Outdoor Vertical Farming: How to do it With Examples6 min read

Someone is always thinking of a new and more efficient way to do everyday things. If you are into gardening or farming, you may have heard about indoor vertical farming. How can you build a vertical farm outside?

There are multiple methods for building an outdoor vertical farm, such as a tower, a shelf, or even a wall. Constructing a vertical farm saves space, reduces water usage, and produces more. However, a vertical garden will require more care and maintenance than a horizontal farm.

Vertical farming, while primarily used in a controlled greenhouse, has begun to take over outdoor gardening as well. The many benefits of a vertical garden have attracted the attention of farmers all around the world. Are you ready to pursue this new gardening technique? This article will explain how to build and maintain your outdoor vertical garden.

How To Build a Vertical Farm

According to a local gardening shop, vertical planting is becoming more popular. Many plant lovers are converting to the “vertical method” of gardening. However, there is not just one method for vertical farming.

The first method grows plants on the side of a building or wall. The vertical garden wall is an excellent choice for farmers operating in more urban areas or areas with limited space. You can only grow certain plants on a vertical garden wall. These plants include lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, and onions. Other plants will require a horizontal bed for growth.

Does building a vertical wall farm interest you? Check out this video to see how!

Not only do wall gardens save space, but they can also make the outside of your walls more decorative. Depending on the size of your wall, you may only consider growing herbs in your wall garden.

There are many different forms of vertical walls available for you to build. If the vertical garden wall shown in the video is not your style, try another vertical garden wall tutorial.

Vertical farming can also take place out in the field rather than on a wall. Vertical farmers use what they refer to as “the tower” for planting out on their land.

A vertical garden tower is an A-frame structure lined with NFT channels for gardening. Most use these NFT channels for window garden boxes; however, they are the perfect material for vertical farming.

Check out the vertical garden towers on this farm in the following video!

As you learned in the video, this type of vertical garden can be used for growing tomatoes, strawberries, squash, onions, and so much more!

This gardening structure ensures each of the plants receives ample sunlight. When watering, the tower’s shape allows for better water dispersal, especially with the use of an over-the-top irrigation system.

Other vertical farmers take a different approach to building their vertical gardens. Many indoor vertical gardens are just garden beds set on shelves. Farmers have taken inspiration from these indoor vertical farms and applied it to outdoor gardening.

Take a look at this outdoor vertical garden shelf in the video below!

If you do not have the time or resources to build a shelf like this one, you can purchase a wire shelf from your local big box store. Some thrift shops may sell wire shelves as well.

Build a frame the size of each shelf and line the bottom with landscaping fabric. Set each frame on the shelves and fill it with well-draining soil. If you water your plants from the top-down, excess water will be able to drip from layer to layer. With this in mind, it would be wise to plant crops that need less water to survive on the bottom shelf.

Vertical gardening using the shelf method is perfect for all kinds of crops! Your only limitation is the climate in which you reside.

There is no one way to build a vertical garden. The method you choose for your vertical farm will depend on the amount of space you have, the types of crops you plan to grow, and the resources you have at your disposal.

As you perfect your vertical gardening skills, you may try each of the different farming structures. Over time, you will find the farming technique that works best for you and your circumstances.

Now that you have built your vertical farm, you need to know how to care for it. 

How to Maintain a Vertical Farm

Like any other garden, you need to water your vertical garden frequently. How you choose to water your crops will depend on the type of vertical farm you have chosen.

Water your vertical wall with a mister attachment on your hose. If your vertical wall extends beyond your reach, you may need to purchase an extended hose attachment.

You could use this same watering technique for vertical farming towers; however, on a large scale, this seems highly time-consuming. Use either drip irrigation or an overhead sprinkler irrigation system.

You can use these two watering techniques for vertical farm shelves as well. Some farmers have even built aquaponics irrigation systems into their vertical farm systems! Get creative with how you water your vertical farm.

No matter what watering method you choose, vertical farming will use less water than horizontal farming. Horizontal farming methods allow much of the water used to soak far into the ground. With vertical farming, the irrigation system directs all water to the crops and their roots systems. This direct watering reduces nearly all the water waste!

Other than watering outdoor vertical farms, maintenance is similar to ground-level gardens. You will need to pick weeds from your garden beds every so often.

You will likely need to replace the soil in the garden beds each season. At the end of the season, you do not have to worry about rotating your crops! Since the crops were never actually planted into the ground, they have not stripped the local soil of its nutrients.

As you can tell, building and maintaining an outdoor vertical garden will require more time and money than a ground-level farm. However, after all that hard work, you can reap the benefits of larger crop output and variety!

Mateusz Piechowiak

Hey. I'm Matt. In 2019 I stumbled upon the concept of vertical farming and since then it became my passion. I built in my home my own mini vertical farm to have access to fresh homegrown vegetables as well as to explore the subject of growing in a controlled environment. My goal is to spread the idea of vertical farms because I strongly believe that they can change the world for the better.

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