Friday, January 16, 2009

A Living Wall ...

I'm always on the lookout for unique, green ideas. Our bloggy friend Kelli, from Thoughts of a Sober White Woman, has a regular feature called Eco-Friendly Friday. At the beginning of the year she talked about her rather unusual plans for 2009 ... her own special twist on Living Walls. I was fascinated! Her idea is brilliant ... creative, lovely and ... green. She has very kindly agreed to share her plans with us. A big THANK YOU to Kelli for this article. OK ... here we go:

Before I start this entry I would like to say thanks to a reduce footprints for asking me to write an article for her blog.

Let me give everyone a little bit of back ground information on husband and I.

My name is Kelli and I am a true hippy at heart. I think I was born to the wrong parents and in the wrong decade. I recycle everything, hug everything, I am huge animal lover and I love coming up with new ways to reuse everything and I love never having to pay for anything. Ed Begley is my hero.

My husbands name is Rusty and he is your typical hard core veteran. I told him that when he is old he will be the crazy veteran that sit’s on the porch and shoots little children. He does not recycle, conserve, or care about the world in which we live.

As you can tell there is never a dull moment at our house.

One night I was watching one of my “hippy shows” or that is what Rusty calls them….anyway I saw an awesome idea. This couple had planted a living wall. They were building a new house and they wanted to plant Ivy on one wall. They had a skylight right above the wall and they even had a sprinkler for the wall! The couple said that the living wall actually cooled the house and it helped purify the air.

That got me to thinking. I am not building a home from the ground up, so I can’t do exactly what they did, but what could I do?

I told Rusty about the t.v. show, and that I wanted to create something like that for our home. In the summer time here in California the heat just beats down on this one side of the house. Rusty just said HMMM.

One of our friends came over and we telling him about the show I saw, and we came up with a way to grow a living wall. I wanted to plant roses and sunflowers and they would become my outside curtain. They would provide extra shade, and they would be nice to look at.

Rusty semi agreed to this. He said “I think Ed Bagley has it right. If we are going to grow something lets grow something we can eat.” What? My husband likes something that Ed is doing?

For two of the windows on the side of the house I am going to plant rose bushes. Not only will they get taller then the window’s, give us some shade, but they will also look nice.

On the back of the house we have four big windows. Rusty and his friend came up with the idea of growing green beans. We were given several different idea’s on to get the green beans to climb. So it looks like I know a husband and some helpers that will be building a trellis of some sort. Please say a prayer for me. That mean’s I will have a ton of marines building something in my back yard. All I want is a trellis, not a bunker.

For another window I am going to use corn as my curtain. I just can’t believe how expensive corn is!

I still have two windows left, and as of yet I have not decided what to grow in front of them. Rusty did say that he would like me to grow some squash this year. O.K. but that does not grow upwards!

All of this has also got me to thinking about people that live in small spaces or apartments. They can do the same thing. My girlfriend use to grow cherry tomatoes in a big pot, so I am going to assume that you could grow some corn or green beans the same way.

Lettuce and spinach can also be grown in containers, and that will keep coming back even after you cut it. Granted to won’t offer much shade, but it will make a nice salad.

What it really comes down to is thinking outside the box. What can you grow that will provide some shade or food for your family? Just think if we all grew some of our own food we would not only be getting the best quality food, but we would also be reducing our footprint.

Again, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Kelli for sharing her creative ideas with us. As always ... I'd love to hear from you!


  1. How cool is that! (and I'll go check out her blog, too).. a living wall!

  2. Very interesting.

    I wanted to comment on what you said about squash not growing upwards ... let me disclaimer this that I don't have a garden, and am in no way an expert here. But this summer I was reading a book called Square Foot Gardening, and they basically assert you can grow anything "vine-y" vertical. If I remember right, this included squash. I mean, squash usually takes up LOTS of horizontal space, and that's not really possible in the teeny tiny square foot garden - thus the vertical-ness. So, um, it might be something you could look into.

    - Cesia.

  3. A living wall............what a great idea!

  4. Yet another great idea found on RF, thanks Kelli


  5. Roses and Sunflowers...... what an irrestistable combination! I must try that myself. :)

    Another crop that makes a good screen is Jerusalem Artichokes and they look attractive too.

  6. You might try a row of Jet Star tomatoes near a window. Mine grow like a jungle. Just add a little fertilizer and let nature do its work! You'll have a beautiful, and delicious, wall.

  7. Hi there I've been reading the same book as Cesia, and I was going to say the same thing, that you can grow squash vertical. Something fun you might want to grow is this special squash, I forget the name, but when they are mature you harvest them and they are loofah sponges. I've grown them before here in TX and it makes a cool little loofah for your bath/shower.

  8. thanks for your comment on my page. hope u will continue to follow me as i m doing :)

  9. I like the idea that the wall will not only be attractive, help coll the house but will also, for the most part, be eatable.

    I like eatable.

  10. Nice guest post! And have a great weekend, green friend.

  11. If I didn't tend to grow dead things, I might be more intrigued. Kelli mentioned how expensive corn is. Well, that is one of the unintended consequences of "going green". Demand for corn went up as demand for Ethanol based gas went up. Supply and Demand steps in and Bam! you have high corn prices. Fortunately, farmers have found something called "Switchgrass
    " as a better biomass source for ethanol.

  12. Wow, what an interesting post. Will definetly check out her blog. As for growing things, I unfortunetly do not have a green to speak. Now my husband does and he oh so grows everything. Especially his tomato's!
    Anyway just wanted to let you know that I am back and getting stronger each day. Plus to thank you for keeping a check on me. take care. Ta ta...

    nana net

  13. What an inspirational post. I hope you post pictures when your plant walls are up. Iloved your line abut the marines building you a bunker instead of a trellis.

  14. Thanks for following me. I enjoy your blog and I set it up so I will get emails of your newest posts. And thank you for the compliment on Andreas site (Finding Sirius)

  15. Hi Footprints, your post reminded me of a segment I shot for Discovery Channel earlier this year about a sustainable house that was built from the ground up. It was in Minneapolis MN. The company was called Live Green Live Smart, I think. And they grew something very similar in their 100% self sustaining home. It was amazing. Would love to see some pictures of your project.


  16. Cool stuff! I wouldn't mind a trellis or a bunker ;)

    Thanks Kelli for sharing!

  17. Or an earth berm

  18. that is so cool!!

    haha marines planting beans.