CARLSBAD — Spring is just around the corner, bringing with it a new season of fresh produce to brighten up any meal.
With the help of two Carlsbad locals and a unique garden structure, people can enjoy spring’s crisp fruits and vegetables right from their own backyard.
Mark DeMitchell and Mike Tarzian have designed a garden — a Vertical Earth Garden, or VEG, to be exact — that allows even the most novice gardener to enjoy homegrown produce.
Their unique garden design saves space and water while providing fresh and organic ingredients for salads, pasta and more.
“When I make a salad, I go and cut the lettuce and it’s five minutes old,” Tarzian said.
The vertical gardens are appropriately named, growing up instead of out. Using a custom-built system, the VEG’s unique design allows it to rely on hydroponics — a concept that forgoes soil and uses mineral nutrients and water instead, Tarzian said.
Nutrient-infused water flows down through the pipe system to nourish the plants, and collects in a water reservoir before the process repeats.
This hands-on design allows users to control every aspect of the garden’s growth, DeMitchell said.
“It’s like a veggie vending machine,” DeMitchell said. The custom-made gardens use as little or as much space as one can afford, and ones that “people can put anywhere.”
Aside from customizing the size of a garden, owners are able to hand pick what fruits, vegetables and herbs they want to grow. Tarzian and DeMitchell have compiled a menu of plants that can thrive in the gardens and help owners decide which will do best based on the current season.
“We try and offer stuff that you can’t get at stores,” DeMitchell said, using specialty lettuces as an example.
Installation of a VEG is quick and easy. After interested customers consult with Tarzian and DeMitchell to decide on a size, the two get to work. In as little as three days, users will be able to start tending to their own hydroponic gardens. “When we leave that first day, they have plants in there,” Tarzian said.
Tarzian and DeMitchell contribute much of the VEG’s success to Dave and Una Tyler, the owners of Anderson’s La Costa Nursery in Encinitas. With little more than a concept in mind, the duo approached the owners with their idea for a vertical garden.
“We showed up and they said put one in next week,” DeMitchell said.
The original VEG is still thriving at the nursery, producing bok choy, strawberries and heirloom tomatoes. It stands as a testament to the success of some North County ingenuity and a desire to enjoy fresh homegrown produce with ease.
“It took a couple tries to finally figure (the design) out,” DeMitchell said. “Now we know what to grow and we know how much it can grow.”
To learn more about Vertical Earth Gardens, visit verticalearthgardens.com.