and have a slight basil undertone taste in your tomatoes :) Look up companion planting as an organic solution to pesticides.
usually fragrants or allums (onion garlic chives) or grow some reallllly hot peppers and dry or grind them and mix(also with a glove of garlic?) let the mixsteep in the sunin a glass closable jar. like a un clasped glass flip top then strain/dilute with a drop of soap and spray it on. but label and put this stuff up. and dont use during the flowering season if you looking to have it polenated
no chenicl stuff, very good,being organic vegetable
feeorin2 years ago
Marigolds are excellent pest control, also adding a mix of different herbs help, adding flowers help birds that like buggies find the place too. Plenty of options!

I am struggling since I moved to a totally new climate than I am used to. Most of my life in a desert, new how to grow there, or in the Military, but now I am in a condo, small lanai (porch sort of) lots of shade in my area. I have one pocket of sun however the homeowners association is so terribly picky about these things, so I am pondering how to make them happy, yet provide vertical growing space for me.

I dont have much for tools, might have to borrow, however I was thinking of making a "homeowners association" read: pretty enough to make the people that have naught better to do than pick on people trying to add beauty in plants and vegi's happy. Perhaps a wooden variation of this? if I could find enough scrap wood, perhaps I can paint it with some "green" paint that wont leech into the plants, then hope that will work. Not simple, but I have no other solutions *sigh* Plenty of space in the shadow area of the lanai but the veggies wont care for that so much.
Awesome idea, i'm an apartment dweller with not much space at home so this is a swell idea to do, thanks for sharing, I have the exact same shoe organizer that I can upcycle to this planter
tprobst22 years ago
Great idea for hot area like Texas can move in and out when to hot, also great for the kids to do, homeschooling always looking for ideas, thanks. We will be getting back to you with pics when done, on facebook.
aliceaod2 years ago
This is an awesome idea. Thanks for posting. I see shoe racks at the thrift stores sometimes. Next time I'm picking one up. I wouldn't grow any food in containers that are not food-grade plastic, such as this, but that's just me. Flowers, sure but not food. I'd be more inclined to stick plants in pop bottles and then put the pop bottles into this for vertical gardening.
grammaelso3 years ago
wow--what a great idea--all I have is a balcony-- but I do have a wall to hang this on--I priced some pockets but they were costly--this looks great--thanks!!!
frelnc3 years ago
Hello, Pippa. Had to sign up as a member here so I could congratulate you on your wonderful idea. I have one of those things hanging on my bathroom door with 3 pairs of shoes in it. The rest of my shoes are in a neat row in another room. Now I can use it for something useful in my postage stamp of a garden! Thanks so much for this brilliant idea - and the others that took root when I viewed your lovely little garden - ALL containers! I love that. Hope to see others posts from you. Thanks again! Fabulous idea!

WUVIE3 years ago
What a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing!
mrfoltz3 years ago
Great Ideal!!!! I'm trying this, this winter inside.. I got the shoe bag for $1 at the dollar store and I'm going to put plastic cups in them [so not to make a mess] I got 20 cups for 50 cents for 5....
I think it will come in handy to cover the outside of my brick fireplace that warms up the house in the summer too much???

THANKS for the great ideal.. I've passed it on to several people!!!!
avaughan13 years ago
wow pippa I just have to say your 1 smart cookie...I took your idea and ran with it... literally..I now have 6 shoebag planters hanging on my balcony wall///take a look.. Thank you so much for this "smart" green idea
pippa5 (author)  avaughan13 years ago
i had a look at your blog thank you for telling me about it. You really have gone to town with growing stuff and enjoying it too. thank you for sharing what you have done and good luck experimenting with what to grow
Hi pippa

Just wondering what the material is that your shoe organizer is made of ?
We have some plastic and some fabric. What would you suggest?
kelia3 years ago
The tomatoes probably didn't work out so well since they have large roots and are deep water drinkers.. Rosemary should do well. This is a great idea. I have a gazebo who lost its canopy I hang planters filled with flowers and vegetables from it now
Smaridge014 years ago
I'm terribly late in finding your very excellent idea, but I wanted to add one more benefit of this vertical garden... INSULATION!  Each wall that you hang this on gets the advantage of insulation from the hot sun!

I live in Florida, and the idea of a living wall, to absorb the heat of the sun and add more green to the home, is not new.  But this is a new idea for ways to get it done.  I love it.  Good job.  

Now I am going outside to look at my hottest, most sun-exposed walls and ponder your vertical garden.
I'm in coastal MS, and curious: did you try it and if so, did your plants survive the heat? How frequently did you have to water/did you have an automatic system?

My frustration with growing in containers is that lately I have to water almost every day... you'd think the humidity would keep it from evaporating so quickly.
i live on gulf coast, and i have to water mine every other day- its my herb garden, in partial sun on my patio. but even though i have to water often, i dont have to water very much, because there is no competition for the water- no weeds and so little soil in each pocket. mine has worked great for over a year now.
I never did try it. It became part of a long list of neat ideas that I guess is waiting for me to win the lottery or retire. =D
octapoda3 years ago
i did this as my herb garden last summer, and they have been prolific. great for small root systems, never have to weed and no bug problems either. i love the way my patio walls look covered with lavender and parsley...:)
vmokoena3 years ago
Wow! More can be done with containers.... Wonderful concept.
d1ndian3 years ago
awesome job
csantiago33 years ago
I love the idea!!!! thanks <3
Love! Love! Love this! I can't wait to try it out this weekend!
EmKay733 years ago
So, I have the cover for one of those garment racks and it has pockets on 2 sides--and it's already taken apart. I can't decide whether to make 2 long hangers or a couple of saddles for over my porch railings! I could do ornamentals/flowers on one side and herbs on the other! Oh the possibilities!
dianaw EmKay733 years ago
That is a GREAT idea! (the saddle- ornamentals on one side-)
Very good Idea! I'll try it this summer with herbs :-)
This would be a great way to grow peppermint! As many have found out the hard way, once peppermint takes root in your yard or garden, it can grow like crazy and you'll never get rid of it. This would prevent that from happening.

You could also make a hanging flower garden on the side of your house or garage. What a fun project!
my husband got rid of all my peppermint, by mowing it weekly. it took two years, and I'm sad but he did it. I'll try something like this. he can't "accidentally" mow a vertical herb garden. LOL
agatornz4 years ago
great idea - what material is yours made from and how long does it last before the outdoors and water get to it?
pippa5 (author)  agatornz4 years ago
Glad you like the idea. I cannot say how long it will last . I moved house last summer so had to take everything out of the garden and its in storage. I have a larger patch this year and a poly tunnel so unless the cat are a problem I may not need to use this idea again.
Garden Beet5 years ago
Pippa - i love this idea too - I am in the Uk and sell wally pockets which are made from recycled plastic  - you have already had them mentioned but it was to the US website - not taking away from your idea - it is great - but the wally pockets will overcome the problem of increasing plant size, installing a green wall over a larger area and product robustness -
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