Monday, March 24, 2014

Tower Gardens - Our Newest Garden Addition

Living Towers, Eustis Fl.
I've had several posts about preps for our garden here in Florida, and the challenges I've found trying to figure out how to grow in the sugar sand that is this State's dirt, as well as to deal with the HUGE amounts of rain that will fall in such short periods of time!!  SOOOOOO, very different from my past garden and landscape projects I've had for so many years in California.
I set about to tackle this by trying to educate myself on how others manage this in our region.  Florida itself falls into several different climate zones, our's is in Central Florida and it's listed 9b.  In addition to the climate, there are so many more factors, the invading grasses and pests, including larger animals to deal with in my garden.  So Kevin and Cameron further moved to create the hydroponic systems we'd looked into and had begun in our greenhouse in California.  Here though they moved it up a notch from the half barrels we'd used there to this beauty that is now beginning to produce the first of our plants.  We've been working to get the flow of nutrient rich water right to ALL the plants, and have been seeing success.

Our current hydroponic system Kevin and Cameron have been working on, and initial pictures from the barrel system we had in our greenhouse back in California.  It was one we'd hoped would eventually lead to an aquaponic system using first gold fish, then later Tilapia.  Still planning to eventually have this, but will probably not use the barrels again.

Living Towers commercial lettuce production.
A week ago Kevin and I toured a greenhouse garden known as Living Towers where they feature their commercial systems of aeroponically grown vegetables and some of the Tower Gardens that we decided to purchase after our tour.  We had initially gone to the display to see their greenhouse setup and to buy starter plants.  We were so impressed with the design and performance of these garden towers that wet the root systems of the plants then to allow a timed shut down and airing out  of the roots, that helps to not drown the plants as has been the challenge in our hydroponic gardening.  This makes for large, healthy plants that grow remarkably fast.  The designer of these systems Tom Blank worked for Disney's The Land at Epcot and became expert at growing aeroponically for them and their collaboration with NASA.  Not wanting to get into home sales Disney gave him the go ahead to bring this technology to everyday home owners for their use.
The Land at Epcot - our "Behind the Seeds" tour we took in October of 2013
He worked to simplify the garden towers by giving his early prototypes to his grandmother for testing.  He figured if she could put it together herself and get it running without incidents then he had a model that would work for the general public.  With that the Tower Gardens were born.  We decided to order their set of 3 and these arrived Wednesday.  They were as easy as they said to put them together and with the starter plants that we got at the Living Towers center , we dropped those in and our gardening in these was started.

This is the system as it's designed to operate.
Our Tower Gardens arrived in 6 boxes - to level the area they would sit Kevin and Cameron made these wood bases with the extra center brace to set them on, because our yard slants they used a system of shims to level the bases.

Cameron looking over 1st assembled tower garden

1st tower with plants and our hydroponic system behind it
Bases for the next two towers in place

Leveling the last tower garden

Here they are - all 3 towers with plants in them.  The tomato cage is around the closest in this picture.

Kevin has started a new blog found here: Project 128 and I will be putting a permanent link on the side of this blog, so that they can display the progress of this garden system, as well as the others that we have been working on and will be adding in the future.  Our desire still remains to really make this property produce well for ourselves and to have plenty to share.  This will include eventually having our Tilapia in our own aquaponic system.  So excited to see the progress!!

I'll post more as we continue to watch our "modern" garden grow.  Meanwhile check out Kevin's new blog
Project 128.


  1. sorry I have not visited for a while but I kind of went mia. Well lots have been happening in your end. I wish had even a small garden to enjoy this type of plant growing.

  2. Hello Paps, Life gets busy - I haven't had the chance to do too much blog hopping myself!
    We're hoping these systems will jump start our gardening. Still plan to do a lot in the yard that doesn't grow in the tower systems, but this will make for a good source of regular fresh salads that we love. Will have to pop over and see what you and your beautiful family have been up to. Wishing you all the best, Lynda