The Dirt on Tower Gardens
What exactly is a Tower Garden? Good question, glad you asked. Actually, Tower Gardens have been around for a while, but have become very popular recently with those who enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.
Tower Gardens, or as they are also known, aeroponics, is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil. Believe it or not, when growing with aeroponics, you’re using the same technology that NASA uses in space. How cool is that? Tower Gardens allow the growing of plants using only nutrients and water, and get ready for this – without all that dirty dirt! Plus modern research has found that aeroponic systems can grow plants three times as fast, and can produce up to 30% more harvested food. That can only mean one thing; no more having to impatiently wait all summer long to dig into those fresh and tasty crops!
What is it?
Tower Gardens are a food production system that is designed specifically for urban farms, rooftop gardens, and residential and commercial growing operations. Because of its vertical structure, the entire system is both energy and space efficient. A Tower Garden can allow you to grow up to approximately twenty fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers – all with less than three square feet of space, either indoors or out. And with a Tower Garden, you would be using roughly 90% less water, all in a fraction of the time it would take to maintain an outdoor in-ground garden. A Tower Garden is uniquely created from hardened polyurethane, and can be used for many years at a time. The plastic is much thicker than typical hydroponic products that are found on the market today. The plastic that is used is also 100% opaque, which in turn keeps all of the sunlight out (which naturally inhibits the growth of algae), and is UV stabilized for outdoor protection as well.
Outer Banks local, Sheila Williams, an expert Tower Garden-er, displaying her bountiful harvest. Photos by Savanna Williams
Where did it come from?
The history of Tower Gardens is quite interesting. Tim Blank took the first step toward his life’s work when he took a position with Walt Disney World in Florida. Tim was an advanced intern at Epcot Center’s Living With the Land Pavilion. Living With the Land takes its visitors on a boat ride through the American Plains, the Rain Forest, and the African Desert. Through each journey, the ride explores all of the innovative and modern technologies, including vertical gardening, which allows for more efficient food growth all while still preserving the natural environment. The ride ends in a simulated futuristic world of plants growing without soil.
Eventually, Tim Blank became the Greenhouse Manager for Epcot’s agricultural display. Ultimately he left in 2005 and founded Future Growing. His dream was that everyone on our planet would have access to healthy food, within his or her own home. At Future Growing, Tim developed the state of the art vertical garden system, which we now call the Tower Gardens. In 2011, Juice Plus+ purchased all rights from Tim Blank and his company to produce and distribute Tower Gardens for home use.
Tim Blank, former Greenhouse Manager for Disney’s Epcot agricultural display, creator of the Tower Garden technology, and founder of Future Growing. Photos courtesy Future Growing.
How does it work?
The seeds that are used in a Tower Garden are started in natural rock fiber planting cubes. After germination occurs, the cubes are then placed into full light for about a week, where they can develop into more mature seeds that are ready to be transplanted into the actual Tower home. Imagine owning a garden that is completely void of wildlife diseases, lingering animal pests, plant eating insects, and weeds! Conventional plant gardening can be complicated and very time consuming, but with Tower Gardens, there is now a different way. The Tower automatically will deliver all of the water and nutrients that your plants need, with minimal effort from you!
In most aeroponic systems, you are required to hand mist or spray plants. The Tower Garden relies on a small pump that cycles through dripping, irrigating, and repeating. It is set on a timer, and drips a solution made up mostly of minerals over the plants and their roots. There is usually a twenty-five gallon reservoir that houses the pump filled with mineral solution. That solution is pumped to a space at the very top of the Tower Garden, and then falls into a perforated basket, which then drips through the spaces and perforations that run all throughout the garden. Once the solution is humidified and absorbed by the roots, it returns to the reservoir.
Tower Gardens on the Outer Banks
Believe it or not, we have our very own Tower Garden specialist right here on the Outer Banks! Sheila Williams of Kitty Hawk owns her very own in-home healthy gardening system. Sheila shared with us some very helpful tips and even shared some personal photos of her own journey with Tower Garden growing. When speaking with Sheila, she explained how the Towers are, “A state of the art growing technology system. It is a cleaner, simpler, and more efficient way to grow fresh and healthy food for your family.” She also says, “You never have to worry about ground pests or contaminated soil because the aeroponic system uses only water and liquid nutrients, so therefore, no pesticides needed or weeds to pull.” Sheila also points out something very interesting: “By growing at home, you will be 100% confident in the quality of your food, while saving on the cost of store bought produce.” Sheila currently owns four tower gardens, and has grown them for the past six years.
Tower Gardening just might be something for you to check out. No matter your lifestyle, you can essentially grow food anywhere, at anytime. Being healthy doesn’t have to be hard, or costly, especially when it has been made so much easier for anyone interested!♦
If you would like more information on purchasing and starting your own Tower Garden, Sheila would love to help. Her website is shielawilliams.towergarden.com. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org