Vertical Veg inspires and supports food growing in very limited spaces. Almost any small space with a few hours of sun can become a productive oasis.

You will find ideas and tips for container growing in Mark’s blog. How much can you grow? records the harvests from Mark’s balcony and window sills as he experiments to find out if its possible to grow £1,000 of food in a year.

Balcony food growing paradise © Sarah Cuttle / Vertical Veg 2010

Mark also runs container growing workshops and stalls in London, more info here.

Growing food at home in a city has many benefits, as outlined here. And the bigger picture of why urban food growing is important is summarised here.

I’m Mark Ridsdill Smith, the founder – it’s me on the balcony above and behind the stall below.  Frustrated with waiting for an allotment, I began to experiment with food growing on my balcony about four years ago (see pic above). After some less successful attempts, I soon found I was growing more than I imagined possible. Vertical Veg blog was born to share the learning and inspire others.


Demonstrating how to grow bean shoots at the London Green Fair











16 thoughts on “Home”

  1. I am here via a recommendation from Sue Berger…
    We have a roof terrace garden- quite shaded as it’s inbetween 2 high walls. I’m trying to think vertically too so will be following with interest!

    1. Hi Naomi, going vertical would certainly help you make the most of your space. You may also find that it will help your crops reach more sun – as the higher your plants get, the less shade they are likely to get from your walls. By the way, leafy veg (salads and stir fry greens and herbs) tend to be the most productive in spaces with only a few hours of sun. Looking at your website, I wondered if this old post might be of interest to you: http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/april-2010/
      thanks for getting in touch! Mark

  2. Hi Mark, great site and project – very interesting to read about the monetary value of the veg you grow.

    I work on a roof garden on top of a supermarket in Crouch End (the project is called Food from the Sky – you may well know / have visited it) growing food in containers for commercial sale. If you are ever in the area on a Friday would be great to have a chat and exchange some ideas up on the roof.

    Feel free to send me an email.

    Best wishes, Jack

  3. Not being short of space (but running short of sunshine in Sunny South Africa!) but having a shady garden, I have decided to go vertical on the bit of wall that gets morning sun. Also it will mean I don’t need to dodge the fairies at the bottom of the garden.
    Just hope the birds don’t get my seedlings first – they did last time.You certainly are an inspiration.

    1. Very good luck with your vertical growing Denise – if you haven’t already tried them, a few old CDs might be worth a try to scare away the birds. Sometimes it works. Keep in touch.

  4. after moving and no longer having a 140ft garden we were left with a balcony WHAT to do I surfed the net and time after time your balcony with the mass of veg on it came up .WOW!!!
    VEG that what we will do and after a 1st summer we have grow tom’s beans beetroot stawberrys peas and so much more… my daughers boy friend calls it the farm as there is just so much.
    any one out there wanting to start go fot it.
    and many thanks to you .

    1. Wow, that sounds fantastic what you have achieved! Any tips on how to grow beetroot? (I always struggle with it). Love how your daughters boyfriend calls your balcony a farm! Ours is sometimes referred to as the ‘garden’ – which I find rather charming given how small it is. Do keep in touch – and would love to see a pic of your balcony if you have one you’re happy to share.

  5. Hi Mark, I’ve always tried to grow my own veg and was fortunate in the past to have a large garden. Now that I’m off to london for two years, a friend pointed me to your site – great it is too… well done…

    Although I do have a practical question:- how do you clear your end of season waste, is there a ‘Green Waste collection service’, in London or are you composting? (I’ll be relying on public transport!)

    Many thanks Tracey

    1. Hi Tracey, sorry for slow reply – just catching up again after hols! Most of my green waste goes in the wormery but occasionally (eg at end of season) there is too much for it to cope with. Luckily we have a Green Waste collection service in Camden so it all goes to that. If you don’t have a green waste collection, another solution would be to find out about community food growing projects near to where you live (there are lots in London now so, with luck, there’ll be one within easy walking distance) – they will almost certainly have a compost heap and I’m sure they’d love your green waste!
      Cheers, Mark

  6. Hi Mark, I’m writing to you from Toronto, Canada to say that I’ve read your blog for the past year and tonight I felt that I met you in person. I watched you on ITV’s Love Your Garden and I felt that I had a personal tour from you in your balcony garden. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for the inspiration and gardening tips.

    1. Hi Allen
      Great to hear from you… Extremely impressed you were able to find out about & see the ITV programe in Toronto – I guess on ITV’s Iplayer site? Anyway, thanks for reading the blog and taking time to write. It’s really rewarding to hear from readers, particularly when you are thousands of miles of way. Happy growing.

  7. Natalya Scott

    Hi Mark

    I am currently finishing off a dissertation at the University of Gloucestershire about designing gardens in urban areas and was inspired by how you have grown so much in such a small space. I was wondering if I could use a couple of images in my dissertation please?

    With best wishes
    Natalya Scott

    1. Very good to hear from you Joe, all the way across in Maine. I stole a lot of my ideas (like self watering containers) from the US and Canada! Thanks for getting in touch. Mark

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