Saturday, Nov 25, 2017
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

COMMENTARY

Add a veggie wall for a focal point

When it comes to elements in our landscape, gardeners always are looking for something that will cut down on the weeding and watering and help us reap our bounty with little effort. Oh, and we want it to look beautiful too.

So if you need a focal point in your landscape, a decorative barrier at the edge of the property, or a vegetable garden that is easy to take care of, then I've got a simple weekend project for you.

Byron Wynn is the project coordinator of the School Gardening Initiative for Toledo Botanical Garden and has come up with many innovative projects around the city. He has created unique garden spaces for area schools and his latest project is one you should try. I call it a veggie wall. "It is a self-buttressing wall that can be a vertical garden," Mr. Wynn said. "And it can be a beautiful element in the garden."

He built a four-section wall at the Oneida Greenhouse in downtown Toledo last summer with great success. "I think this solves a lot of design issues. If you plant the wall with lettuce, radishes, and other leafy greens, you can fill a plate of gourmet salad by they time you get from one end to the other," Mr. Wynn said.

Build it

Here are the supplies you will need: 4-by-4 posts, high tensile woven wire fence in four-foot sections, landscape cloth, heavy gauge wire staples, and a shovel.

Check your local building codes before you dig. After you confirm that you can build a four-foot wall in your yard and have confirmed with the utility companies that you are digging in a clear area, lay out your design on the ground first with a hose. "The hose will help you create that gentle curve," he said.

"Mark the location for the posts in the ground and dig a hole at least three feet deep so it will be below the frost line and not heave," he said.

Let the wire mesh curve gently between the posts. "There are two layers of wire fence that will be attached to the outside of the posts and the curve helps keep the wall strong," Mr. Wynn said. "Now you have a cavity that is four feet tall, about six feet wide and four inches deep to plant."

Before you start filling it with soil, Mr. Wynn has another genius idea. "Line the inside of the cavity with black landscape cloth. This will hold the soil in, and make it really easy to plant on the outside."

Fill the lined center of your self-buttressing veggie fence with potting soil. Mr. Wynn suggests adding some compost in the mix for fertilizer.

Planting

Once you get the fence filled with soil, you are ready to plant. "This is the fun part," he said. "You can add any low growing plant on your wall. If you plant them in clusters on the fence, it also creates a very beautiful palette of color. Last summer, I planted this wall with various herbs and lettuces.

"It can easily be watered with a drip hose on top." Once the ground thaws, you can start making plans for a veggie wall of your own. For winter protection, Mr. Wynn simply covered the wall with clear plastic and held it in place on top of the fence with a plastic cap.

"I can't wait to try even more types of plants like strawberries, this summer."

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.

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