It goes without saying that green walls have positive effects on mental health, air quality and aesthics.
Choosing the right one:
There are many varieties of DIY vertical green wall kits available in the market. From the ones with fabric bags to plastic pots, which can be drilled into the wall or hooked onto a fence. From free standing racks to smartphone controlled to extremely tech-savvy systems.
If I am doing it as an experimental exercise at home, I would choose a system I can control through my cellphone, especially for watering. This way I’ll be aware of the amount of water being used and the timings right at my fingertips. So, even if I’m running late someday, the plants don’t suffer. It’s all automated, yet affordable and neat.
Just be mindful of the size of pots, which is very essential. You don’t want to save money with very small pots and end up watering every few hours, as the moisture dries out faster in smaller pots, even if it’s automated.
My recommendation is to go for a minimum of 10–15 cm pot size or bigger.
Where to keep:
The location that receives the most sunlight during the day. This is best for plants with flowers and fruits such as; cherry tomatoes, dwarf chili, dwarf paprika, basil etc. The areas that receive mild sunlight, are best for the leafy greens like; mint, coriander, lettuce, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, lemon grass etc. You can also use grow-lights.
Now, there are kits that come with built-in irrigation systems. Some can be directly connected to the water tap, some come with small portable water tanks. Both may have batteries or can be connected to an electrical socket. The water is directly delivered to each pot through a dripping system. The amount of water for each pot/plant can be controlled by tightening the small drip valve. It may sound very technical, however it’s very easy, once you do it. And much of a pat-on-the-back feeling to look at it run.
Almost all vertical gardens share the same concept of water drainage, i.e. water is drained from the top of the system to the second and lower levels. The last level then releases all the extra water collected from the other levels. Two important points to be considered here:
- Drainage area under the vertical system (some systems come with trays, others require some DIY solutions like rectangular pots under the wall mounted system or built-in planter beds.
- Keep the moisture loving plants in the lower levels/pots.
You need soil which is rich in nutrients that also helps drain excess water while retaining just the right amount of moisture. This is the most important consideration when choosing soil mix. You don’t want the roots to rot or plants to be dehydrated or mal-nourished. You may choose: potting mix:peat moss:perlite with a ratio of 70:20:10.
Fertilizers are tricky, as they come in liquid as well as dry granular and tablet forms. The ratios vary depending on the size of the container, size of plants, temperature etc. Fertilizers can be mixed into your water tank directly or sprinkled over the soil with immediate watering.
Fertilizer + Irrigation= Fertigation! — Informative demo on Fertigation by Tricia
Always discuss fertilizers with your garden adviser. You don’t want to regret the consequence of burning your little babies you’ve been looking after all this time, with too much of it. However don’t be scared, it’s not rocket science. You just need to be tad bit of careful. That’s it!
Let the freshly sprouted leaves grow till an adequate size, then prune the biggest ones to encourage new growth. Replace the over grown plants. This will prevent clutter from over grown roots inside your pots. Clutter inside the soil slows down aeration and healthy growth of new sprouts. Remember to keep one plant per pot!