Category Archives: Urban Gardening

How to Plan Your Perfect Tower Garden

Spring is in the air! Here in the Pacific Northwest the plum and cherry trees blossoms have come and for the most part are already gone, being replaced with new leaf growth. Now is the time to begin to plan what you are going to be growing this year in your Tower Gardens. There are 3 important steps to planning and planting a Tower Garden:

Photo of Tower Garden with new plant growth.

Tower Garden in my greenhouse with plants just a few weeks old.

  • Find the ideal location
  • Picking the right plants based on your preference and growing conditions
  • Stocking up on necessary supplies

If this is your first season planting on brand new Tower Garden that you just purchased from me you will need a location with about a 2.5 square foot print with the following things:

  1. Find the Ideal Location
  • Light

If you want a productive Tower Garden (and who doesn’t), most plants need 6-8 hours of full sun or 14 – 16 hours under grow lights. Check your seed packet labels for plant-specific light requirements. If you grown outside in a location such as Arizona with intense summer heat, keep in mind your plants will need to be protected from the hot afternoon sun.

Tower Tip: If your Tower Garden sits in a location where only one side receives sun light such as against a wall, rotate it a quarter turn each day. This will achieve balanced growth. This is the easiest to day with a Tower Garden Dolly.

  • Water

Since Tower Garden uses a water + nutrients solution instead of soil to grow plants, a nearby source for clean water is critical. It’s best not to use softened, heavily chlorinated or very hard water. Not sure if you have hard water? Take a look at this water hardness map (you can also request a free water test strip via the same link).

Tower Tip: To remove chlorine, fill a bucket with marked gallon marks so you know how much water is in it. Let it sit outdoors for in the sun for two days (48 hours). This will evaporate the chlorine from the water. Then add the appropriate amount of Tower Tonic to the water to fill up the reservoir. I keep several 2.5 gallon buckets on hand with water ready to add Tower Tonic too. This way I always have water ready when needed to add to my Tower Gardens.

  • Electricity

You’ll need electricity to run the pump (and lights if you’re growing indoors). If your growing outside, ensure safety with a waterproof connection protector.

  • Level Location

    Photo of Tower Garden reservoir with wedges.

    Floor in my greenhouse is not level. Wedge was not enough. I used a piece of scrap plywood and wood to level reservoir.

Wherever you put your Tower Garden, make sure it is level, as this is essential for proper operation. When putting Tower Gardens outside I always use a bubble level to ensure it is level. I often use wooden wedges to slide under the reservoir to level it. If you are locating your Tower Garden in a garage remember the floor slopes toward the door and you will be to level it.

  1. Pick Plants

The next step is the most fun, picking your plants! As you do this think about the following:

  • Your food preferences

What produce will you actually use? To answer this, consider what you typically bring home from the supermarket. For example, I use lots of greens – such as kale, chard and lettuce – almost daily for salads, stir-fries and other dishes. So two of my Tower Gardens are filled with greens year round. Identify what you use on a regular basis, and add these to your list of plants to grow.

Produce that you only buy occasionally or goes bad before you use it will likely just take up space in your Tower Garden. Unless you’re thinking about changing your eating habits, think twice before growing such plants.

  • Produce price and availability

Tired of emptying our your wallet for fresh basil? Can’t find your favorite variety of tomato? Whether you want lower costs or more options, there’s a solution: grow your own! You’ll likely find yourself with more free basil than you can use. You’ll impress your friends with amount of quality, great tasting produce you will grow.

  • Growing conditions

Now that you’ve got an idea of what you want to grow, let’s refine the list by looking at growing conditions. While some plants – such as chard, collard greens and kale – tolerate a range of temperatures, most prefer either cool or warm weather. What you grow depends on location and season.

Since spring is just around the corner, greens and herbs are good choices for most gardeners starting now. If you’re lucky enough to have mild winters by living in a place such as Florida, the list of what you can grow this time of year is longer.

List of 16 super spring crops.

These plants grow well in the cooler temperatures of spring.

 

This list isn’t exhaustive, of course. Want to learn what else you can grow? There are several planting schedulers. My favorite is The Old Farmers Almanac, which shows when to start seeds and when to expect to harvest, based on your location. A online service that does this well is All Things Plants. If you’re willing to create your own planting schedule manually, seed packet labels often indicate when to sow and harvest based on your plant hardiness zone. If you are growing indoors, season and your location don’t really matter provide you are using grow lights.

How to grow a healthy Tower Garden graphic.

Use this guide to determine how many plants you need and how to arrange them.

As a general rule, you want to arrange plants like a pyramid. Put larger and vining plants, such as squash and tomatoes, on the bottom. Avoid planting more than 4 of these, as they crowd out other plants. Put smaller plants such as lettuce and herbs, on top. Placing larger plants beside smaller growing plants is another strategy. This will help to ensure they have enough room to grow.

Photo of all the supplies that come with your Tower Garden.

Make sure you are stocked up will everything you need to get growing.

Have everything figured out? Download and print this planting plan (PDF) and fill in the blanks with you you’ll grow to document your plan. Click here to go to our blog listing growers of plant starts for your Tower Garden.

Tower Tip: Get detailed instructions for 11 different plants in the Resource Center.

 1. Secure Growing Supplies

Congratulation, you’ve made a glorious plan! Don’t forget to make sure you have everything you need to actually get growing. At a minimum, you’ll need the following supplies:

While not essential, you may want to consider these accessories.

Photo of Tower Garden covered with Tower Blanket

Tower Blanket covering one of my towers.

  • Tomato Cage or Trellis – Larger vining plants such as tomatoes or squash, need extra support for healthy growth.
  • Weather Protection Blanket – This can protect your plants from late frosts and cooler spring nights. It’s also useful for preventing heat stress in the summer.
  • Tower Dolly – Planning to move your Tower Garden around much? A dolly makes that pretty simple.

Click over to the Tower Garden Store to order any supplies you may need.

 

Summary and Next Steps

To recap, the 3 essentials of Tower Garden planning are:

  1. Finding the best location to grow
  2. Picking the right plants based on your preference and growing conditions
  3. Stocking up on necessary supplies

Once you have the essentials covered, you’ll be well on your way to growing a successful Tower Garden.

Ready to execute your plan? Here are some helpful resources:

Are you psyched about the approaching growing season? If you have any questions use the contact form below to contact me.

Tower Garden Seedling Farms

10 Tower Garden Seedling Farms

If you are looking for the most convenient way to start your Tower Garden, seedlings are the way to go.

Photo of lettuce that I am growing from a seedling start.

Lettuce that I am growing from a seedling start.

I have not purchased seedlings from all of these providers. I have purchased from two of them. So I can’t offer any personal commentary on most of the following list. Their are several positive reviews on the Tower Garden Facebook page.

These are certified Future Growing Tower Garden Farms, which means they grow seedlings specifically for Tower Gardens. (i.e. they’re already growing in rockwool cubes, so you don’t have to wash dirt off the roots before transplanting).

Tower Tip: If you choose to purchase seedlings from a local nursery instead, select only those with perfectly formed leaves and no evidence of bug presence. Damage leaves typically means plants have been sprayed for pests.

Providers that ship seedlings and offer on-site pick up:

Living Towers, Eustis, Florida

Montecito Urban Farms, Santa Barbara, Califorina

ATL Urban Farms, Cumming, Georgia

Nature Crisp, Soperton, Georgia

True Garden, Mesa, Arizonia

Providers that offer on-site pickup only:

Santa Barbara Urban Farms, Santa Barbara, California

Chapala Gardens, Santa Barbara, California

So Cal Urban Farms, San Diego, California

Iron Towers, Middletown, Connecticut

Sunrise Hydroponics Amish Farm. Available Saturday mornings at: South Bend Farmers Market, 1105 Northside Blvd, South Bend, IN 46615.

Additional Resources

Once you’ve got them, be sure to read how to start your seeds (page 7) and or transplant your seedlings. If you prefer to watch rater than head, here is a great video tutorial.

And don’t forget about the 11 growing guides in the Resource Center of my website. They cover everything from planting to pest control. Review this information to ensure your new plants flourish.

Happy Growing!

If you wish to contact me use the form below.

Tower Garden Strawberries are the best ever

You’ll be amazed at the luscious strawberries you will grow! Even my berries that are just turning pink taste better than any strawberry from the grocery store! You can buy aeroponic starts in season. Last year, I missed that season so I purchased ever bearing root starts, thoroughly rinsed off the soil, and put them into the rock wool. You can see last year’s post by clicking here.

You know how strawberries send out runners! Those young plants are what you want for next years crop. I let a couple dozen runners develop on last year’s Tower Garden. In the fall, I cut the starts off, planted them, and covered them with straw for the winter. Worked perfectly. Just saved myself a bunch of money with minimal labor!

Here is a short video of this year’s process.

Since we still have an occasional night time freeze Bob put a standard fish tank 20 gallon water heater in the reservoir to keep the roots about 60 to 65 degrees. This further protects the starts and speeds up their growth, I suggest a landscape cloth called “row cover“. It’s a very fine weave material that allows light to pass through and will raise the temperature from 2 to 5 degrees around your plants.

Young strawberry starts ready for spring in my Tower Garden.

Young strawberry starts ready for spring in my Tower Garden.

Small plants are better than mature plants when planting your Tower Garden.

Small plants are better than mature plants when planting your Tower Garden.

Tower Garden covered with row cover fastened  with cloths pins.

Row cover added to protect strawberries from freezing. I secured with cloths pins, but you can use anything.

 

Links to past blog posts about growing strawberries in my Tower Gardens.

http://backyardtowergarden.com/2015/03/15/tower-garden-getting-ready-for-new-strawberry-crop/

http://backyardtowergarden.com/2013/10/31/tower-garden-halloween-strawberries/

You can contact me using the form below:

Healthy Living Linda’s Fresh Kale Salad

Fresh kale is a bit difficult to chew sufficiently so that our stomachs can digest it and get the full benefit. My recipe tells how to overcome this objection.

Linda's Kale Salad made with chopped apple, onion; sliced almonds, rice vinegar, feta cheese is rich in protein.

Linda’s Kale Salad ready to serve as part of a healthy meal rich in protein.

All ingredients are approximate.

Two cups of packed fresh kale. I like to mix varieties and use the youngest leaves possible.

Tear the leaves in to small pieces. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Massage with your fingers for 1-2 minutes. Cover and set aside for half an hour.

Now add to the bowl

Six varietes of fresh picked kale from my Tower Garden in a pan.

Six varieties of fresh kale picked from my Tower Garden ready for me use in my kale salad.

½ chopped apple

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar (other vinegars may be used)

1 Tablespoon feta cheese, optional

1 Tablespoon sliced almonds or chopped walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds.

Gently mix and serve.

Converting to more vegan meals? Kale has

Kale in a bowl with olive oil and salt added.

Kale with olive oil and salt added.

-more iron than beef

– more fiber, beef has zero

-more calcium than dairy

– kale contains large quantities of antioxidants, meat has zero

– kale has anti-inflammatory properties, meat’s cause inflammation, as in arthritis and digestive issues.

From a sustainability perspective, kale grows to maturity in 55 to 60 days versus a cow raised for beef for an average of 18-24 months. Kale can grow in most climates and is relatively easy and low impact to grow at home or on a farm. To raise one pound of beef requires 16 pounds of grain, 11 times as much fossil fuel and more than 2,400 gallons of water.

Please contact me using the form below.

Tower Garden Getting Ready For New Strawberry Crop

Today Bob took the Tower Garden I use to grow strawberries in each year and got it ready for me to plant. He took the black plastic 30 gallon trash bags off. My Tower Garden was still clean just the way I left it after cleaning it at the end of the growing season in October. To see how I clean the Tower Garden click here. The Tower Garden did get blown over when we had a storm with winds up to 70 MPH gusts. Their was no water in the reservoir to weight it down since it was winter time. This caused the pods to get out of alinement. It was easy to just take off the wing nuts on the top of the Tower Garden too just pull it apart and put it back together all lined up. A five minute job!

Last fall we got some very heavy rains that caused the water to lay around the Tower Gardens and not drain off. This caused the circuit breaker to pop due to getting water in the plug connections. Bob took a piece of bamboo from our scrap pile and pounded it into the ground and hung the timer from  it with a nylon wire tie to keep the connections out of the water. Will see how this works out this growing season. I will be posting a new blog next week showing you how I planted my strawberries.

Tower Garden Urban Vertical Garden

Took cover off Tower Garden today after outdoor winter storage and it was still clean. The pods got out of alinement when wind blew it over on its side.

Tower Garden Vertical Urban Gardening

Tower Garden filled with water ready for planting.

Tower Garden Urban Vertical Gardening

Tower Garden timer hanging from pole to keep out of the water.

Other blog posts about growing Strawberries in my Tower Garden.

http://backyardtowergarden.com/2013/10/31/tower-garden-halloween-strawberries/

http://backyardtowergarden.com/2013/08/15/tower-garden-strawberry-crop/

You can contact me using the form below.

 

 

Tower Garden Has Higher Yield University of Mississippi Study Shows

The University of Mississippi published a research paper about growing vegetables in a Tower Garden. The study reveals that plants grown in aeroponic systems show a higher product yield and

Tower Garden Urban Vertical Gardening

Researchers have confirmed that the Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ grew more, faster than conventional gardens.

comparable antioxidant properties compared to those grown in soil. OleMiss planted 24 Tower Gardens with basil, chard, parsley, red kale, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and squash. The full study can be read by clicking here.

If you have any questions contact me using the form below.

 

 

 

king here.