Thursday, July 15, 2010

Homestead Experiment #4-Our Rain Gutter Garden

I recently attended a class put on by a local master gardener, Mrs. Suzanne Forsling. She had written an article for our local paper about using rain gutters as planter boxes on the sides of her home. You can find the article here: I was really excited about this-especially for homeschool families who would like to do a gardening unit with their kids but think they need lots of land.
I loved the adaptibility and low price of her plan and set about to try it even though we actually have plenty of sunny garden beds at our current rental. I figured if I could grow my lettuce, radishes, and herbs in a gutter, then that would leave for bed space for mound and root veggies. Off we went to Home Depot to get our gutter going!
We decided to do just one 10 ft run since we were actually going to use our deck railing. In our home, the wall that faces the south is covered with picture windows. We got the brackets, caps, soil, fertilizer, and a snack for my assistants! When we got home, my son helped me drill drainage holes every 5 or 6 inches along the bottom of the gutter. This was his first use of a power tool. Let's just say he was sad when he ran out of gutter to drill! :(

Next I screwed the brackets along our deck railing. Very simple-one screw on each! The gutter just 'threads' and slides along the grooves made to hook on the bracket.

We put the caps on the ends and filled the gutter half full w/ garden soil like in the article. Next we put a layer of vigoro time release vegetable fertilizer.

Then, after topping off the rest of the way with more soil, we planted our radishes and lettuce seeds. I'll try to be sure to post pics as our new 'garden' progresses.

Now you have no more excuses! Get gardening and grow some greens for your family table!


  1. You mentioned you attended a class given by Suzanne Forsling where you learned about gutter gardening. I see that you are using the brackets specified by the manufacturer to hold the gutter in place. Do you happen to know if Suzanne did the same for hers? The posts about her gutters didn't specify and putting the screws directly into the gutter material can cause problems with expansion and contraction due to temperature changes.

    I am planning to write an article on the use of gutters as vertical gardening adjuncts, and I hoped to ask Suzanne about her gutter gardens, but I haven't been able to find any contact information for her. Does she have a website that you know of?

    You can contact me through my contact page at:

    Best Regards,

  2. Yes, I used the brackets that come with the the rain gutters and are designed to be attached to the house. They were very cheap and five years later are still working just fine. After the first two years we actually added a two by two slat against the siding and then attached the rain gutter attachments to that. We also use fresh dirt each year, seems to be better for growing the vegetables.

  3. I once saw an episode on a lifestyle channel where they featured a home where the owner grows veggies in its gutters. I don’t know how that works, like how it would affect the gutter system, but nothing sounds more practical and amazing than growing your own food. Jesse @