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Author shares virtues of vertical gardening

By Staff | Nov 19, 2009

Psst. Have you heard? Gardening is in vogue.

Between the First Lady Michelle Obama encouraging children to learn to garden coupled with a growing desire to eat healthier and cheaper while saving the environment, gardening is increasing in popularity.

But what if one wants to cultivate a garden but does not have the space for it?

Worry not.

Think vertical gardening.

Vertical gardening is growing plants up rather than out.

Gardening author and part-time Sanibel resident Derek Fell has a possible new book in the works about vertical gardening.

Two weeks ago he attended a Congressional meeting to discuss creating programs for children to learn gardening at school.

Fell who spends his time between Pennsylvania and Sanibel had at one time been appointed chairman of the Committee to former President Gerald Ford’s initiative to plant a garden at the White House. At the time President Ford had been looking to save money during the Vietnam war, Fell said. Though the garden plan got scrapped, the concept lay in wait. And now that wait is over as First Lady Michelle Obama encourages children to learn how to garden, Fell said.

So with the initiative in place, Fell is working to make gardening accessible through vertical planting.

“I advocate vertical gardening,” he said. “It’s labor saving.”

In order to create a vertical garden a narrow strip of land is needed

Fell created a special system for making vertical gardens called the Skyscraper Garden. The system works by letting growers use an easy-to-assemble kit that contains two cedar brackets, a sturdy metal crossbar, a strong 4 feet wide by 6 feet high section of netting that includes reach-through mesh for easy picking, and ground anchors to hold the netting taught.

Produce such as tomatoes, climbing cucumbers, climbing spinach and pole beans do well in a vertical garden.

“It’s a very sensible way for people who do not have a lot of time or space,” Fell said.

Fell said with the cooler winter season underway on the islands, vertical gardening is ideal for folks who would like to plant some veggies but have smaller lots.