Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tower Garden Set-Up

Four days after I placed my order at DC's Green Festival, the Tower Garden arrived.  I was impressed with the timeliness of delivery!  It came in 3 boxes:  1 containing the tower, 1 containing the cage, and 1 containing the grow lights.  When opening up the boxes, be sure to locate all the papers and put them in a safe place.  In addition, open the plastic label container outside the tomato cage or grow light kit box- it contains extra seeds!

I spread a trash bag on the floor where I planned to set up the tower garden, to protect the floor.

Assembly of the tower was straightforward.  Directions were easy to follow.  Denise had sent me helpful online instructions as well, and I had watched the online tutorials.  
One important thing to note:  when filling the base with water/plant food use half strength Tower Tonic A and B.  This is noted in both online and paper instructions, but would be easy to miss.  I used 1/2 gallon mason jars and used filtered water.  I added the first 10 gallons, then added Tower Tonic A, then added 5 more gallons, then Tower Tonic B, then added the last 5 gallons of water.  The intial pH was 5.5.

I had ordered the seedlings from Living Towers and True Garden the same day I purchased the Tower Garden, and they arrived at the same time as the Tower Garden: four days later!  Both companies sent seedlings with strong shoots.
Living Towers Seedlings: Swiss Chard, Peppermint, Tarragon, Basil, Chives, Dill, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Squash, Sugar Snap Peas.
Overall, the seedlings from Living Towers were in excellent condition.  Most were young, fresh shoots.  The mint did have one leaf that with brown discoloration.  The cilantro looked fragile, but we'll see how it transplants.  The worst thing about the Living Towers shipment was the difficulty of removing the seedlings.  You have to remove wooden chopsticks from the sides before the seedlings can be removed, and it is very difficult to get the seedlings out without lifting the shoots themselves.  I ended up using the chopsticks to lift them out, but the process was not simple.
True Garden: Spinach, Green Onion, Rosemary, Eggplant, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, and Tomatoes
It was much easier to remove the plants from True Garden's packaging.  In addition, the company specifically states that many of the seedlings are grown organically.  Unfortunately, the plants were packaged in non-biodegradable plastic packing peanuts.  In addition, if you look carefully at the image above, you will see the sage, thyme and rosemary have leaves that are browning.  The leaves on the spinach are yellowing.  Still, most of these plants should flourish.  Some just required heavy pruning.
Eggplant + Tarragon
I placed 2 plants in some net pots.  I haven't found any other blogs where people have tried this, so it will be an experiment!  The tarragon came with 4 shoots, so I split it 2 and 2, and put one half with the eggplant and the other with sugar peas.  I chose pairings based on an online search of companion planting.  I ended up changing some of the parings from my initial plan due to the strength of certain seedlings.
Eggplant + Tarragon
Somehow I lost the instructions for assembling the cage.  Thankfully, Peggy Sheridan has posted them on a youtube video: Installing the Tomato Cage on the Tower Garden.

Setting up the timers was not intuitive.  Jill Jacoby has a helpful youtube video:  Tower Garden Timer.  The light timer is set up in the same way as the watering timer.  One thing to note:  you want the watering timer on "timer mode" so it will be on 15 min and off 45 min when inside.  The total process took 3 hours to complete.  I am still awaiting the organic seeds and the strawberry plants, so more posts to come when those arrive!  Below is a short video of the final set-up.


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