Dabbling in gardening (sort of)…

I can’t say that I have a green thumb. I have killed most plants that I have tried to own. Not because I didn’t care for them, but because I didn’t care ENOUGH for them. And by caring enough, I mean watering them according to each individual type of plant and paying attention to the amount of sunlight each needs, and figuring out a watering system for when I was out of town. And also doing things like aerating the soil and giving the plants nutrients or replanting them when they grew too large for their current pot. Again, it just never really mattered enough to me to do it right.

I would love to be good at gardening but I just don’t really know where to start. If I were living back in Iowa this would be easy! My mother-in-law is an extraordinary gardener. She has at least 2 large gardens every summer. She picks all of the produce and cans as much as she can. She also ends up giving a lot away because she harvests so much. Amazing! Man…that really came in handy during COVID. Her and my father-in-law would have had enough food for years to keep them going if food were to continue to be scarce at the grocery store. But I do not live in Iowa and therefore do not have a gardening mentor. I actually live pretty far away from that blessed beautiful soil in the desert of the Southwest. How the hell do people grow anything out here?! Well…they grow things in Tower Gardens I guess. Or actual gardens…but I haven’t figured out that would actually work here. I think I would need a full green house to really grow much in the desert climate. A Tower Garden is about what I can handle at this point in life.

I first heard about Tower Gardens from a friend of mine. She had one and loved it so much that she actually started selling them. She kept her tower indoors and had fresh lettuce all the time. After listening to her talk about her own garden, I decided this is something I could do! It is basically gardening for the non-gardener. I am from Iowa after all…it should be in my blood to farm things:) So I decided to go for it…I bought a Tower Garden. I am sure there are other brands with similar features, but the Tower Garden is the only one I have experience with and therefore the only one I will discuss here.

So what is a Tower Garden exactly? Well, it is a tower with 28 holes in it in which you place a seed or seedling to grow. The original tower comes with 20 spots, I chose the add-on package with 8 additional spots. It has a container to hold water underneath (it holds about 20 gallons). You add a mixture of minerals to the water for nutrients for the plants. You need some sort of electrical supply nearby because you need to plug in the water pump. The pump pushes the water up through the tower to water the plants’ roots at the set schedule. The timer for the power supply is included in the Tower. In normal weather it should be set to water for 15 minutes and then turn off for 30 minutes. It cycles through that water through all day and all night. Every few days you should check the water reservoir to make sure it has enough water. Like I said, I live in the desert of the Southwest, and I only need to fill my water trough about once every 5 days or so. It is very low maintenance and it keeps your plants watered even if you are out of town.

I purchased the garden online (with some help from my friend) and within a few day all of the things arrived at my house…the whole “garden apparatus.” I also bought the plant minerals that you add to the water to nourish them and the acid/base corrective solutions. Now what? How do I start the actual growing of the things? Well, I had the option to buy seeds online and start them all myself, buuuut that sounded hard:) If you do not live near a store you may want to choose this option. I could also buy seedlings (plants that had all ready been started and therefore ready to just pop in your Tower) online. I browsed all of the options, but there were just too many to choose from. Plus, I really had no idea what I was doing so I needed help and to ask questions. So that left me with my last (and frankly best) option…to go the Tower Garden store to pick out my seedlings. I am lucky enough to live fairly close to one. My friend met me at the store and off we went!

The first thing that struck me was that there are a cornucopia of varieties to choose from. Who knew there were so many kinds of tomatoes?! Or basil for that matter?! And the lettuce? Wow! There is bibb, muir, kale, spinach, butter, romaine, little gem, oak leaf, frisée, and lolla to name a few. It is helpful to be able to see them, smell them and touch them to get an idea of what kind you may want to grow. You also want to pick out a few flowers. They are pretty yes, but they serve a bigger purpose. They attract beneficial insects to help pollinate your produce. This part is very important. And that is why only some things will grow in an indoor garden…you need bugs for pollination. It’s hard to know where to start, but with a few tips from my friends and the staff there I picked out my 28 seedlings. My first year I just bought a little bit of everything (lettuce, herbs, strawberries, cucumbers, watermelon) just to see what would stick! I have since learned what works well and what my family uses the most out of the garden. In a future post I will talk about what has worked and what has not worked well in the Tower Garden from my experience.

So now you have picked out your seedlings. What do you do next? Simple! You take them home and place each seedling in an open pod in the Tower Garden. I’ve learned that I like putting my herbs on the top, my lettuce and flowers in the middle, and heavier produce (anything that will require some trellissing when it starts growing) on the bottom. The garden kind of takes over from there! Which is perfect for me actually, I am a very low maintenance type of gal:) I will talk more about this process and how to care properly for your garden now that it is up and running in future posts.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

Do any of you out there have experience with the Tower Garden? Are there any certain plants that you have found work well? Please comment and let me know!

Written sincerely on this day,

The Dabbler

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