I spent much of Saturday working on this monolith. Pretty ugly, right? It will get better, though. (Hopefully.) The reason for my creating this hideous, compost bin looking thing is actually experimentation in both vertical gardening and a bit of lasagna gardening. I’ve tried lasagna gardening before and had pretty good success. Lasagna gardening is basically planting over compost. You layer your items that you want to compost with a bit of soil and plant right into that. My first experience was prompted by necessity. I needed to get my cool season veggies in and I still had tomatoes in their spot. The compost bins were already full and I didn’t feel like making a run to the dump. So I pulled out the tomatoes, dug out the bed and then tossed in the chopped of plants followed by garden soil and some manure. I immediately planted directly on top. It worked! I did a bit of reading after that and found that planting on layered compost is actually a ‘thing’ and has been written about several times.
My new experiment combines the principles of composting/lasagna gardening with vertical gardening. A few weeks back I saw this post on how to grow a vertical lettuce garden on Pinterest. I looked simple enough so I decided to give it a try. Well, it isn’t easy. Especially if you are setting it up by yourself (OK, I must admit the dog did try to help a little. That only set me back further). I could have used an extra pair of hands. But I didn’t want to wait for that so I improvised. A few changes I made to the original design wereI placed the lettuce monolith right on the ground and actually dug it in a few inches for stability. I had noticed in one of the photos on the original blog, it was propped up with a piece of wood. I also pounded in a few pieces of rebar to make sure the dog doesn’t tip it over. The second change I made was substituting bark for gravel down the drainage tube. I didn’t want to have to sift the gravel out of the composted soil at the end of the season and I figured bark would give me the same drainage properties for at least one season. You use very little. I think I stuffed about 1/4 of a 2 cu. ft. bag down the tube.
I used 4 ft. fencing with 2″ x 3″ holes. The diameter of the monolith is about 2.5 feet. It holds a surprising amount of green material, dried leaves and soil and took me about 2 hours to fill. I’m sure it would have gone faster if I had already raked the leaves and piled up the green waste, but I was sort of cleaning and building. I’ve already decided that I want strawberries on the side that gets the most light and will do various types of lettuce the rest of the way. I may leave the back empty since it gets virtually no direct light. What will be planted on the top is yet to be decided.
What you need to build it:
4 foot piece of 3″ wide PVC or Flex-Drain Drain Pipe, Perforated, 4-Inch by 8-Feet
Leaves to be composted.