It’s been a bit slow regaining my blogging mojo after a rocky start to the year and the fact that our internet has been torturously slow for the best part of a month has added to my slow return.
Australia’s leading telco has a lot to answer for and our recent technical support experience, which only ended yesterday I might add, has been nothing short of frustrating. Over the last month the tortoise lapped us several hundred times as we were shuffled from person to person, department to department and more than likely, country to country. I can’t recall how many times we had to relay the same story to each of the dozen or so people we spoke to and I dare not mention the bit where we had to fork out over $100 for a new modem we possibly didn’t even need. Got the picture?
Anyway, after a gruelling two hour hookup yesterday afternoon I’m pleased to advise that our internet is back running at normal speed and it feels good to finally be back behind the wheel. At least there’s been a positive side to all of this and that is that I’ve had some time to think about some of the topics I want to cover this year.
While I have no idea where this blog is going in the long term, I’m going to do my best each week to fill a page with a story and pictures while covering some aspect of our sustainable life as urban food growers, conservationists and Permaculture crusaders.
Small space gardening is a big interest for us city dwellers at the moment and we’ve had quite a bit of interest in our vertical garden. As we’ve found, growing a garden up instead of out is an efficient use of limited space and the twenty four small five inch pots in our vertical garden have been very productive, providing us with not only a great variety of plants but producing a surprising amount of food from very small, and what would have otherwise been an under-utilised area.
So far we’ve grown quite a variety of veggies and herbs but in spring I had the idea to create a summer vertical salad bar. I decided on a range of easy picking lettuce leaf varieties which are preferable over headed lettuces because they continue to grow if only a few of their outer leaves are picked at a time. They also mature more quickly and are usually ready to eat in about 6 to 7 weeks.
I started most of my lettuces from seeds and established them in smaller pots before transferring them straight into the five inch pots that are used in this system. Each pot has a geo fabric wick threaded through a hole in the base and this dangles down into the water reservoir below. I fill my pots with home made potting mix and water in well to encourage the wicking action and then mulch the tops to minimise evaporation. Before too long the outer leaves are ready to pick and having a variety of leaf lettuces and other salad greens spread across twenty four pots means that you only need a couple of leaves from a few plants to make up a salad. Suitable varieties include romaine, mini cos, freckles, green oak, mizuna, baby spinach and rocket.
Putting this type of vertical garden together isn’t difficult and once you have the materials it can be constructed and erected over a weekend. Because it’s essentially a self-watering system, it is very easy to maintain and only requires a top-up of water in the stormwater pipe reservoir every few days.
Our little vertical garden has been flourishing with goodness and often catches the eye of visitors to our garden. It not only looks good but it works, so well in fact that we’ve decided to show others how to build one as part of the living skills workshops run through our local Permaculture group. So hopefully next summer there’ll be plenty of other people enjoying the benefits of their very own vertical salad bar.
Stay tuned for my next update on….stage III of our Permaculture garden.