By Penny Woodward

The Gro Wall fits neatly into my seed raising area, taking up very little space

The Gro Wall fits neatly into my seed raising area, taking up very little space

For the last few months I have been experimenting with a Gro Wall. I have been pretty unimpressed with the many different systems for growing plants vertically to make the most use of limited spaces. They all looked pretty high maintenance (especially for water) and most seemed to be only suitable for growing succulents and other similar tough plants. This Gro Wall impressed me with the ease with which it can be put together and the large pots that should allow me to grow herbs and vegetables relatively easily, so I decided to test it out.

It needed to be positioned so that it was easy to access and in a spot where I would remember to water it. So my seed raising area seemed like a good spot. The only drawback was that it was side on to the light. This would mean that those pots on the right of the wall would get much more sun than those on the left. One way of overcoming this problem would be to plant sun loving herbs and vegies on the right, and shade loving on the left, the other is to move the pots on a regular basis so that all pots got equal light. One of the joys of this system is individual pots are easy to move, slotting in and out like drawers.


Vertical wall using a grow wall

This vertical gardening system is easy to construct and the pots are big enough to grow herbs and vegetables

Gro Wall filled with good potting mix

Each pot was carefully filled with good potting mix supplemented with compost and organic fertiliser

Seeds are sprouting.

I mostly planted seeds straight into the pots.

The quality of the potting mix determines the end product. So I made my own mix by combining a good regular potting mix (five ticks from the Australian Accreditation body) and then added my own compost and organic pelletised fertiliser. I don’t use any potting mixes with water crystals as these are not organic. I decided to plant most of the pots with seeds, and the third picture above shows these sprouting. I filled the pots and planted the seed on the 14th of October, the picture on the right was taken on 31st of October. I took the final picture below on the on 1st of December 2012.

A month of growth

After a month some things are ready to harvest

The seed and seedlings planted are cucumber across the top, I hope to train these up the trellis behind. Unfortunately since this photo was taken, a slug ate the middle cucumber so I now only have two. The second row, L to R ¬†are radishes, beetroot and basil ‘Minette’. The radishes were great for their spicey leaves but didn’t form any useful bulbs. Next time I will plant a smaller growing round form rather than the big French Breakfast. The beetroot and basil are still growing. If the beetroot doesn’t look like producing useful bulbs then I will just eat the leaves.

The third row was sown with a salad mix and I harvested lots of lovely crunchy leaves for salads, and there are still some left. Row four was planted with garlic chives at either end, and coriander in the middle. The garlic chives are doing really well and will soon be big enough to pick some leaves. I managed to pick some young coriander until it too became a victim of the slug (I found the slug and fed it to the chooks and have had no troubles since). I have since replanted the coriander pot with red lettuce seed.

I sowed row five with Chinese cabbages and mustards (a seed mix from Yates) and harvested lots of young leaves before the cabbage moth caterpillars crept under my guard and decimated the crop. I have since removed them and replanted with red lettuce and some lemon basil.

In the final row I planted two ball zucchini seedlings. They are flowering but so far have not produced any zucchini. In the middle I planted water cress, but this also fell victim to the slug. I have not yet replanted this pot.

Over all I have found this a very rewarding and useful trial. What would I do differently?

I would install a watering system from the beginning (relatively easy to do but I just didn’t have time to do it when I first set the whole thing up.).The pots can be watered without a watering system but it can be hard to get the water evenly into the whole pot.

I would plant more micro crops, plan to harvest them young and just plant more seed when harvested.

I would plant more herbs like thyme, marjoram and prostrate rosemary for long term use.

I would keep a better watch for pests like slugs and cabbage moth caterpillars.

I will report back again in a couple of months.

Finally, I highly recommend this system for anyone with limited space who wants to grow a vertical garden with vegetables and herbs. To find out about purchasing a Gro Wall go to the Gardens and Things website