Dirt-Free Veggies? Meet Vertical Earth Gardens!

Two young guys in San Diego, Mark DeMitchell and Mike Tarzian, have been quietly outfitting restaurants and homes with these innovative vertical gardens. Their goal at Vertical Earth Gardens is to use their simple hydroponic gardens to maximize space and light, and grow food for the table in unusual places, such as roofs, sideyards, balconies and patios. These gardens use no soil–only water, nutrients and oxygen. This is one of their latest installations at the snazzy Jsix restaurant, located in the happening East Village Gaslamp Quarter.

Photo from Vertical Earth Gardens blog

The owners say that their designs not only save space, but also grow lettuce, herbs and vegetables healthier and more efficiently than a traditional bed. Water is recycled through the plants, and they say this saves 80 percent over standard gardens.

Photo from Vertical Earth Gardens
At last count, five progressive restaurants in San Diego are using their gardens–La Papagayo, Lockwood Table Cafe, Kitchen 1540, and Spread Nouveau Comfort Food–which is a brilliant way to spread the word to foodies who might want to grow food to eat at home as well. 

Photo from Vertical Earth Gardens

Their pricing is pretty straightforward. For $700 they set up the garden at your business or home in about 2 hours. They charge $70 a month to maintain it for you. The garden includes 36 plants, including mesclun salad greens, rainbow chard, heirloom tomatoes, dear tongue lettuce, thai basil, grafitti cauliflower, etc. When you think about what you spend on organic veggies at places such as Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”), this is a great value. (They mainly serve the north San Diego area, so I’m not sure if you can buy their vertical garden and maintain it yourself. Worth asking!)

Photo from Vertical Earth Garden

The garden uses hydroton balls, which are made of expanded clay.
Photo from Vertical Earth Garden
I would like to know exactly what “nutrients” they run through these roots.
Photo from Vertical Earth Garden
Photo from Vertical Earth Garden
I could get into having these grow effortlessly on my dumpy sideyard! Maybe they will someday sell a smaller, more affordable version of their hydroponic garden as a DIY kit! 
Photo from Vertical Earth Garden
These guys custom build each garden to fit your location, and you can choose from options such as paint color, redwood, pots and reservoir covers. I like the way they look–kind of mod and space-agey, but green at the same time.
Image from Vertical Earth Garden
 Pretty great how these San Diego restaurants are embracing truly green, sustainable practices–I think I will have to visit them to make sure their veggies taste as good as they look!
(All information from this post was gathered from their Web site.)

5 thoughts on “Dirt-Free Veggies? Meet Vertical Earth Gardens!

  1. I love reading about these alternative growing methods. But what I really want is a large bag of hydroton balls for mulch. Cool stuff!

  2. It's good to see a small scale hydrophonics set up that can be effectively installed on a small garden. There's a large scale operation of vegetable growing using hydrophonics in Scotland, on an area that is barren the locals are able to buy fresh produce grown locally.

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