Many people don’t have a garden because they feel they don’t have the space. However, Shawna Coronado is here to tell you that you don’t need a lot of space to grow some of your own food!

In her book, Grow a Living Wall, Shawna teaches you how to create a vertical garden that will allow you to grow more food in limited spaces. She was kind enough to sit down with Earth911 and share a little bit about how her passion for gardening developed and why you should grow a vertical garden too.

Shawna at home in the garden.
Shawna at home in the garden.

What inspired you to leave your corporate job and become a green lifestyle evangelist?

When I realized I was working in a corporate environment, taking over a dozen prescriptions a day to support all my stress-related illnesses, and I was at my lowest point of happiness in relationship to work satisfaction in my life I knew I had to do something significant to change. As I walked out of that horrible office, I didn’t know what the future held for me, but living a life I enjoyed seemed so much more appealing. When I left I had to find a way to make that happen. I enjoyed garden and design, so I went from working in an office to working outdoors. During that process I discovered that the more time I spent outdoors and the less time I spent exposed to chemicals, the less asthma symptoms I had. This began a year of change where I explored using less cleaning chemicals, eating more organic and making smarter choices about what came into contact with my family and our life.

What sparked your interest in gardening?

Gardening is in my blood – I grew up in a farm in central Indiana and our lives were centered on growing. We had an old-fashioned country row garden – it was big with lots of room for things like pumpkins and watermelon and row upon row of bush peas. It wasn’t complicated and there were no heavy chemicals in our little garden; just tomatoes and love. I can remember the special smell of the tomato vines and the sweet scent of the peas in flower. Life was slow in the hot summers in Indiana. Crickets, worms and soil, and my little 6 year old hands making that connection between soil and plant. This is a connection everyone should have.

Shady Side Yard Wide Angle

Why should people consider growing a vertical garden?

Vertical gardens can be remarkably simple to grow – just put four or five window boxes on a wall or fence on top of one another utilizing brackets. In this fashion you can grow over 40 plants in less than a square foot. There are typically no weeds. So with a living wall you can have a garden that supports hundreds of plants, but never have to weed it.

What’s the easiest way to get started with vertical gardening?

Whether you buy a system for a living wall or make your own system with a window box style planter, the best and easiest way to get started is to focus on the soil. Having a heavier soil mix enables the boxes to hold more water for a longer period of time and therefore provide needed moisture to the root systems without drying out. My recommended formula for standard vegetables and herbs is 1/3 rotted composted manure, 1/3 organic potting soil and 1/3 compost.

Culinary Kitchen Garden Vertical with Shawna
Culinary Kitchen Garden Vertical with Shawna

If there’s one thing that you hope readers take away from your book, what would it be?

Growing more plants in less space means you can provide more food for your family and community. It also means that you might provide more pollinating plants for the environment, more plants to enhance and increase your home’s value, more herbs for therapeutic gardens; it means more of everything. In considering our nation’s food crisis, I wonder if it might be solved by more active growing by individuals who are end-consumers versus exclusive mass growing by giant corporations who don’t know our individual needs for the food for our family.

Grow a Living Wall is a book built to inspire possibilities in growing and make it easy for people to do so at home.

About the Author

Shawna is an author, columnist, blogger, photographer, radio show host and brand ambassador with green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and culinary who campaigns for social good. She is also an on-camera spokesperson and social media personality with over 360,000+ followers on her various social media venues and more than 200 videos on YouTube with over a million views. She co-hosts “The Good Green Home Show” which is a radio show promoting healthy home living, regularly appears on national television, and hosts the FOX News team bi-weekly at her home garden as the FOX News Chicago organic gardening expert. Shawna’s garden and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues including PBS television. Her successful organic living photographs and stories have been shown both online and off in many international home and garden magazines and multiple books. You can learn more about her at

Images courtesy of Shawna Coronado 


By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.