Why is there vertical growth?

No matter how crazy I am, I was inspired by the idea of ​​a DIY green wall a few years ago with a pallet I grabbed from the street. There were countless tutorials on YouTube on how to do this, and as the weekend projects went on, it was a fun and satisfying way to spend an afternoon – not to mention cleaning my kitchen counter of herbs from several pots.

But compared to La Grangette (lagrangette.com), which is a high-quality “home-farming experience,” the memory of my creative but casual effort seems rather shoddy. With the release of the first 100 pieces in the summer of 2022, La Grangette was conceived with the aesthetic sensitivity of Thibaut Pradier, the brainchild of the Italian and engineering firm Pininfarina.

The exclusivity of the product is not just a matter of an initial limited production line: the price of La Grangette starts at € 24,000 (£ 20,000). Nevertheless, Pradier’s vision is that one day a version of this product will be available in kitchens around the world. After all, he says, it was once unthinkable to have a refrigerator, dishwasher, and washing machine in most homes. Aviation was once ruled by the few. In the coming years, why shouldn’t a product like La Grangette be available to many?

It has been made for four years and has space for 64 plants on four shelves, La Grangette uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods and allows plants to grow two to three times faster than outdoors, as Pradier explains. in Grangette, there are no seasons and no adverse conditions. ” With a highly intuitive app, users can plan their meals according to what’s to be harvested and plant them based on what they’ll need in the coming weeks.

In addition to the visual appeal of the unit, both in terms of lush content and Pininfarina design, La Grangette also offers an organic home management system that is free of plastics, pesticides and zero air miles from picking to plating.

Green walls

“The benefits of plants to humans have long been known,” says Habib Khan, Director of Meristem Design (meristemdesign.co.uk). “Our motto is‘ we change from gray to green ’. But it’s not just about beautifying spaces; it is also about reducing the impact of pollution and improving prosperity. “

Vertical cultivation methods such as green walls – or living walls – are increasingly seen in urban spaces that suffocate concrete walls with foliage. As Khan notes, these are not just visually striking; they improve air quality, encourage biodiversity by attracting insects and birds, and help control urban humidity.

In addition, studies have shown that proximity to nature increases a person’s productivity, concentration, and mood, helping to reduce stress levels.

No wonder it is now installed regularly, not only in public areas but also in offices and homes. “Many of our clients have limited outdoor space and strive to make their environment greener while making an impact,” Khan explains.

Christine T, a retiree in south-west London, is one of them. “We have reduced the size from a large property with a garden to a smaller courtyard house,” he says. “I wanted vegetables, but without the masses of pots and flower pots taking up the floor space for tables and chairs – and that’s the ideal solution. It is about nine meters long and one meter high, and that is my pride and joy. ”

In the past five years since Christine T has had a green wall, “she has gone through several iterations, just as she can often change the color or wall of a room,” he explains. “Sometimes I say,‘ I want a little more of it, ’or‘ I’m not that keen on it, ’and we experiment accordingly.

By “we” we mean Meristem’s maintenance and gardening team: for an annual fee, they visit every few months to check the irrigation system and the health of the plants, and to replace those that have outgrown the space or have not blossomed. They also give advice on which plant species may be suitable for the particular shade and light conditions.

In terms of cost, Khan says, installing a living wall is around £ 500-600 per square meter and maintenance starts at around £ 1,200 a year.

“There are cheaper ways to green the wall,” he adds. “For example, if you’re looking forward to maximum results, you can use planters that contain fairly well-established wisteria, clematis, or jasmine with wire rope grids to grow.”

Homemade vegetables

Not all vertical growing systems require state-of-the-art equipment, but even outsourced installation and maintenance services, as certified by Mark Ridsdill Smith, also known as Vertical Veg Man (verticalveg.org.uk). Frustrated by the long allocation queues, he began experimenting with growing food on his balcony and said he “soon realized that most days we eat fresh, home-grown food”. In fact, he estimates he was able to grow about £ 900 worth of food from his balcony, window sills and a small front door concrete in a year.

Ridsdill Smith does not recommend the use of wooden pallets for his growing systems because they are heavy and full of shards – instead he recommends the use of plastic mushroom crates as well as the crates in which the supermarket vegetables are displayed.

“You just have to line them up with newsprint and fill them with compost. And if you want a more attractive, rustic look, you can often pick up nice wood products from market stalls. ”

Floor containers with plants adapted for wall climbing also work well. “You don’t even need a grid,” Ridsdill Smith points out. “I often use string – you can climb tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers, as well as blackberries and raspberries; even kiwis if you have enough days. ”

Even a ladder can be turned into a vertical garden – “very simple technology,” says Ridsdill Smith. “We just tilt it against the wall, which creates a hidden storage space and you can use the rungs as shelves for dishes. It is a useful option in an herb garden, as most herbs will be perennial, so there will always be attractive vegetation without having to replant it every year. ”

As for the influx of hydroponic systems, he acknowledges that all forms of cultivation are commendable, but points out that with hydroponics an important element of the process is lost. “You’re not so much connected to nature,” he says. “Insects and wildlife won’t visit you, you won’t feel the soil between your fingers.

“We all know that a relationship with nature is good for us. I see people in my workshops relaxing when they start putting their hands in the compost and sowing seeds. It’s a less clinical experience, more of a three-dimensional one. ”

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Bosco Verticale, Milan


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