Traditionally, bushmen are hunter / gathers. However, between the years of about 1950 through the 90′s, they tried their hand at farming due to governmental pressures to “modernize.” Although I’m not too certain on their method of farming, I recently came across the interesting concept of vertical / hanging vegetable gardens. Vertical gardening allows for one of the most efficient ways of watering plants, a huge benefit both here in the States and the most of the world. Another benefit to this style of gardening is that since the plants are in containers, the gardens themselves can be moved: either to meet the garden’s need for sun or to transport it from one place to another.
One of my favorite vertical gardens was from a guy on YouTube. He took 4″ PVC pipes and formed pockets along the side of them (this formed the individual planters) and hung them on his fence. I tried finding his video to share with you guys here, but was unable to find it again. So instead, I took some pictures of my vertical garden as I was building it and because I believe in recycling materials, I’m going to tell you where you can get 3″ tubes for free in most cases. Enjoy!
note: before I start, I want to explain that I don’t give precise directions for two reasons. First off, it’s easier to write. Second and more importantly, this project DOES NOT require precision nor do you need me to tell you exactly how it’s “supposed” to be. I give you the general idea and you make it happen.
Also, please resist the temptation to run out and buy new tubes. Yes, buying new tubes is much easier than going to a tint shop and asking if you can have theirs, but try it. You may surprise yourself with the positive reactions you get from people when you explain to them what your intentions are. What’s more, recycling these tubes is super eco-friendly and helps preserve our natural resources.
DIY Vertical / Hanging Vegetable Garden:
First off, the materials you will need for this project:
- heat gun (to form pockets in plastic tubes)
- drill (to drill holes in plastic tubes and in framing material)
- a saw (to cut slits into the plastic tubes and cut the framing material)
- some screws (for building the frame)
- rope or twine at least 1/8″ in diameter (used to hang the tubes)
- 5 – 3″ diameter plastic tubes at least 3′ long (used as the main vertical garden planters)
- 12′ of 2×4 lumber (or any other material suitable to build a frame)
- a pair of leather work gloves (these will protect your hands when it’s time to form the heated tubes into planters)
- planter mix (soil for the planter chambers)
- a pack of your favorite shallow rooting vegetable seeds (I chose lettuce)
- about two hours of your time
Step 1: The Tubes
- Acquire free tubes: I recently got my truck windows tinted at a local window tint shop. While I was waiting, I watched as the workers threw away these 3′ – 5′ plastic tubes. Apparently, the tint film comes rolled on these tubes and they are discarded after use. I explained to the shop owner what I had planned to do with them and ask if I could take a few. He was more than happy to give me as many as I needed. Infact, he agreed to save them for me if I wanted more in the future. Awesome.
- Drill holes on top of the tube so that you can later hang these tubes from the frame. Drilling the holes now will also help you identify the top of the planter tubes.
- Now, starting at the top of the tube, measure of approximately 10″ sections of the tube. This is where the pockets will be formed.
- Using a saw, cut the tubes halfway through. This will become the opening of the individual pockets.
- Now, using the heat gun, heat the plastic tubes just above the slits you cut. Once it’s pliable, use your gloved hands to push it in, forming something that resembles the top of a cave.
- Repeat instruction #5 until all the pockets have been formed. Step 1 is now complete and your tubes are ready for hanging.
Step 2: The Frame
- Cut your 2×4′s or other framing material and build a rectangular / square frame. Make sure it’s high enough to for the planter tubes to hang from and sturdy enough to stand on it’s own (reference finished garden picture below). Step 2 finished.
Step 3: The Assembly
- This step is pretty simple. All you have to do is use your twine / rope to hang the vertical garden tubes on the frame.
- Fill pockets with potting soil and seed with your favorite vegetable. Ideally, you’ll want shallow rooting vegetable like lettuce.
- Water and wait indefinitely. Step 3 done.
That’s it. You’re ready to produce vegetables in a relatively small area. One thing I noticed. When I water the planters, if I start at the top of the tube and water slowly, the water will eventually drip through all the chambers and come out the bottom. Perhaps someone out there can come up with a cool way to make this a self watering system. But for now, that’s all I got. If I come up with anything to improve this planter idea, I’ll post an update.
Thanks for your time and happy gardening!~ John, Modern Bushman>