A customers questions about seed starting in the Tower Garden
Q: At this time of the year, can I start seeds directly in the Tower Garden?
A: Regardless of the season, always start your seeds in the Seedling Starter Kit that comes with the Tower Garden. Of course, use fresh rock wool for the seeds. Cover the seeds with the vermiculite, just like the instructions for the first time you planted. I like to keep the seeds dark until sprouted, then give them filtered sunshine for about a week, then move to full sunlight.
Q: Can I start lettuce when our temperatures are 85 degrees and above?
A: Lettuce is a cool weather plant so for sure you would need to provide shade. You’d also want to have shade on the reservoir since the water gets very hot when the ambient temperature is above 85. Personally, I’m waiting until our day time temps are consistently below 80. Then I’ll start some kale and collard greens that will grow all winter long inside my green house.
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What affects do the high temperatures have on your Tower Garden?
Tower Blanket covering one of my towers.
Here in the Pacific Northwest we are having a real heat wave. Temperatures have been in the 80’s and 90’s for the past two weeks.
During periods of extreme heat, plants are being stressed when temperatures are above 85 degrees. The plants will literally begin to cook! They need more water as they deal with the loss of water by evaporation through their leaves.
It is important to check the water level daily. Keep the Tower Garden reservoir full at all times.
If you can, have buckets of water sitting out a day in advance to let the chlorine evaporate. During times when the plants are using a lot of water, only add Tower Tonic about every third addition. Too high concentration of minerals is not good for the plants.
You may need to protect your plants from too much hot sun. Just like people, your plants can be “sunburned” during times of high temperature. Use a plant cover cloth such as the Tower Blanket to cover your Tower Garden. This could be especially important in the hot afternoon.
I run the pump continuous and sometimes hand spray the Tower Garden plants.
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See how long the stems are on the chard and kale plants of this Tower Garden.
This is a Tower Garden that I planted last November before Thanksgiving. It spent the coldest part of the winter in my greenhouse with grow lights. There just isn’t enough daylight this far north to grow in the winter without grow lights. I took it outside in March, and put an aquarium heater in the water reservoir to keep the water at 65 degrees which is important. That is the perfect soil and water temperature for maximum growth.
It’s now the last week of June 2015. We’ve been eating Chard greens from this Tower Garden since Christmas. Notice how long the steams on the Chard plant have grown because we pick the older leaves and leave the tip to continue growing. The stem climbed higher searching for ever more sunlight. It is amazing how these plants have been in this Tower Garden for 7 months now and just keep on growing and producing leaves for us to eat. The weather has been very hot here the past week which has caused the Chard plants to begin to bolt and get too tough. I am now going to harvest the leaves. I’m going to plant new starts in this Tower Garden for a second crop. Since plants grow 30% faster in a Tower Garden I expect to get a third crop before we get a hard frost.
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Here is the link to a online article I came across. Great story about how vertical gardening is being used in urban areas by restaurants and even grocery stores to grow fresh produce using Tower Gardens.
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Our Tower Gardens are now just full of fresh produce ready to harvest! We will be harvesting and replanting at once for our second crop of this growing season. We have been eating from our Tower Gardens for several months now. Going out daily and picking fresh greens to make our morning Green Shake or for fresh salads. We have kale and chard plants that we have been eating from since December! It is now the last week of June and the heat is beginning to make them bolt, so it is time to replace them with new starts. Seven months of eating from these plants. That to me is remarkable!
Lettuce has been a staple vegetable for us. We eat one or two salads daily. Our Tower Gardens keep us supplied with the lettuce we need year round. We use grow lights and bring the towers inside for the winter.
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Doug Barlow uses sun reflectors to shine more light on his Tower Gardens.
Do you have a problem with the only location you have for your Tower Gardens not getting enough light during the day? Doug Barlow has this problem. His home has a high bluff on the east side that keeps that side of the house in a shadow most of the day. On the west side of the house the sun doesn’t directly light the yard area until afternoon. Having enough light is always a challenge. To help him get the maximum amount of light shining on his Tower Gardens Doug has put automobile window sun reflectors around his Tower Gardens. The sun’s rays are reflected from the deck surface onto the vegetables planted in the towers, giving them more sunlight. If you have a similar problem where buildings or land features are blocking the sun causing your Tower Gardens to be in a shadow much of the day, this idea will help you to make maximum use of the sun’s rays.
Tower Gardens on Doug Barlow’s patio with automobile sun reflectors around their bases.
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Harvesting Zucchini from my Tower Garden.
Are your Zucchini or Tomato plants growing like crazy in your Tower Garden? Do they have had lots of flowers but are giving little or no fruit? If you are experiencing this, it could be caused by a lack of pollination due to the decline of the native bee population. Today more gardeners have to manually pollinate their fruiting crops by hand pollination. Learning this skill is becoming important to insure a bountiful harvest from not only your Tower Garden, but vegetable plants and fruit plants planted in the soil.
What crops need to be pollinated?
All fruit plants and vegetable plants that have flowers need to be pollinated.
Self Pollinating Plants
Some plants contain both male and female parts to self pollinate and produce fruit. Some of these are:
- Some Cucumbers
- Some Cucumbers
Separate Male and Female Flowers
Signs that you need to Manually Pollinate
- You see no bees, butterflies, or other pollinators such as flies
- You are growing inside
- Flowers or immature fruit shrivel up and fall off the plant before the fruit sets on
- Plant dies
Watch this short video to learn how to pollinate all plants.
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