Tower Gardens review
We were given the opportunity to test the Tower Gardens hydroponic growing system for our first phase of the farmlab.one growing project. I will provide a review of our experience using Tower Gardens with the objective to assist individuals in choosing a hydroponic farming system that fits their needs.
If you’re looking for portability and easier transportation go with the 20 plant version.
There are two sizes of Tower Garden towers: one has 20 plant pots and the other has 28. The first two towers we used were the 28 plant towers, which are 6 feet (1.8 metres) tall. The second two towers we planted in where the smaller towers, which are fairly lighter and more portable which stand at 5 feet (1.5 metres) tall. Both towers were quite similar to each other in terms of functionality and design, although the 20 plant towers were much easier to move given their height and weight, although, given the fact they are both on wheels makes the weight easier to manage.
You can plug it in and start planting right away (if you have seedlings prepared of course).
When we received the towers the first thing we needed to do was attach the fluorescent lights. The lights themselves were quite light and easy to hang around the tower on the surrounding ‚cage‘. The power cables for the lights were also provided and were simple to connect together.
Once the lights were around the tower I began filling the reservoir with water and nutrients. The water reservoir has a volume of 20 gallons, which can be quite timely to fill up if all you have is a 5L water jug and a tap. Nonetheless, I much prefer the initial labour of filling up 20 gallons in order to make managing the tower’s water and nutrient much easier in the long term. Also, if you have a hose (or a hose like object) the effort would be negligible.
I suggest topping off your seedlings with clay pebbles once you transplant them.
Planting the seedlings was straight forward, although, I did make the mistake of using smaller rockwool starter plugs for the first batch of crops. These small rockwool starters were difficult to properly align and fill with clay pebbles given the fast that the plant baskets in the towers are diagonally sloped. After switching to the larger Rockwool starter cubes, which Tower Gardens also recommends, the transplanting process was much easier. I tested what would happen if we didn’t top off each basket with clay pebbles and found that algae began to grow on the rockrool cubes, so I highly suggest trying the clay pebbles in conjunction with the rockwool.
I highly suggest using an electronic EC and pH measuring pens.
Managing the initial tower without measuring EC was quite difficult. I was mixing nutrients at ratios suggested on the bottle and hoping for the best. This certainly is not the way to get a nice looking and bountiful yield… especially in Germany. The tap water here in Germany has quite a high EC, which is about 0.4 here in Düsseldorf. Given the nutrients I added I discovered the plants were operating at over 2.0 EC (lettuce requires 0.8-1.2 EC). Luckily I ordered an electronic EC measuring pen and was able to easily manage the nutrient levels properly from then on.
The Tower Gardens worked well to get us quickly started on crop growth testing.
We could have spent much longer trying to design and build a system ourselves or even going with a system that would have required drilling holes in walls or having a steel rack. Instead, we were able to quickly and easily get started on our project and spend effort on what mattered for us. The towers made crop yield testing straight forward and turned a week of labour into a single day.