DIY

Homeowners: If these walls could talk

If you’re short of garden space but keen on herbs, let them climb the wall – either DIY it or employ an expert. Here we find out more.

WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGE: SUPPLIED

There are a number of very nifty wall systems for planting, so if you’re not a handyman or even green fingered, listen to Sean O’Connor, director of Living Green Walls.

“It’s best to stick with a reliable ‘living green wall’ system that has been designed or engineered to sustain any plants, especially edibles (herbs and vegetables). I would recommend using either the VertiPocket or the MVG plant wall system.”

Looking at the prices, these systems aren’t cheap, but if you’re committed to this for the long haul, it’s worth it. The VertiPocket is 1m long and 1,8m high, holds around 60 edible plants, and can be attached to almost any wall surface (starting retail price around R5,650).

The MVG system also attaches to most wall surfaces, is 1,2m long and 2,1m high, 60 pockets, and retails for around R8,700.

Care

“Edibles enjoy a lot of good natural light,” says Sean. Three to four hours a day of direct sunlight will suffice for their growth and flowering (fruiting). Watering is best done on a daily basis to keep the plants’ roots moist, especially if the plants are in direct sunlight. Having said that, most living wall systems have built-in water reticulation systems.”

Functional and good looking?

Sean isn’t convinced about the good-looking aspect. “You must decide for what purpose you want a planted wall. If you want to feed a family of four, for example, then it’s going to be a ‘functional’ vegetable-producing machine, rather than a beautiful feature that fits into a garden design or interior design. If you’re looking to install a planted wall for beauty’s sake, think twice about planting edibles.”

Can we companion plant in this?

“Absolutely,” says Sean. “We often refer to that genre of planting as ‘herbaceous plants’ (some edible, some not). Companion planting is key to keeping pests away, but get the advice of your local nursery on what plants to use for specific herbs.”

Certain plants are really disliked by pests, and if you companion plant cleverly, you can end up with few invaders – the ideal solution for edible plants.

Keep the wall looking good

It’s not easy when you’re constantly picking for the table. Sean says if you’re creating an edible planted wall that really works for you, it’s best to get a good understanding of what grows best each season. “Then focus on replanting your living wall every season for best results and production. For example, basil grows well in the summer months, but after it has flowered and the cooler winter months kick in, most basil plants start to die back. It’s best at this point to remove the plants from the system, and plant a winter growing seeding like spring onions, kale or lemon thyme.”

He adds, “It’s best to avoid plants with deep root systems and bulbous plants (like onion, beetroot and potatoes). Herbs like sweet rocket, flat-leafed parsley and coriander, mint and strawberry are great options for living walls.”

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
Living Green Walls
079 907 1521
www.livinggreenwalls.co.za

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