News & Press

Get Growing with Vertical Gardening

Everyone’s heard that vertical stripes are supposed to be slimming, and horizontal stripes are supposedly less flattering. The same is true of your garden! Take advantage of potentially unused space with a variety of vertical gardening methods to condense more plants into a smaller horizontal growing area. Dalen Products produces two items especially suited for this: our Trellis Netting and our Stackable Garden.

So if you’re living in an apartment, have only a small area set aside for growing, or are simply trying to maximize your space, why not try vertical gardening?

Examples and benefits of vertical gardening

Vertical gardening can refer to several different techniques: it could be on a huge scale like these urban indoor farms in Japan; it could be a lush wall garden inside your home, or a stacking planter, or a shady trellis. It could be planted with ornamental plants, edible plants, or a mix of the two.  Besides being space-saving, vertical gardening or farming can provide attractive privacy screens, easy maintenance, and better yields than growing horizontally.

Some background

Growing plants “vertically” is nothing new; climbing plants have entwined themselves around trees to reach the sun for millennia. Trellises have exploited this tendency in grapevines and other climbing crops since before the Romans. The ancient Babylonians and Mayans grew plants on terrace steps centuries ago. But thanks to recent trends and innovations, ambitious gardeners and urban farmers can now grow plants on walls, indoors, parallel rather than perpendicular to the soil!

Sounds interesting! How can I do it?

Green walls, often shown crafted in a frame with succulents, have been growing in popularity since 2008, and are still a popular home and business installment. But while beautiful, these can often be expensive and difficult to maintain. While you might not have the time and resources to install a green wall in your home, why not create a relaxing green curtain around your porch, patio, or balcony with a trellis? Or put a small area of your garden space to work with a stackable garden?

What can I plant on a trellis?

Trellis-Netting-Vertical-Gardening

Some of Dalen’s Trellis Netting in action

Lots of things! Ornamental twining vines are a very popular option for decorative purposes, and of course cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes grow best with some form of support.

So why is that? Several reasons:

  • For plants like tomatoes, if they grow along the ground they’ll put their energy into sprouting new roots (source). If you stake them, support them with a cage, or tie them to trellises they’ll fruit more. For more information on tomato growing, click here and here.
  • Plants get more light exposure when they grow on trellises. More light = better growth and better ripening of fruits.
  • Better air circulation. Small melons or cucumbers growing on the ground are likely to rot or be eaten by pests where they come in contact with the soil.

All these reasons translate to better yields for you!  According to NC State University, for example, when cucumbers are grown on trellises they can produce “2 to 3 times the average yield from non-trellised fields.” (For the original article click here)

Especially if you’re using the trellis for edible plants, it’s best to keep it at least a foot from any walls for air circulation.

Besides their excellent benefits for crops, trellises have great aesthetic appeal. They can screen your patio or balcony from nosy neighbors; block an ugly view or unsightly yard fixture (like a water tank or air conditioning unit); partition off different areas of your garden, or create a lovely screened-in porch.

What about that stackable planter? Why should I get one of those?

Vertical-Gardening-Stackable-Garden

Dalen Stackable Garden planted with strawberries, herbs, and kale

I’m glad you asked! Here are 6 reasons stackable planters are great:

  • Easy to water (just water the top planter and it will spread to the lower ones; no need to water each “pocket” individually)
  • Space-saving
  • Fits a lot of plants into small or awkward spaces (like a patio corner, a balcony, or a front stoop; just make sure there’s enough sun for your chosen plants)
  • Versatile (plant edibles, ornamentals, or a mix!)
  • Easy to store (at the end of the growing season, each level can be nested inside the other to save space)
  • Low-cost and little-time investment

If the venerable history and innovative new methods –as well as all the potential benefits– have you eager to try vertical gardening, Dalen offers a stackable garden and two different mesh sizes of trellis netting, both made entirely in the USA. Click here for a list of retailers!

If you do try “growing up” with some of these methods, let us know! We’d love to see your photos and hear your comments.

Local Firm on a Mission to Provide Clean Water

Dalen was recently mentioned in a Knoxville News-Sentinel article for helping design and implement TivaWater filters for clean water in Uganda and Haiti.

Copyright (C) 2013, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Team Dalen Raises $600 for the American Diabetes Association

Team Dalen raised $600 to support the work of the American Diabetes Association. A fun walk was had by all in the beautiful weather on November 6, 2011.

American Diabetes Association Walk

Dalen founder Neal Caldwell featured on WBIR

Family PhotoWBIR featured in their “Your Story” segment our founder Neal Caldwell:

http://www.wbir.com/news/article/191249/2/Your-Stories-Neal-Caldwell

We are so very proud of all that Neal has done to make Dalen great.

Keeping Critters Out of Your Garden

Can scarecrow devices really work?

The garden is ready to harvest. As you start to pick your ripe, much-anticipated berry patch, you notice that there aren’t as many berries as yesterday. What happened to them? The most likely culprit is a bird. If you want birds in your yard, grow blueberries or strawberries, they’ll arrive before the berries are ripe and they won’t leave until there isn’t one left. The second most likely pest is a small animal like a rabbit or a digger like a squirrel or skunk. Mr. McGregor’s garden situation is now your garden situation. And last, but not least, deer can decimate a garden crop in one night. Scarecrow devices like plastic owls and blow up snakes can make a difference in your efforts to deter these pests.

Great Horned OwlScarecrow devices modeled after the Great Horned Owl are particularly effective. Also called Big Hoot Owl, Cat Owl and King Owl, the Great Horned Owl™ can be used to scare off birds and other small predators in all kinds of situations. The Great Horned Owl is sometimes referred to as “the tiger of the sky” because of its fierce nature and ability to capture a wide variety of prey even including skunks! At night, they strike from above and can kill and carry animals several times larger than themselves (a typical Great Horned Owl weighs between 2 and 5 pounds). Dalen Products (dalenproducts.com) makes a wide variety of owls including a traditional Great Horned Owl, a blow-up owl, a Rotating Head Owl and a SOL-R Owl that can be filled with sand or gravel and mounted on a pole, placed near gardens, berry bushes, boat docks, patios, porches or anywhere you need a predatory presence.
Snakes, the 6 foot blow-up kind, can terrify and scare away the diggers of the garden. If you’ve ever planted bulbs, then are mystified to find big holes where they used to be, the culprit is most likely a squirrel or skunk.

There are many other types of scarecrow devices that work. Anything that flashes or makes noise also can scare deer, bears, and small furry critters. Dalen also makes a holographic tape that can be particularly helpful with crows and deer in corn fields. It can be hung as streamers similar to your grandmother’s hanging of pie pans or strung on stakes. There is also a GARD’N Eyes balloon that is frequently used in orchards and vineyards. And don’t forget the original old fashioned scarecrow – he can still work as well, but benefits from the presence of some scarier predators alongside him.

Dalen Owls Featured on CBS Early Show

Keeps critters out of your wood pile. SOL-R panel keeps owl’s head moving in a realistic and terrifying way!

Keeps critters out of your wood pile.
SOL-R panel keeps owl’s head moving in a realistic and terrifying way!

Dalen Owls made their CBS debut over the Labor Day weekend. Featured in a spot on how to get your yard ready for fall (and keep the wood pile free of critters), the SOL-R Owl stole the show with DIY host Matt Blashaw.

Watch it for yourself here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7379586n&tag=cbsnewsLeadStoriesAreaMain

Cicadas are Coming!

What are you going to do about your garden?

If you haven’t ever witnessed the arrival of the cicadas eating and eating your young plant leaves in hours (NOT days), you might not have thought about how to best protect your new plants from the damage that can occur. While the periodical 13-year cicada (specifically known as the Brood XIX Magicicada), is an amazing insect that won’t bite or sting you, it can munch on all your baby fruit trees, garden vegetables, berry bushes and flowers.

With their mass emergences, cicadas are sometimes confused with “seventeen-year locusts,” but they are not locusts; locusts belong to the order Orthoptera. Cicadas are sucking insects, about 1.5-inches long that appear from May to July. They are most numerous in the last two weeks of May and first week of June. They are black and have reddish-orange eyes and legs. Adults have clear wings with orange veins that are held roof-like over their bodies.

Periodical cicadas damage trees above and below ground. The most obvious damage is that caused by egg laying in small twigs. This damage causes twigs to split, wither, and die, causing a symptom called “flagging.” Flagging is especially serious on young plants (four years or younger) – some of the more vulnerable trees include maple, oak, hickory, beech, ash, dogwood, hawthorn, magnolia, willow, apple, peach, cherry and pear. Flowers, vines and shrubs include: Rose of Sharon, rose, raspberry, grape, black-eyed Susan, hollies, spirea, rhododendron, viburnum, junipers, and arborvitae. More than 270 species of plants have been noted as hosts for egg laying female cicadas. Damage is also done by the nymphs that suck sap from roots. Prolonged feeding by nymphs on a tree’s root system may reduce plant growth and fruit production.

What can you do to protect your garden investment of time and money? Cicadas typically do not bother mature plantings, but they do tend to eat young ones. Choose a lightweight, white row cover or blanket to put over your tender plantings. Place netting over your baby fruit trees. Spray large groupings of cicadas off with a garden hose. Don’t use pesticides. They likely won’t help and they could hurt you.

Weeding Season Begins

How can you prevent weeds in your garden?

Nothing is more frustrating for the busy homeowner than to create a beautiful garden bed and then, just after flowers are at their peak, weeds also start to arrive in the newly mulched area and proliferate. Where did these weeds come from? Using a landscape fabric, sometimes also called “weed control fabric,” or “weed barrier fabric” is a terrific way to keep weeds from taking root above or below the fabric.

Look for a landscape fabric (and there are many to choose from) which has a lengthy guarantee. Remember that it is not just an investment in fabric you’re making, it is the total cost of your garden. You want a landscape fabric that works so you don’t have to destroy an entire garden bed by pulling up good plants that you want along with the weeds that you don’t want.

You should also look at the packaging. Does the fabric control weeds from above and below? Remember that many weeds actually arrive with your mulch or as airborne seeds in your mulch. If a plant you do not want starts to grow above the fabric, you do not want it to penetrate below the fabric – you want it to grow only slightly, then wither and die after it cannot receive enough moisture or nutrients or just remain small enough that a minute of weeding can remove it easily. Sometimes creeping plants like ground ivy can spread and cover the fabric, but are easily removed as they just peel right off of it. Several fabrics that can control weeds from above and below, have lengthy guarantees and that are available in many different sizes are made by Dalen Products (dalenproducts.com).

Landscape fabric is a chemical free alternative to keeping weeds out, but nourishing the plantings you do want in your garden bed. Fabrics are designed to let water and nutrients in and help maintain soil moisture. Many gardeners use them for this feature alone, but a garden that requires little to no weeding is a real plus.

Magicada XIX