FAQ

THE GARDENWELL SYSTEM

GardenWells are designed to emulate a natural water table. That means, soil on top, water underneath. This allows water to wick up naturally into the soil as needed, creating the perfect environment for your veggies to grow, while also reducing water consumption and time spent watering.

Practically speaking...

1. Once the woodwork is assembled, our food safe waterproof liner is carefully folded into the box to create a completely sealed  water tight unit.

2. The hole for the overflow is carefully cut out then installed. This should be 3 inches from the bottom of the garden - exactly the height of the GardenWells. The overflow is very important, as it allows any access water to drain away so that the reservoir never over fills and floods your garden. (think about those rainy Spring days!)

3. The GardenWells are clicked together and installed. This creates the platform for the soil to sit on, and creates space underneath for the water reservoir. For every squarefoot GardenWell, you're creating a 7 litre water reservoir for your garden. For example, a 4'x4' garden holds 112 litres of water. Thats like a garden and a rain barrel in one!

4. Put the WaterStem in place, which acts as your fill up tube and float gauge, then you just need Container Mix soil and you're ready to get growing!

 

Self-watering system explained

 

  • GardenWells
  • FS Liner
  • WaterStem
  • FloatGauge
  • OverFlow
Components of GardenWell system

See web page “COMPONENTS

Craftsmanship

LifeSpace Gardens are handcrafted from locally sourced red and yellow cedar. We glue and screw with non-corrosive stainless steel hardware. Your garden is carefully stained with Osmo wood oil to protect it from the elements. Osmo is made from natural oils and waxes and offers a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to wood finishing. See more about "MATERIALS".

The GardenWell system in each LifeSpace Garden separates soil from the water reservoir with unique, durable, and food safe plastic Well inserts. Your garden is also lined with a food safe waterproof Liner, made from virgin polypropylene. The FS Liner protects the cedar from rotting from the inside out and is fully waterproof to hold the water reservoir. These materials won’t leach toxins into your garden. See more about "GARDENWELL".

We build LifeSpace Gardens with sustainability at the forefront. The cedar we source takes a long time to grow, so we make it our mission to build your garden to last for years and years. Just as you would do with a deck or fence, refinish the Gardens every few years to help them last to their full potential. Your LifeSpace Garden will become as much a part of your family as your home.

Custom Solutions

Absolutely! CONTACT US to discuss the possibilities for transforming your space.

Setting up your garden

Location

There are three major factors to consider in the placement of your LifeSpace Garden:

  1. Sun: Most vegetables thrive in 6-8 hours of sunshine. Take into consideration trees, buildings and other sources of shade that may affect the light your garden receives.
  2. Level Ground: The GardenWell system relies on a level surface for the Wells to properly wick water up into the soil. After you’ve selected your location, place a level on the ground where your garden will sit. If the ground is not quite level you may need to do a bit of landscaping.
  3. Convenience: Make sure your garden is in a place where you can most enjoy it! What space do you spend the most time in? Can you see your garden from there? LifeSpace Gardens have presence and style, and being surrounded by the vitality of plants has many health benefits. Place your garden where you can easily see it and where you can harvest your dinner outside your kitchen door.

    The amount of time between reservoir fills varies between each model of LifeSpace Gardens, the weather patterns, and your unique space - which means it could range from a week to a month between fillings. Each square foot of garden holds 7 litres of water, and the larger the garden, the less often you fill. Just keep an eye on the visible Float Gauge and it will tell you exactly when to fill– when it sits down on the StemCap and is no longer bobbing, it is empty. By the end of a season, you will get to know your LifeSpace Garden’s unique personality and its exact watering needs.

    Setup

    Once your LifeSpace garden has been placed on level ground, put a scoop of potting mix or vermiculite in every Well insert, then fill your garden to the top of the cedar edge with organic potting soil, and select your starts and seeds.

    Before planting, water soil until soaking wet using a watering can or hose. Plant your garden, then water lightly once more after you starts are in and seeds are sown. Fill the reservoir of your garden by pouring water through the WaterStem.

    LifeSpace Gardens will need to be watered from above for the next 2 weeks as your seeds and bedding plants develop root systems. Check soil daily by sticking your finger into the soil. If you don’t feel moisture, water slowly, making three slow passes with your watering can or hose.

    After 2 weeks, you can let the self-watering system take over! Keep an eye on the FloatGauge and fill when the LSP logo sits flat against the StemCap your reservoir is empty and you will need to refill.

    Sun

    Most garden vegetables thrive in 6-8+ hours of sun. However, there are shade tolerant veggies that you can still grow even in less than 6 hours of sun. Take into consideration trees, buildings and other sources of shade that may affect sunlight. Plan a day to monitor the sun, check every few hours and make note of how much sunlight reaches your selected spot. This will inform your decision on what vegetables to grow. We always recommend doing some experimentation in your garden, there are many factors that make for a successful garden and every space in unique.

      There are shade-tolerant vegetables that will still grow well, provided they receive at least 4 to 6 hours of sun a day. Some of the best vegetables for a shady area are:
      • arugula
      • endive/escarole
      • kale
      • lettuce
      • mustard greens
      • radicchio
      • oregano
      • parsley
      • sage
      • spinach
      • swiss chard
      • watercress
      • mint
      • bok choy

      Level Ground

      The GardenWell self-watering system relies on level ground for the Wells to properly wick water up from the reservoir. After you’ve selected a location taking into consideration sunlight, place a level on the ground where your garden will sit. If the ground is not quite level you may need to do some landscaping or building to level things out.

      ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS - water, vermiculite, and soil

      Water

      LifeSpace Garden’s self-watering system depends on level ground for the wicking system to work properly. Place a level on the ground where your garden is located to see whether it is level. If the ground is not quite level try using a shim or relocating your garden. Check to make sure your reservoir is not already full by tapping on the FloatGauge.

      LifeSpace Gardens can be 50% more water efficient than traditional top-watering methods. This can amount to hundreds or thousands of litres per year.

      If the weather drops below zero, it may cause your water reservoir to freeze. This will not impact the quality of the system or damage any components. The components of the system are put together to allow for flexibility and movement. Once the water thaws the system should function as normal.

      The amount of time between reservoir fills varies between each model of LifeSpace Gardens, the weather patterns, and your unique space - which means it could range from a week to months between fillings. Each square foot of garden holds 7 litres of water, and the larger the garden, the less often you fill. Just keep an eye on the visible FloatGauge and it will tell you exactly when to fill– when it sits down on the StemCap and is no longer bobbing, it is empty. By the end of a season, you will get to know your LifeSpace Garden’s unique personality and its exact watering needs.

      VERMICULITE

      Vermiculite is an inorganic substance often used in the horticultural sector in soil composition. It is heated to high temperatures and pops like popcorn to create a sponge like absorbency. It will absorb water to a capacity, it is used in your Lifespace Garden to pull water up from the reservoir into the soil.

      Vermiculite is used in the horticultural sector in its exfoliated form and brings many benefits to gardening such as its ability to retain a high level of water when mixed into soil.

      When setting up your LifeSpace Garden you can use horticultural grade vermiculite to fill each GardenWell insert. For each square foot of your garden you will need about 400 mL of vermiculite. If vermiculite isn't available, Peat Moss or simply filling the GardenWells with organic potting mix will work just fine.

      As vermiculite is placed in each 1’ x 1’ GardenWell, it assists in the absorbing of moisture from the reservoir below and into the organic soil above through the process of capillary action. Because it's inert, it won't pack down or decompose overtime, which makes it ideal. Peat Moss and potting mix will also work as substitutes.

      When setting up your LifeSpace Garden it is important to add a scoop of horticultural grade vermiculite into each GardenWell insert. For each square foot of your garden you will need about 400 mL of vermiculite.

      SOIL

      To be successful in your garden, it all starts with growing in a strong foundation of organic soil to keep you producing nutritious vegetables year after year.

      For maximum Self-Watering effectiveness and for your veggies to have nice healthy roots, light and friable soil structure is key. For this you need a high quality organic potting mix. Potting mixes can be found at any Nursery and differ from standard soils. They generally consist of 3 key ingredients - compost, peat moss or coconut coir, and perlite or vermiculite. 
      Sea Soil Container Complete, and MySoil are two pre-bagged products that can be found throughout southwestern BC and have worked with great success in LifeSpace Gardens. 
      If you're looking to mix your own, a more economical option for larger gardens, a great mixture is as follows:
      • 1 part compost (ideally from 3 different sources: Aged manure, food compost, forest fines, fish, seaweed, worm castings are all great ingredients)
      • 2 parts peat moss or coconut coir
      • .5 parts Vermiculite or perlite.
      With a great potting mix to start, you can simply amend your garden with fresh organic compost year after year to keep your crops healthy and happy. A good composting bin becomes a gardeners best friend 

      For each square foot of your garden, you will need about 25 Litres of organic potting mix.

      LifeSpace Gardens are designed to be filled to the top of the inside FS Liner. When installing soil after purchase, we recommend filling to the top of the cedar edge, as the soil will settle down an inch or so after installation to the depth of the inside FS Liner.

      LifeSpace Gardens experience much less soil compaction than traditional methods, as the soil is never stepped on, and there is no need to dig up the ground as you grow. Due to rain washing through your soil and your hungry veggies, you will find that you will lose a couple inches of soil.

      Expect to top-up your soil by a couple of inches with organic matter every year. We recommend home composting to reduce household waste and fill up your LifeSpace garden!

      Our patented GardenWell system clips together and creates a clean separation layer between the soil and water reservoir. The WaterStem directs the water into the reservoir which minimizes mess. However, even with some mixing of soil and water, the wicking system is designed to continue functioning properly, so you don’t have to worry about soil clogging and preventing the self-watering system from working.

      TROUBLESHOOTING

      In our beautiful coastal climate, LifeSpace Gardens can continue to thrive over the winter with certain vegetables planted. We recommend with our mobile CondoFarm series to pull them back under the roof line, protecting plants and cedar from the intense winter rains. However our gardens are built to last and stained with high quality finish, so even our larger yard and rooftop gardens will survive the winter, while growing your winter garden. If you choose not to grow over the winter, then covering with a tarp or BBQ cover will help keep your garden protected.

      LifeSpace Gardens have specially designed our CondoFarm series with balcony farmers in mind. The design of our gardens and the GardenWell system helps protect plants from the added pressure of balcony heat and wind. All of our CondoFarm models are mobile and rest on strong low-profile wheels, allowing the balcony farmer to move their garden easily underneath the roof line on exceptionally windy days, or adjust location to best suit the sun.

      We suggest planting heat-loving plants if you are on a Southern-facing balcony (tomatoes, peppers, basil, cucumbers, herbs) and shade tolerant plants if you are on a Northern facing balcony (lettuce, spinach, peas, arugula, radish, broccoli).

      LifeSpace Garden’s Condo Farms are designed especially with condo balcony restrictions in mind. Each garden is lined with waterproof FS Liner, keeping the soil neatly contained and water exactly where it should be. The reservoir is filled directly through a WaterStem with a hose, jug or watering container to assure a spill-free process. All excess water is directed to the OverFlow spout which can easily be hooked up to a hose or contained with a small bowl placed underneath.

      GENERAL GARDEN SPECS

      LifeSpace Gardens are locally handcrafted in North Vancouver in our shop at 8-262 East Esplanade. Materials are locally sourced to find the highest quality supplies used to craft our long-lasting and beautiful gardens.

      Loaded with soil, plants and a full water reservoir, the garden weigh about 75lbs per sqf.

    • Condo Farms:
    • LowRider: 14"W x 38"L x 15"H

      HighRise:  19"W x 41"L x 33"H

      SaladBar:  20-31"W x 44"L x 33"H

      We build LifeSpace Gardens with sustainability at the forefront. The cedar we source takes a long time to grow, so we make it our mission to build your garden to last for years and years. Just as you would do with a deck or fence, refinish the Gardens every few years to help them last to their full potential. Your LifeSpace Garden will become as much a part of your family as your home.

      We've found that the maximum effective soil depth to get the most out of GardenWell’s capillary action is 8-12", any deeper and the top really dries out. This is okay with trees and most perennials, but not with veggies. The soil depth for CondoFarms is 8” and Yard Gardens is 12”.

      8" of top soil is enough to grow almost any veggie you could think of... from tomatoes to potatoes. A ready source of nutrients (good soil) and consistent moisture levels (self-watering) are really what are most important. Root systems change when there’s a constant water source. They do not need to reach deep down to find water.

      Maintenance

      Depending on your climate, LifeSpace Gardens can continue to thrive over the winter by planting hardy vegetables. We recommend with our mobile CondoFarm series to pull them back under the roof line, and against your house protecting plants and cedar from the intense winter rains. However LifeSpace Gardens are built to last so even our stationary yard gardens will easily survive the winter. If you choose not to grow over the winter, then covering with a tarp, BBQ cover, or wood board will help keep your garden protected.

      If you live in the coastal regions of British Columbia, your fall veggies should be done around early November. If you do not, pay attention to the frost dates in your region. Once the frost hits, it’s time to get your LifeSpace garden ready for winter. Please note that all the elements of your LifeSpace Garden both internal and external, are very adaptable to the weather.

      1. Reservoir: If your garden is under cover, we recommend draining your reservoir. If it is not under cover, your reservoir will drain and refill naturally with the rain. This is absolutely fine. The FS Liner, the GardenWells, and the cedar will flex and bend with the ice and the rain without cracking or breaking. However, a good clean of the reservoir with Enzyme Complete or a light soap is recommended, as pests and disease can overwinter in your reservoir.
      2. Cedar: Cedar is native to the West Coast and is very accustomed to our winters, it does not need any extra protection from the cold. If you wish to prolong the life of your stain from the harshness of the bitter wind putting a tarp or greenhouse film over your garden is a good idea. This means that you will not need to do stain touch ups or re-stain your garden as often.

      Overwintering your garden is not an exact science and will require some trial.

      1. Extending fall into winter for the Vancouver Lower Mainland: Using mulch, cold frames, cloches or row covers will extend your harvest into the winter months. Endive, radicchio, spinach, bok choi, radish and mustard greens are great examples of crops that you can plant mid october and protect for a winter harvest. If you have a condo farm, roll it against a wall or under cover, to give a little extra protection to your plants. If you live a colder climate, extending fall veggies may not be an option, we highly suggest doing some experimentation to see what works best for your space.
      1. Prepare your garden: It is so important to clean up your garden after your fall veggies have ended their cycles. Pests and disease can over winter in the soil. Make sure you clean up the debris, the decaying plant matter and do a thorough weed to ensure your garden will not carry anything into the next growing season. An Enzyme Complete cleanse of your soil is recommended.
      1. Edibles and cover crops: If the plan is to grow food over the winter, there are a few options. Brussel Sprouts become sweeter the colder it gets, they can tolerate -10 for a couple of days, and if planted in the fall, will be ready for Christmas. Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower will also overwinter in coastal climates, ready for a January or February harvest. Just get them in the ground before the end of September, so they can establish a healthy root system for the colder months. Broad beans will over winter and be ready for you come early spring. Choose a dwarf variety, especially if you live in a colder climate, tall and tender plants will not survive. They are also a nitrogen fixer, adding nutrients back into the soil for your new season of planting. Overwintering crops in colder climates presents more of a challenge, and we absolutely suggest doing some experimentation. However, cover crops may be a more achievable option than edibles. Some cold weather cover crops include fava beans (hardy to -17), winter field peas (hardy to -23) and crimson clover (hardy to -23). Avoid planting garlic and fava or broad beans together, it will stunt growth!

      If you would like more options, and ideas on overwintering veggies or a full schedule of starting seeds visit www.westcoastseeds.com

      1. Mulch: Mulching your garden over the winter is a must, especially if you plan on growing through the winter months. Mulching is used to slow the temperature changes in the soil, and not necessarily to keep the soil warmer. The soil will still freeze, it will just happen at a slower rate. This will prevent shock to root systems if you are overwintering veggies. Using a thick layer of leaves on your garden is the easiest and most cost effective mulch. It also provides a wonderful nutrient fix come spring. Gather leaves from your neighborhood and spread over your garden, be sure to pile it up around the plants you intend on overwintering. If you do not plan on keeping veggies growing over winter, wait until the ground freezes to prevent rodents from burrowing. Other mulching options include cardboard, straw, bark chips and sawdust.

      GROWING FOOD

      LifeSpace Gardens are designed for high-density growing. By eliminating the wasted space of traditional row gardening, you can eliminate the space for weeds to compete, and produce very high yields in a small space. Our gardens use only 20% of the space of traditional methods to produce the same amount of food!

      One Heirloom garden can produce enough greens for a salad for one person every day of the growing season. Two Heirlooms will produce a salad and daily supper vegetables for one person. Three Heirlooms will produce a salad, daily supper vegetables, and enough leftover to preserve.

      To illustrate what this looks like, here is what can be produced in a single Heirloom in one spring season:

      • one head of cabbage
      • one head of broccoli
      • one head of cauliflower
      • four heads of romaine lettuce
      • four heads of red lettuce
      • four heads of leaf lettuce
      • sixteen scallions
      • four heads of salad lettuce
      • five pounds of sugar peas
      • eight bunches of Swiss chard
      • nine bunches of spinach
      • nine turnips
      • thirty-two carrots
      • sixteen beets, plus four bunches beet greens
      • thirty-two radishes

        The majority of vegetables grow better in self-watering LifeSpace Gardens than they do in traditional containers, with the exception of some herbs like dill and cilantro who prefer fairly dry soil conditions. Most plants need more water than is available in a traditional container, and they don’t like the constant cycle of wet to dry.

        Some of the vegetables that absolutely thrive in self-watering LifeSpace conditions are:

        • artichokes
        • arugula
        • basil
        • beans
        • borage
        • broccoli
        • brussel sprouts
        • bush beans
        • cabbage
        • carrots
        • cauliflower
        • chives
        • cucumber
        • eggplant
        • kohlrabi
        • leeks
        • lettuce
        • mustard greens
        • onions
        • pak choi
        • peppers
        • summer squash
        • swiss chard
        • tomatoes
        • turnips

          LifeSpace Gardens are lined with food safe and waterproof lining to protect your plants from any chemicals. We advocate the use of organic soil and chemical-free gardening methods so that you can grow safe and nutritious food.

          PEST CONTROL

          General:

          • When buying plants at the nursery, check the undersides of all leaves for infestation before buying and bringing home.
          • Attract beneficial predators like ladybugs, praying mantis and green lacewing to the garden to feed on pests by planting flowering foods like sweet clover, white alyssum, nasturtium, yarrow, fennel, chervil, coriander, morning glory, and caraway.
          • Mix up plantings to encourage biodiversity and practice crop rotation.
          • Specialized crop protection (which we can custom build) is your best defense against larger pests like deer, raccoons, and skunks.

          Specific:

          • Flea Beetles- Keep plants well pruned, take off old wilted leaves around stems and dispose of all organic waste away from the garden. Cover susceptible plants with a lightweight row cover.
          • Aphids- Hot pepper wax or garlic spray on plants will repel. Yellow sticky traps capture aphids during winged phase. After they have arrived, a spray of water directed at the underside of leaves can remove.
          • Cabbage Worms- Cover brassicas with lightweight row covers.
          • Colorado Potato Beetle- Check undersides of leaves for bright orange eggs and crush. Handpick any adults or babies and remove.
          • Cucumber Beetles- Cover cucumbers with lightweight row covers, removing for 2 hours in the morning a couple times a week for pollination to occur.
          • Earwigs- Trap in moist, dark places like moistened, rolled up newspapers left overnight.
          • Tomato Hornworms- Handpick and remove.
          • Snails and Slugs: Raised gardens generally won’t experience slugs; surround LSG Low Rider with sawdust or crushed eggshells to prevent infestation. Planting a small mason jar of beer leaving an inch at the drop will attract and drown slugs. *Link to PG vid?