Innovative gardening is a great way to get the most out of your garden space. You can use innovative gardening techniques to maximize space or reduce costs. Many of the garden innovations also improve sustainability and are environmentally friendly.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about innovative gardening. We will start with an overview of innovative gardening. We’ll then give you some examples and innovative garden notes you can use to improve your garden-growing experience.
What Is Innovative Gardening?
Innovative gardening is all about inventing new, creative, and original gardening techniques. Discoveries made through innovative gardening can advance how we garden in various ways. Innovative gardening practices can improve yields, space efficiency, pest management, cost savings, and sustainability.
You can use these techniques no matter where you live or how much space you have for gardening. Use innovative gardening techniques to improve your plant-growing adventure.
Horizontal Innovative Gardening
Horizontal innovative gardening is typically easier and less expensive to set up. However, it requires more gardening space. Gardening innovations like intercropping and succession gardening maximize your horizontal garden’s yield.
Intercropping involves growing two or more plants close to each other. It maximizes space by utilizing areas that are commonly unused between certain plants. Choose plants that mature at different rates to ensure intercropping is successful.
For example, you can plant radishes between cole crops like broccoli and cabbage. The radishes will be ready to harvest long before the broccoli or cabbage gets large enough to need the extra space.
Succession planting is similar to intercropping but you only plant one crop at a time. For instance, planting radishes first, then after harvesting them planting tomatoes or peppers in the same space.
Vertical Innovative Gardening
Vertical innovative gardening is primarily used to save space or to provide gardening space if you don’t have a yard. Garden towers are easy to find and will allow you to grow up to 10 times as many plants versus just using the ground. You can purchase a premade tower or build your own.
Wall planters are another popular option when it comes to vertical gardening. They allow you to turn wall space outside or indoors into a gardening space. You can easily create your own wall planters or simply place normal planters on shelves on the wall.
Examples Of Innovative Gardening
We’ve already mentioned a few innovative gardening practices. Intercropping, succession planting, garden towers, and wall planters are all wonderful innovative options. Here are a few more innovative gardening ideas.
Composting both outdoor plant waste and indoor food waste is no longer an innovative, novel idea. However, new ways of composting are innovative such as vermicomposting.
Vermicomposting utilizes worms, typically red wigglers (Eisenia fetida). Use them along with food scraps, strips of newspaper, and a plastic storage bin to create compost. The newspaper helps with aeration and moisture management.
The worms eat the food waste and expel worm castings during the composting process. Studies have shown that this type of compost has more nutrients for plants than traditional compost.
Companion plants are plants that are grown together that provide a benefit to one another. For example, planting sage and thyme near Brussel sprouts can reduce diamondback moth damage to Brussel sprouts.
Companion plants can increase pollinators, decrease pests, improve soil nutrients, and maximize space.
Trap crops are used as sacrificial plants for insect pests to feed on, keeping them away from other plants. They are technically a type of companion plant.
An example is planting blue hubbard squash as a trap crop for cucumber beetles. The beetles will be attracted to the squash rather than other cucurbits in your garden.
Inverted gardening involves growing plants upside down from hanging planters. It’s another way you can maximize space or grow plants even if you live in an apartment. Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops to grow using upside-down gardening.
Using Natural Enemies For Pest Control
Increasing natural enemies in the garden like ladybugs and green lacewings will help reduce insect pests. They will also allow you to use less pesticide.
You can increase natural enemies by providing alternative food sources to keep them around when pests aren’t present. For example, ladybugs will feed on pollen when pests aren’t around. You can plant flowers to help draw them to the garden so they’re ready to go when insect pests arrive.
Alternatively, you can purchase natural enemies online and release them in your garden. This will help increase their populations.
Using rainwater for your garden will save you money on your water bill and help the environment. You can use a rain barrel under a downspout from your roof to collect and store rainwater.
Add a spigot at the bottom of the barrel so you can easily fill your watering can when it’s time to water your plants.
Aquaponics is the practice of growing plants and fish together. You typically have plants growing on a floating platform above water.
You can plant tomatoes and put tilapia in the water tank underneath. The tilapia will create waste which will act as an organic fertilizer for the tomatoes.
Materials Used In Innovative Gardening
There isn’t a specific list of items used for innovative gardening because you can upcycle almost anything for gardening. With a little creativity and imagination, you can practically build an entire garden with common household items.
Here are a few ideas on how to upcycle items around your home for innovative gardening. Also, consider visiting your local thrift store or yard sales to find cheap, gently used items you can repurpose in your garden.
Seed Starting Pots
Cardboard egg cartons are perfect for making biodegradable seed starting trays. You can also use small plastic bottles or aluminum cans with the tops cut off to start seeds. When you’re ready to transplant your seedlings, you can cut away the plastic or aluminum containers.
Plant containers are one of the easiest things to make from repurposed items in your home. Plastic bottles, tin cans, ceramic kitchenware, old food storage containers, plastic bins, and crates can all be turned into plant containers. The best items to use are those made of a material you can drill into to create drainage holes.
Old jeans can also be used to make plant containers. Cut an 8 to 12-inch section off one of the pant legs. Sew up one side of the pant legs so that one end is closed and one end is left open.
Now you can add soil and a plant to your new jean planter. Consider attaching a 1-inch wide strip of jean fabric at the top of each side to create handles you can use to move it around.
A colander is perfect for creating a hanging basket. The holes help with drainage and you can use the handles to attach wire or string for hanging.
Old furniture with drawers can also be used as planters. You can fill the drawers with soil to grow plants in them and sit potted plants on the top.
A large PVC pipe cut in half or a rain gutter can be turned into planters too. You can even build them into a tower with multiple levels to maximize space vertically.
An older wooden ladder or wooden pallet can easily be turned into a trellis for climbing vegetables or fruits.
You can also create a square frame by nailing a few pieces of wood together. Then run some heavy-duty fishing line or string from side to side and top to bottom to create a trellis.
If you live where summer temperatures are in the 90s, you may need a shade cloth to protect veggies like peppers from sunscald. You can make your own shade cloth out of an old white sheet.
Alternatively, you can use old white t-shirts sewn together to create a large piece of cloth. Then, attach your new shade cloth to a few stakes over the plants that need protection.
A milk jug or laundry detergent bottle makes a great water can. Wash them out thoroughly and make a few holes in the lid with a drill or soldering iron. Add water, screw on the lid, and you’re ready to go.
Cut-up newspapers, lawn clippings, and fallen leaves are wonderful, free mulch options for your garden. Mulching your garden will help with moisture retention and reduce weed growth. This will reduce the amount of water you have to add to the garden and limit the need for chemical weed killers.
If you live near the beach, you could even use sea shells as a beautiful garden mulch. They’ll also add some calcium to the soil as they are weathered by the elements. This would be the ideal mulch for calcium-loving plants like broccoli, cabbage, peppers, and tomatoes.
The cardboard cylinders at the center of rolls of paper towels or toilet paper can protect against cutworms. Simply cut them lengthwise and place them about an inch into the soil around young plant stems. This creates a collar that will prevent cutworm damage.
You can also protect young plants from other insects using a clear soda bottle. Remove the label and cut the bottom of the bottle off. Now you can place it over seedlings to protect them from insects while still allowing them to get plenty of sunlight.
Types Of Vegetables Grown In Innovative Gardening
Pretty much any vegetable can be grown using innovative gardening techniques. However, some techniques work better with certain plants.
For instance, tomatoes, herbs, and strawberries are great for inverted gardening. When using intercropping or companion planting, certain plants work better together than others.
Many of our vegetable plant care guides will tell you which plants work best as companions, intercrops, or succession crops.
 Cavanagh, A., Hazzard, R., Adler, L. S., & Boucher, J. (2009). Using trap crops for control of Acalymma vittatum (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) reduces insecticide use in butternut squash. Journal of economic entomology, 102(3), 1101-1107.
 Khan, A., & Ishaq, F. (2011). Chemical nutrient analysis of different composts (Vermicompost and Pitcompost) and their effect on the growth of a vegetative crop Pisum sativum. Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research, 1(1), 116-130.