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I want to convert this:

basic retaining wall

To look like this:

vegitable wall

Here's a few thing I need to know:

  • How far should I space the bricks?
  • How far should I space the rows?
  • How do I hold the soil back?
  • What would be acceptable wall growing plants?
  • What would be ideal spacing for a landscaping wall?
  • " Annual" or "perennial"? There aren't many perennial veggies to start with and your picture shows annual (even short-time) stuff like lettuce. Besides, al "perennial" veggies I can think of are tubers if sorts, so exactly not what you'd stuff into the cracks of a wall, unless you really want to re-stack after each harvest. – Stephie May 18 '16 at 9:16
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    I think this has the potential for a great question and interesting answers, but it needs work - defining the premises and constraints among it. Too much for a comment, but we could either meet in chat or I'm tempted to (temporarily) break the rules and post it as an answer which I'll remove asap. (No time for either right now, sorry.) Please gather your thoughts a bit and we could discuss it at some later time. – Stephie May 18 '16 at 9:34
  • @Stephie perennials, since I'm in 4A. – black thumb May 18 '16 at 17:40
  • In cold climates, there are some perennial greens, such as Green De Belleville sorrel (it has huge leaves and the plants come back bigger every year), and Diplotaxis tenuifolia arugula (which although I've heard is perennial it seems almost exactly like the annual Eruca sativa, to me, unless my seeds weren't the right species). Multiplier onions, chives and such are other perennial vegetables. I don't know what greens/vegetables are shown in the picture, though. A lot of people act like annuals that reseed are perennials, and while it's practically that way, it's not literally true. – Shule Apr 27 '17 at 2:44
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    I don't know that any plants are going to reseed growing on a wall like that, though, but perennials, like sorrel, chives, etc. might work. Sorrel does seem to have a big root system, though. – Shule Apr 27 '17 at 2:45
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The wall made of glass in the second picture has either a soil based background, with the soil kept in place by a net, or has a hydroponic system that flows the nutrients through various pipes located on the back of the wall. I suspect it is the latter. Either way, the plants need to be fertilized on a regular basis.

Your can add soil to the other side of your wall and anchor it with plastic net, but only if the wall has holes that the plants can use to cross to the backside, otherwise vegetables won't have enough nutrients to flower or set fruit, not to mention the risk of rain washing everything off.

Plants that you can grow in the small cracks include Hedera and some rock-loving groundcovers hardy to your zone. Also, there are a few succulents hardy to zone 3 and 4, like some species in the genera Sedum and Sempervivum. These plants don'r require fertilizing and may be planted each on every crack.

  • Alina, note that the question explicitly asks for vegetables. – Stephie Apr 27 '17 at 19:06
  • Yes, that's why I think the vegetable idea is not a practical one. With only a few exceptions, vegetables won't thrive between rocks with little or no soil. The OP asks for perennials because of the hardiness zone 4A. Usually, in these climates, the quantity of rain water is enough to wash the soil added between the bricks if the plants didn't fully develop their root system to keep the soil trapped. As Shule said, there are some perennial vegetables that might do well, but it won't look a lot like the hydroponic glass system in the picture. Ornamental plants are a more realistic option. – Alina Apr 27 '17 at 21:20
  • I am curious about this topic. It would be interesting for sure to know what the OP did eventually. – Alina Apr 27 '17 at 21:22
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    As the OP wants edibles, herbs may be the way to go. I reckon oregano would do quite well in my climate at least – Chris H Apr 28 '17 at 12:18
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    @ChrisH Wonderful idea. The herbs will also look good on the wall. – Alina Apr 28 '17 at 12:19

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