Vertical Gardening On Slope

After our seedlings had matured, we needed to build a garden to put them all in. Our Thai neighbours devised a genius way of utilizing space on our shared land by creating a large trellis on slope so we decided to take their initial design, and push it further by creating mini terraces underneath the climbing trellis. 

photo (3)Whilst the picture does not portray the intensity of the slope, it is steep, rocky, sandy, and hard land to work with.You could terrace the land, dig swales, or various other techniques, though the amount of work it would take thanks to the huge rocks in the subsoil would create much work – and frankly, that isn’t my thing, not one bit.

Instead of creating ditches to slow down water and to prevent erosion, we created semi-sunken planting holes all throughout the landscape – a random mosiac of sorts. As water runs through from high to low, the water will spill over to the plant next to it, and so on. In this way, we minimise erosion, maximise water, for what was 2 hours work, at most.

vertical planterTo simple steps of building this vertical planter goes:

1. Collect 10-12  long sticks (we found ours in the neighbouring forest)

2.  Dig a deep hole for the supporting sticks, making sure they are sturdy and will bear the load, then place in ground.

3. Build the outside of the structure first: a) the cross beam then b) the outer edge sticks.

We made up the construction as we went along and the structure that night, undertook a brutal wind but held together nicely! If you are going to attempt to build such a structure, make sure it is super stable before all else.

And after that, start planting! In small holes, tightly spaced, is the best way. The total area was no more then 10ft by 10ft, and I managed to squeeze in 40 or so plants, without removing of the native vegetation. It is much better to work the native species as opposed to removing them for countless reasons; and for me that main incentive is less digging.

A row of nitrogen fixing pole beans that will climb up the planter in time

A row of beautifully thriving nitrogen fixing pole beans that will climb up the planter in time

The best thing about this design in my opinion is the roof of the structure. At the top of the hill we planted squash and watermelons, which will be trained to climb along the roof of the trellis – those varieties enjoy the tropical sun. After a few months, the roof will be partially covered, so underneath the planter will be partly shaded! We planted underneath partial sun loving plants, like kale, mint, tomatoes to name a few.

In total we spent 2 hours constructing, and we’re a bunch of amateurs. Two people could easily put this up in one hour, planted in full. As it is the dry season in Thailand currently, we watered once every 2 days, which was more then enough for the plants, and was a 5 minute duty as the design and placement of the planter allowed for easy access and quick watering.

In 2 months, this garden will be in over-abundance for a total several hours work. For anyone doubting there green thumb abilities, remember plants grow themselves, all we have to do is plop them in the ground!

happy beans

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