An experiment in vertical gardening


sunflowerFor the last few years I’ve grown Sunflowers with various varieties of climbing bean growing up them. I tried this out of pure curiosity as a means of using the vertical space that the sunflower provides. After a few attempts the best combo that worked well in rainy Bolton was French climbing beans and the Russian Giant Sunflower variety. This combo achieved a healthy sunflower that stood at a height of around 12 feet with the beans reaching up to around 7 feet. At the end of the growing season there was a considerable amount of resources from the cropping of the sunflower and beans. I am not quite sure how this combo was quite so successful as Sunflowers are allelopathic, that is to say that they secrete chemicals to inhibit the growth of other plants around it.

The Sunflower stems were dried out for use as fuel, the seeds were used as a food source for both people and wild birds feed and some were saved for use in the following growing year, and the leaves were added to the compost The beans provided both a protein rich foodstuff and a seed supply for next year, the leaves, stems and pods from the beans provided good green matter for composting. This could be a good way of utilizing space in smaller gardens or backyards when trying to maximize yield within a limited area.



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