Here's a great Vertical Garden design from Vertical Earth Gardens, perfect for space deprived farmers and fresh veggie lovers.
Vertical Earth Gardens was founded by Mark DeMitchell and Mike Tarzian, oringinally as a project to fit a garden in the limited space on the side of their northern San Diego home. With little space to grow out, they grew up, employing a hydroponic system that bloomed fresh veggies and a new business. Now DeMitchell and Tarzian build and maintain custom vertical gardens for their local customers.
By using hydroponics and a cascading system of pipes they are able to efficiently use space, light and water while not being limited to vine growing plants. According to the Vertical Earth Gardens site, their system uses 80% less water than traditional garden beds.
I used to live in Pacific Beach San Diego, just south of VEG's Carlsbad operation. It's a beautiful place but densely populated and dry. In my first six months living there I remember it only rained once (coincidentally it was the first and last time I left my sunroof open overnight). Because it is so dry their and there are so many people and cars, pollutants build up on all the non-porous streets and parking lots during the long periods between storms. When it did rain all those pollutants inundated the water table, contaminating the urban soil beds and ultimately washing into the ocean, frustrating urban gardeners and surfers alike *. On the other side of that, the fertilizers and pesticides that people use on their lawns and gardens contribute to the urban runoff pollution.
VEG's self-contained system ensures that only fresh and pure water and nutrients are being absorbed by your garden, and allows you to effectively reduce and manage the waste water. Other benefits to this system include: No soil borne diseases, better air circulation decreases mildew and rot, easier to maintain pH balance, a longer growing season, bees have better access to the blossoms and you have easier access for harvesting without breaking your back and knees!
When you go with Vertical Earth Gardens they will build a custom garden to fit your needs and you can contract them to come and maintain the garden as well. If you are not fortunate enough to be within VEGs SoCal service area and your handy with DIY you could build your own system. The basic components include the pipes/troughs, plant pot/baskets, a growing medium, a reservoir and a pump. You can find more information on DIY Hydroponics at the aptly named DIY-Hydroponics.com.
Check out Vertical Earth Gardens.
* I have not seen any official studies of the effects of soil contamination caused by the urban run on urban gardens, however it was a concern among the community. The affects of the run-off on the coastal sea life is well documented.