In part one of this series on gardening, I discussed how you can get started. For those of you interested in gardening, but feel intimidated due to lack of space — think again. Welcome to the fast-growing world of vertical gardening, the perfect solution for achieving a highly productive garden when limited by ground space.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of vertical gardening and give you some easy tips that will have you on your way to gardening up!
The Prophet said, “If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
The concept of vertical gardening, growing your plants creatively up along tall structures instead of across the ground, is nothing new. Even as early as 5,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians maintained plant-covered walls.
And I am sure that many of you have hanging baskets both inside and outside your homes. That is just one example of taking your plants to greater heights.
Benefits of Vertical Gardening
This method of gardening allows for numerous plants to thrive in a limited space. The elevation provides convenience and accessibility for all gardeners. Pruning and assessing for pests become much easier. Being above the ground provides more air circulation around the plants, and thus more resistant to mildew, fungus and disease. As an added bonus, vertical gardens can be used in creatively hiding objects and surfaces that may be less pleasing to the eye.
In addition, many areas that we want to grow edibles in have such contaminated soil that it may not be safe to grow herbs, fruits and vegetables. With vertical gardening, you can opt for designs that use various types of containers that can be filled with prepared or purchased garden soil that is healthier and cleaner. This allows for the opportunity to grow nutritious food that is not in contact with possibly contaminated ground. This not only saves you time and money when you can grow your own food, but it also gives you the confidence of knowing where your food comes from.
As with any type of gardening, you are going to need sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours each day. With this in mind, you will have to design your garden strategically so the higher plants do not cast shadows that will block sunlight from reaching the lower ones.
You also need to be mindful of the amount of water required by your plants. The exposure to wind and sun will cause them to dry out faster than plants that are growing directly in the soil. An eco-friendly and cost-saving solution for meeting your increased watering needs is to purchase a rain water collection-barrel that can be connected directly to your rain gutters.
One key component to any vertical garden is a well-planned support system. Fortunately, there is a variety of creative options to choose from. Some that are most common include walls, fences, wire cages, trellises, tripods, pyramids, and pallets, and of course, combinations of any of these. You can also get creative with containers using anything from traditional pots to used plastic beverage bottles.
Some vegetable plants tend to excel in vertical gardens. A few of the most common plants that fall in this category are tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, pole beans, gourds, squash, pumpkins and melons. Interestingly Aisha , Ummul Mu’minin narrated:
“The Prophet used to eat melon with fresh dates, and he used to say: “The heat of the one is broken by the coolness of the other, and the coolness of the one by the heat of the other.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Going Vertical with Aeroponics
In addition to the traditional method of growing plants in garden soil, there are also aeroponics systems that have been designed for vertical gardening. Aeroponics systems can be used to grow vegetable, herbs and flowers using much less water than traditional gardening methods. Unlike traditional gardening, such systems do not have have a growing medium of soil or water such as hydroponics. Instead, they use water to merely deliver the added minerals to the roots of the plants, but the roots are not submerged in the water as they would with hydroponics.
There are large-sized aeroponic systems that can be found in airports, rooftops and commercial greenhouses, but also smaller units that are perfect for home use. This type of gardening is quite versatile because you can bring it indoors in the winter and produce your own herbs and vegetables with the use of grow lamps, or perhaps you can design a small greenhouse of your own.
Don’t Wait, Get Gardening!
Begin small and be creative. Find what works for you in your space, and soon you will be on your way to a productive gardening technique that will allow you to grow more flowers, herbs and vegetables than you ever thought possible. Try your best to utilize items that might otherwise be landfill-bound, such as empty plastic bottles, used pallets and more!
“And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and un-trellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” [Qur’an: Surah Al-‘An`ām: Chapter 6: Verse 141]
May you be inspired to find creative solutions to ensure a productive and beautiful garden in even the smallest of spaces, so you may appreciate the bounty that Allah has provided — vegetables and herbs for your body and lovely flowers that serve to remind us to appreciate the beauty of creation. Ameen.
“And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees — of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grape vines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.” [Qur’an: Surah Al-‘An`ām: Chapter 6: Verse 99]
The next article, In sha Allah, will cover Composting — a cost-effective and natural way to help you achieve optimal soil conditions in your garden. Meanwhile, give vertical gardening a try and let us know how it went.
We’d love to hear from you, so please do share your experience, tips or questions in the comments section below.
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