Gutter gardening, who would have thought? I mean, it’s a little unconventional, but gutters make for a great container garden. Growing in containers works perfectly for individuals with small spaces, renters, or first time gardeners who are still trying to decide on the best layout of their garden. There’s nothing fancy to it, just another method for growing food.
Short rooted vegetation grows well in the gutters, and to date we have had great success growing various types of lettuce, Parisian carrots, nasturtium, marigolds, scallions, radishes, strawberries, and spinach.
For this form of gardening we opted to use new metal gutters, but did give the plastic version a try as well. Once filled with soil the plastic gutters lost their shape, making it very difficult to manage even with spacers. The metal gutters hold their shape quite well, and once the spacers were added we were able to maintain them without difficulty. A 10 foot gutter, with end caps and spacers, will cost you less than $12 a gutter and you will receive years of use from them; this will be our 3rd year and they are still in great shape.
You will need to add drainage holes, placing them roughly 24 inches apart. We secured the gutters to the wired fencing using tie wire, but depending on your need they can easily be attached to any structure or wood fence.
Our little ones are able to harvest from them easily and this has become their garden project, allowing them to have a sense of accomplishment and ownership in growing their own food. We could not be any more proud as we watch them homesteading and learning valuable lessons along the way.
Gutter gardens do great in the Pacific Northwest. For warmer locations we strongly suggest watering them a minimum of twice a day, possibly even running a soaker hose along the top to help prevent the soil from drying out. Slugs are a huge issue for us here in the Pacific Northwest. However, we have yet to have an issue with them making it to the gutters.
Each spring the gutters are inspected to ensure that they are not rusting or in need of being mended in any way. A few individuals have asked if the produce grown contains a metallic taste, we’re happy to report that it does not! The flavor of the produce is just as incredible as if it were grown in the ground or a raised bed.
We haven’t looked back since adding this method of container gardening to our homestead, and each year we consider added more, but where to add them is the ultimate question.
If you’re looking to maximize your gardening space with the use of containers this book is going to help you get there. Through trial and error we learned that some things for us do better in pots, like tomatoes. Mountain living is not a friend to farmers, especially when the sun plays peekaboo through the tree line. It is easy for us to move pots or containers depending on the time of the year we are in. Are you interested in learning more about growing in gutters? This was an excellent book which has helped guide us through the learning curve of growing in containers, The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith