vertical garden toronto

Someone in Toronto is building vertical gardens for condo dwellers

If you live in a tiny Toronto condo unit with no garden in sight, don't quash your green thumb dreams just yet. 

Michael Giel, owner of Made by Mikey, can build you a vertical garden small enough to sit on a condo balcony but deep enough to grow any herb or edible flower you want. 

Giel has done it himself: the Parkdale resident lives in an apartment with his partner, and over one summer, they were able to make 22 jars of pesto with their homegrown basil. 

Standing 40 inches high and 26 inches wide, the vertical gardens have three self-draining compartments that allow plants to root down  seven inches. 

vertical garden toronto

Michael Giel makes vertical gardens compact enough to fit on condo balconies. Photo courtesy of Made by Mikey.

It's not deep enough to accommodate taproot systems like tomato plants, but it's plenty of room for oregano, arugula, chives and most peppers to sprout. Considering you're living in a box in the sky, that's pretty impressive.

Giel, an actor and craftsman who does everything from build storage solutions to custom frames and furniture out of his own Parkdale home, has been selling vertical gardens for the past three years. 

But for the first time ever, he started advertising his vertical gardens online. So far the response has been "pretty overwhelming." 

"I think people have realized en masse that food sovereignty is really important and people see the value of growing their own food," he says. 

With fewer Torontonians being able to afford real estate with backyards, more people are turning their condos and apartments into plant oases. All you need is three to five hours of direct sunlight to run your own organic garden, says Giel.

vertical garden toronto

The vertical gardens are deep enough to grow any herbs, edible flowers, and most peppers. Photo via Made by Mikey.

Spurred to make healthier versions of some vertical gardens being sold online—which are stained with unhealthy materials like Minwax or petroleum-based colours — Giel coats his gardens with nutrient-rich beeswax instead.  

He gets the beeswax from an apiary in Orangeville, and tries to source Canadian spruce and pine from local businesses.

"These days, it's about making your own opportunities," says Giel. 

"I'm all for people running businesses out of their own kitchens and doing what they can...The best acting advice I never received is know how to do something else other than acting." 

He's now taking pre-orders and deposits, $50, for the gardens. Paid in full, they cost $125. It's an extra $25 if you want them delivered anywhere in the Toronto area. 

Lead photo by

Made by Mikey


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