The Vertivore's Edible Green Wall

If I was to draw a Venn diagram showing the overlap of my gardening and landscape interests, you'd probably find edible green walls smack in the center, next to medieval Japanese stonework and my fig tree.

Oh look, I did.

Up to this point I've mostly written about green walls as an ornamental element, but vertical space is also a terrific place to grow an edible garden. My long term goal for our own property is to place an edible component within three or four steps anywhere on our acre. We're lucky to have so much room, but with the continuing trend of urbanization and smaller lots, many people don't have the room to grow greens and veggies conventionally. But if you've got a wall, there's a way.

Skyfarm: Gordan Graff

Optimistic futurists love to present us with images of a biophilic, urban paradise not too far away.  Heavy on stunning visuals and light on actual details, this hazy vision usually includes rendered images of urban agriculture on the walls and rooftops of the city skyline.

Part of a larger concept called Agriculture 2.0, this discussion of urban of food production rarely takes into consideration some of the problems that need to be solved to make this vision real.

Soil based green wall systems, for example, are very heavy, requiring serious engineering for the support armature.  GLTi's 2,380 square-foot living wall in Pittsburg has an estimated weight of 24 tons when fully saturated. Some have even described this kind of urban farming as financially nonsensical.*

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense, if the design challenges can be addressed. To that end I started experimenting a few years back (successfully, I might add) with a lightweight mineral wool system.

So far, we've grown nasturtiums, chard, tomatoes and dozens of varieties of herbs including rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, basil and oregano.

This year I plan to try out collard greens, rainbow chard, spinach, rapini and cabbage.

Rest assured I'll be sharing pictures of our edible green wall through the season.

*But the author seems to have some internal conflict on the matter as demonstrated by this article.