Over the years we have seen all kinds of Tower Gardeners. Some of the best Tower Gardeners are kids, but why is that? Because they read the instructions and do just what it says you should do. No more, no less and they DON’T OVER THINK IT! KISS = Keep It Super Simple!
I’ve said a number of times that the Tower Garden is “The Easiest Garden on Earth”. It really is, providing you do as little as possible to it. Don’t baby it. Sometimes we are asked whether you need to do anything different when it rains. Do you move your in ground garden when it rains? Of course not, so why drag your Tower Garden in and out when it rains? Not only will you be reducing the number of hours of direct sunlight it receives, but by moving it unnecessarily you run the risk of damaging larger plants like squash, tomatoes, melons etc.
So what exactly do you need?
I figured out you really only need 5 things, YES 5 THINGS, to be successful with a Tower Garden. Each one is just as important as the next. I know, you are chomping at the bit to find out what they are. Below we breakdown each of them so that you too can be a successful Tower Gardener!
P.S. – I still cannot keep a houseplant alive so there is hope for you yet!
UV light is CRUCIAL! ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL It can come from the sun or from growlights. Lack of sunlight is, in my opinion, the BIGGEST reason growers are not successful on their first attempt. Without sun your plants are weak and more susceptible to both pests and diseases.
How much sun do I need? The short answer is, the more sun the better. Minimum hours of direct sunlight are shown below.
My seedlings/plants in my tower are long, stringy and pale. Why? They have not received enough sunlight and they have stretched in search of sunlight. This could happen as a result of filters on windows (if growing inside), not enough direct sunlight (shading caused by buildings, trees or other plants on the Tower Garden), screens (if growing in a screened room), grow lights are not close enough. If you started seedlings inside then you simply didn’t get them outside as soon as the seed germinated (split open). Unfortunately there is no way to reverse this once it has occurred. You can move them to a sunnier location but, in my experience, the plants are weak and do not always deal very well with the heat of the sun and often wilt then die. You can try but I would get some more seeds started in rockwool.
Can I grow my Tower Garden or start seedlings by a sunny window? As a rule, NO you cannot. Most modern windows will have a UV filter on them. What does a UV filter filter out? Yep, you got it, UV rays. The very same UV rays your plants need to absorb to grow into strong, healthy, productive crops. If it is a specially designed sunroom you may be able to. However, it is important to remember that your Tower is probably not going to receive sunlight all the way around, like it would outside. So you really need to half the number of hours of direct sunlight your Tower is receiving to get a better average of what each plant receives every day.
Can I grow my Tower inside a screened room? Possibly. Screens will give a certain amount of shade. On average, about 30% but some can provide much more. What if your screened room has a solid roof and sunlight only enters from the sides? Then only half of the Tower will be in direct sunlight at any one time like I described above. So if your Tower receives only 6 hours sun on one side you really need to half that to get a better understanding on how much sun the plants get on average.
It reaches 110+ where I live. Does the Tower Garden still need direct sunlight? YES!!! Plants will not survive without UV light. There are a number of things you can do during the hot summer months. Read our 8 Summer Time Growing Tips post.
It goes without saying that if we were to go without food we would eventually starve to death. Our plants need food too and in the Tower Garden that comes in the way of the Tower Tonic. Adding nutrients can sometimes confuse growers, but it really doesn’t have to. Click here to read a previous post I wrote on adding minerals, how much and when. The graphic below explains it in a nice easy way!
Water is also CRUCIAL for life. Just as important can be the source of the water. This will determine any treatment it has been through and if you need to do anything with it before growing plants. Cities add chlorine or chloramine to water to disinfect it, to kill germs. Why would we want to water our plants with it? If you search online you will find varying reports on whether chlorine is detrimental to plants. However, in my experience, it is! I wrote an in depth post on various water sources and the pros and cons for each here. If in doubt, filter the chlorine out!
It’s best to keep your pH between 5.5 and 6.5. When your pH drifts out of this range your plants have a hard time taking up minerals and they will yellow. No minerals = no food = no growth
Without electricity our pump doesn’t run and our plants are not watered. This one is a no brainer!
What can I do in a power outage? You have a couple of options. You can take the plants out and put them in a tote filled with water. Another option is to use a battery and an inverter. You could also add a solar panel to lengthen the running time of the battery. I have used a deep cycle marine battery to run a couple of towers at events for two days without a problem.
What else? Be vigilant when it comes to pests and diseases and treat them BEFORE it gets out of hand.