Garden Up

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I’m constantly challenged by the limited gardening area in my yard, so I’m always perusing magazines and talking to other growers to come up with creative ways to maximize space. Even raised beds would likely take up too much room.

So when my neighbors gave us some faux terra-cotta window boxes they weren’t using, I brainstormed more ways to garden up, better known as vertical gardening. I also want our lettuce and spinach up off the ground and away from the ravenous critters who snack on our greens.

The plastic window boxes clash with the slate blue-and-white color scheme of the house, so I didn’t want to actually use the window boxes by the windows. But the boxes did look nice against the six-foot-high wooden fence that surrounds the backyard. My mother (who lives downstairs in the lower flat of our duplex) and I put our heads together, and we came up with a way to mount the boxes decoratively onto the fence. We chose a fence panel that gets the most sunlight for the project.

We found a bracket in the basement, and my fiancé, Doug, purchased another bracket to match. After spray painting the brackets black to give them a decorative touch, we mounted one bracket inside each sturdy post at each end of the fence panel. A board in the garage was trimmed to fit the length of the fence panel. We rested the board in the brackets and secured it with screws.

With the board in place, we drilled mounting and drainage holes into the backs and bottoms of the window boxes. We lined up the mounting holes against the board and marked and drilled the holes for the screws. We then screwed the window boxes to the board. Again, it was the neighbors to the rescue, who provided large washers we didn’t have on hand. (Note to self: check supplies next time before starting another D.I.Y. project!) Once the lettuce flourishes into healthy green bunches, I will share it with the neighbors.

Then came the fun part – planting. To reduce weight in the window boxes and provide extra drainage, I scattered foam packing nuggets in a single layer on the bottom of the window boxes. I topped that with a few inches of organic soil, sphagnum peat moss and compost. I planted butter crunch and romaine lettuce varieties, and spinach.

We’ll likely mount more window boxes for planting other leafy veggies that tempt furry intruders. Now, to use that extra garden space….