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5 common rookie errors new urban farmers make [and how to avoid them]

You’ve made the big decision: you’d like to start your own vertical herb garden, but what do you need to know to get started?

Planting your first vertical garden may seem daunting, but it’s a lot simpler than it looks.

One of the benefits of growing vertically with GrowUp is that it’s a “no-green-thumbs-required” method of growing your own fresh produce: you don’t need to have a vast knowledge of gardening techniques to enjoy a delicious harvest of your very own organic crops - as long as you know the basics.

Whether you’d like an indoor garden for easy access to fresh herbs in your kitchen, or something beautiful inside or out, you can follow these simple tips to help your plants grow lush and healthy from the start.

Here’s a list of five common rookie errors new urban farmers make, and how to avoid them, to get the best results from your first vertical garden harvest.

Neglecting soil nutrients

If you thought planting a seed and remembering to water it was all there is to gardening, think again! Whilst plants can survive on water alone, if you want your crops to grow lush and full, you’ll need to ensure they’re well fed too.

Growup vertical farming | hands planting a seedling

Image source: Compost Pedallers

Adding compost to their soil is a fast and simple way to ensure your plants are receiving the right nutrients. Compost should be readily available from your local garden centre, but you can also make your own using kitchen scraps and off-cuts. To see how easy it is to make your own organic compost, take a look at our post, How to make your own compost [in a small space].

Trying to grow crops too densely

When planting leafy greens, you’ll want to leave your crops space to fill out. It’s tempting to tightly pack your seedlings together to get a “fuller” look from the start - but this will inhibit their growth potential, yielding smaller crops in the long run. With our hexagonal system, you won’t need to do this to create a “full” effect from the get go.

Not pruning or “thinning”

Pruning (otherwise known as thinning) is done by clipping the smaller sprouts on your plants. These little offshoots sap the nutrients from the main plant, and if they’re not removed, will restrict the growth of your crops. As soon as your seedlings begin to develop into mature plants (a couple of inches high) you need to start pruning.

Under-sowing seeds

Not every seed will sprout into a viable seedling, in fact only between 40% to 80% of seeds (depending on the plant) will germinate, and develop into seedlings. If you’re planting from seeds, you’ll need to invest in a couple of trays, and plant two to three seeds per slot in the container. Once they sprout into seedlings, you can transplant these into your green wall system.

Growup vertical farming | seedling tray

Image source: Espace Pour La Vie

Planting too many of the same crop

Nature is inherently diverse. When you plant too many of the same crop, you lose the benefits of this biodiversity. Companion planting (or crop pairing) is a handy trick to ward off unwanted pests and disease. This will help lessen the need for any poison or pesticides, keeping your vertical garden in top shape. Herbs like Oregano, when planted amongst other crops, act as a deterrent to pests like aphids, who are notorious for destroying vegetable and herb gardens.

By following these simple tips, you’ll have a constant supply of fresh, organic herbs and leafy greens in no time!

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Featured image source: Interface Design Space