The Ultimate Space-Saving Garden

| October 1, 2013 | 0 Comments


The Tower Garden with an extension kit can grow up to 28 plants in one tower.

The Tower Garden with an extension kit can grow up to 28 plants in one tower.

Mission Hills Garden Club learned about a clever invention — a Tower Garden. Deris and Sky Jeanette brought and demonstrated it, a modular hydroponics solution for growing healthy, huge delicious plants.

The device consists of a sturdy pale green plastic vat which fits in a space less than three feet by three feet and holds 20 gallons of water fortified with special nutrients. A little pump inside sends this water up a pipe and then distributes it continuously and equally to each plant. This way each plant has a constant supply of nutrients, water, and oxygen. There is no dirt. The tower comes with all its parts as well as special food which you add to the water about every two weeks. Filling the tower and maintaining the proper nutrients and PH content only requires about fifteen minutes a week. The tower uses about $7.00 or $8.00 for a year of electricity. In addition, you can turn the tower to maximize sun exposure that you deem best for your plants.

Deris broke off a celery stalk from the outside of one of his plants. Not only was it the tastiest celery I’ve ever eaten, it also had no strings. The lettuces were absolutely enormous. The Jeanettes plant heavier plants, such as tomatoes, at the lower portion of the tower for better support.

Deris also explained that the type of heirloom tomatoes he plants thrive, look pretty for a longer time, and produce more tomatoes by not letting them grow too tall. Once the plant is about 18 inches tall, he pinches off the early blossoms from the top of the plant.

The Tower Garden with an extension kit can grow up to 28 plants in one tower. It uses about ten per cent of the area you would need to grow a comparable number of plants in the traditional manner. Because no soil is involved, many pests and diseases never touch the plants. The water is from your tap or from collected rain water. The plants never receive insecticides from a neighbor’s run-off.

These towers can be placed anywhere they will receive adequate light. Most vegetables prefer at least eight hours a day of full direct sunlight. Green, leafy vegetables need two to four hours of direct sunlight. Blossoming plants and fruits require a minimum of five to seven hours of direct sunlight. Deris says, “Some people could assume that strong shade light would be OK, but it’s not, because the plant would not do well.”

The system does require an electrical source for the pump and source of water. A hose is the easiest way to supply water. Each tower comes with a planting kit consisting of a tray of 20 rock wool starter cubes in which your plant will begin its life, a packet of seeds (You supply the other seeds or seedlings), little net pots, a tray with a clear lid in which you can start the seeds, the special blend of liquid plant food concentrate, a PH test kit and a bottle each of PH supplement and PH neutralizer, a measuring cup, the pump, timer and drain tube. You may buy extensions allowing you to grow an additional eight plants. The extended tower is six feet tall; any taller; at harvest time, most people would need a ladder.

Chicago’s O’Hare airport has an area devoted to enough Tower Gardens to supply farmer’s markets and numerous restaurants. In Philadelphia one Whole Foods market not only receives produce from farmers’ Tower Gardens, but actually has some producing in the store itself.

Many schools have these gardens making consuming the harvest a reward for the students. The towers also allow children and people in wheel chairs to harvest their crops. In addition, the Tower Garden can be made part of a landscape. They can even be placed on roof tops as several New York City restaurants have done. For more information, go to

On October 23 Sandra Richardson will give us information about the Lakeside River Park Foundation which has restored 100 acres. The meeting will be at the church at 4070 Jackdaw from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. If you have not renewed your membership, now is the time to do so. $35.00 gives you several illuminating speakers at the monthly meetings, parties, friendship, and a chance to give back to your community. Guests still pay $10 per meeting, so if you pay $10.00 as a guest and you join that night, an additional $25.00 gives you a year’s membership.

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About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.