Tower Gardens: The Best Solution For Small Spaces Guaranteed!
If you were ready to give up on gardening because you lack the space, you better think twice, because we may have found the key to solving this problem.
Tower garden products have risen in popularity over the past few years, and all because they’ve made it possible for people to grow their own crops in the comfort of their homes – yes, even in tiny homes…Interested in learning about this unusual gardening approach?
How does a tower garden work? Is it really what I’m looking for, or should I opt for a traditional garden? Is there more than one type of tower garden?
What is a tower garden?
A tower garden is similar to the vertical garden, in which – unlike most traditional gardening practices – one uses an erect frame to grow plants in.
Imagine an area that‘s covered with diverse plants that flourish, rise, and coil skyward rather than outward… that is tower gardening.
The clever use of space has been used since ancient times, with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon being one of the most impressive examples.
Other than taking up less space, tower gardens are known to require little time and effort, and to deliver high yields.
These are just a few reasons why this method of food production has not only been highlighted as a feasible option in future industrial farming, but also as a viable alternative in future urban gardening.
In the commercial world, the term Tower Garden® has been patented by a company called Juice Plus+®. It is currently a plastic tower structure that employs a hydroponic – and more specifically, aeroponic – system by using nutrient solution and water instead of soil and water. Thus, with Tower Garden® you can grow around 20 plants in very limited spaces either outdoors or indoors.
This ready-made product can often be purchased as a kit that includes all the materials needed to get started – such as a germination tray, seed starter kit, and plant food.
Learn more about how it works by watching Tower Garden®’s 1 minute video, Vertical Aeroponic Technology: See How Tower Garden® Works. For more education, click here to learn more about the difference between hydroponics and aquaponics.
How much does a Tower Garden® cost?
When paid up front, the Tower Garden Growing System® is currently priced at $525.00, plus a shipping charge of $50.00. For those who prefer paying in 12 monthly installments, the product is priced at $45.25, totaling $543.00.
In this case, the shipping charge is added onto the first payment. Currently, it is only available in Canada and the United States.The product includes all the basic things needed to begin growing food, and comes with a limited warranty of 5 years. Extra Tower Garden® supplies such as support cages, dollies, LED indoor Tower Garden® grow lights, and growing clips need to be bought separately.Before purchasing this product, make sure to check out Tower Garden® reviews in Amazon, or watch Tom Durzynski’s video, Unbiased Review of Tower Garden System.
What are some alternatives to Tower Garden®?
If you aren’t sure about this product… don’t sweat it! There are plenty of alternatives to the Tower Garden®:
ZipGrow Tower – Consisting of a growing tower, pump, and a drip irrigation system, this hydroponic product works similarly to the Tower Garden® by recirculating the nutrient-solution and water to irrigate plants. Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
Florafelt Compact Vertical Garden Kit – Consists of 8 recycled plastic nylon pockets and features a hybrid-hydroponic growing system that will automatically water the plants on a daily basis.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
Rainwater Terrace Water Butt – Made up of 3 plastic water containers and a base, along with a tube system. This hybrid-hydroponic product works by diverting rainwater from your downpipe into the top container to then flow down through the other containers, watering all plants on the way.
Sun State Organics Growpol – Consists of a stainless steel and aluminum construction that is able to hold up to 20 air pruning bags. This product features a hybrid-hydroponic growing system in which water is fed to the plants automatically via a hose and a series of emitters.
Triolife Plant Pyramid – Made up of a 3-level wooden vertical planter to grow plants in a more conventional way.
Other companies that offer similar garden systems are Aerogarden, Garden Tower, Urbio, WallyGro, and Window Farms.
If you’re still not convinced about any of these products, check out the section, “How to Build a Tower Garden” to find our favorite DIY towers.
A Thorny Battle: Tower Garden® vs. The Traditional Garden
So, what should you go for? A Tower Garden® or a traditional garden?
Both have advantages and disadvantages that you should take into account when making your decision… and we’re about to walk you through them.
Contender # 1. Tower Garden®
Let’s get started with the pros of the Tower Garden®:
- Gardening made possible in reduced spaces – Because of its vertical construction, tower gardens make it possible to grow plants without the need for a garden or patio.Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
- To use outdoors and indoors – If you don’t have an outdoor space at all, they can simply be placed indoors next to some growing lights.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Yearlong yields – Growing indoors makes it feasible for people to plant, grow and harvest their crops year-round, independent from weather conditions.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Hasty harvests – Because plants are fed the necessary nutrients directly to their roots, and receive a constant water supply in a controlled environment, they can grow 25% to 30% faster than if grown traditionally.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Small water footprint – Water is constantly being recycled in most hydroponic systems. Plus, since there isn’t soil there to absorb it, less water is used overall.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Decrease in pests and plant disease – As the majority of plant pests are harbored in soil, hydroponic systems aid in diminishing them. In addition, maintaining a correct pH and suitable levels of nutrients allow plants to fight diseases more effortlessly.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Price-quality mismatch – After all, it is just a plastic product that’s made in China. In other words, it is a system that is entirely composed of one of the cheapest materials available and is priced over $500.00 per unit. The reality is that DIY versions perform just as well and can be built for $100.00 (and even less).May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
- Multi-level marketing merchandise – Why are you being asked to pay such a high price for a plastic product? That’s because Tower Garden® is a multi-level marketing product, which means that a lot of the money you are exchanging for it is not paying for the product, but rather for the countless sales people that stand at different levels of their distributors’ line.May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.
- Sketchy company claims – Although Juice Plus+ claims that its tower is made of high-quality (food-grade and UV stabilized) plastic, there is no proof of this – such as a seal or marking – to be found on the product.Does not include a tray to collect chicken droppings.
- Plastic-grown (healthy) food? – Plastic is one of the most dubious materials on Earth. More and more light continues to be shed on the toxicity of plastics and their relevant consequences – such as cancer. Are we to believe that healthy food will grow from a plastic tube?Does not include a tray to collect chicken droppings.
- Tower Tonic Mineral Solution is NOT organic – The nutrient solution you feed your Tower Garden® plants with is a synthetic fertilizer… pretty much equivalent to those used by industrial farmers who produce the chemically-fed foods that are sold in the supermarket. This synthetic fertilizer ultimately takes its toll on the actual tower itself, as excess salts soon begin to accumulate in parts of the tower structure, which in turn cause the plastic to slowly deteriorate. Jump to minute 3:40 of this YouTube video to see more.Does not include a tray to collect chicken droppings.
Contender # 2. Traditional garden
Here are the pros of a traditional garden:
- Pots make gardening possible in reduced spaces – Good old pots come in many sizes and shapes, making it viable for people to grow plants in any kind of space.Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
- Cultivate outdoors and indoors – Both outdoor and indoor options are available for gardeners who choose to grow plants the traditional way. For indoors, just set up a few reliable grow lights, and your gardening operation will be up and running! Note, that this indoor option is always species-dependent, as some will thrive better than others under artificial light.Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
- Persistent produce – Again, if you grow indoors you will be able to generate yearlong produce, especially herbs and leafy greens.Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
- Money-saving oasis – It is proven that effective landscaping, which simply means growing vegetation in harmony with your living space – can shrink cooling and heating bills by as much as 40%. Besides, a nice garden can also increase the value of a property.Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
- Support local wildlife and the environment – A garden full of local plants can be seen as a little sanctuary by local animals searching for food and water in ever-expanding humanized environments. Plants also help cut soil erosion, and keep sediments away from bodies of water.Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
- Healing by interacting with nature – It’s proven that being in contact with nature relieves mental and emotional imbalances like stress, anger, and fear. Spending time in green spaces also helps us physically by reducing our blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.Features an easy-access egg collection door.
Finally, let’s take a look at the cons of the traditional garden:
- Unhurried harvests – Growing crops the traditional way will take roughly 3 times longer than with a Tower Garden®.May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
- Time for tending to the greens – Those thriving weeds will need to be managed from time to time, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for diseases and pests. Though, the latter can be controlled by planting several plant species in the area – a practice that goes by the name of intercropping.May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.
- Higher water use – Unlike a hydroponic system where liquids are recycled to continuously water plants, water will just be used once in a garden. It therefore utilizes around 90% more water than a Tower Garden®.Does not include a tray to collect chicken droppings.
Hydroponic Garden Tower® vs. Aeroponic Systems
In essence, hydroponics simply refers to growing crops without soil. Plants are instead fed a nutrient solution – which is practically fertilizer – solvent in water to make them grow. This is the foundation of Garden Tower® and comparable products.
Aeroponics is simply a type of hydroponics. Under this system, plants are suspended and regularly sprayed with a nutrient water solution. This occurs via sprayers that are connected to the reservoir by means of a tube system. Go ahead and watch this video on the functionings of an aeroponics system to further understand how it works.
Because plant roots are hanging in a humid area, they receive better oxygenation and regular moisture. The other hydroponic systems either use a growing medium – like coconut fiber, rockwool, or perlite – or keep the plant roots immersed in water. This is therefore the leading advantage of aeroponics.
The remaining 5 different kinds of hydroponic systems, which you’ll find applied to different products, each work in a different manner:
1 – Deep water Culture
Plant roots are continuously submerged in the nutrient solution, while air pumps that are found in the reservoir – in addition to air stones – are in charge of keeping the solution oxygenated.
2 – Drip
A timer-controlled pump will send the nutrient solution from the reservoir to a series of drip lines, which will lead the solution directly to the plant roots or grow medium.
3 – Ebb and Flow or Flood and Drain
A timer-controlled pump will push the nutrient solution from the reservoir through a tube to the grow tray, until it floods. Once the pump turns off, the water will drain out through a second tube back into the reservoir.
4 – Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
A timer-controlled pump will push the nutrient solution from the reservoir through a tube to a slightly sloped channel where plant roots will be making contact with the flowing water. Once the water has passed through the channel, it will fall back down into the reservoir through an opening.
5 – Wick
Two or more wicks carry the nutrient solution from the reservoir up to the plant’s roots, causing the roots of the plants to always remain in contact with water. This is considered the simplest of hydroponic systems.
Note: Thinking about harvesting rainwater to use in your hydroponic garden tower? Check out our review post on The Five Best Rain Barrels for Smaller Homes.
What Can You Grow in a Tower Garden®?
By now you’re probably wondering what grows well in a Tower Garden®?
Lucky for you, a huge variety of plants, herbs, vegetables and fruits can be grown in these structures.
A few notable exceptions include bushes, grapevines, root crops, and trees.
Tower Garden Herbs
Herbs are amongst the easiest to grow, since most need very little care and can thrive in both outdoor and indoor spaces (without the need for indoor lighting). Here are some of the easiest herbs to grow in tower and vertical gardens:
- Lemon balm
Tower Garden Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Though they may need more sunlight and care than herbs, vegetables and leafy greens are a must have when it comes to a garden tower. Some of the most straightforward vegetables and leafy greens to plant in garden towers include:
Tower Garden Fruits
Similar to some vegetables and leafy greens, a lot of fruits require more work, full sun, pollinators and space. However, getting your hands on that luscious juicy produce is definitely worth the extra effort. Here are a few fruits that can be easily incorporated to a garden tower:
For further ideas and information on what plants to grow in a tower garden, take a look at the Tower Garden® planting guide.
Tower Garden Seedlings
When first planting in a Tower Garden®, you’ll see that the easiest way to begin is by starting your seeds in rockwool starter cubes, and then transplanting them to your tower once they are 3 inches tall.
Watch this 3 minute video on planting instructions to walk you through the process. All you’ll need is the seeds, vermiculite, starter cubes, water and a container.
How to Build a Tower Garden: Our Top 10 Tower Garden DIY Plans
Do you really want to get your hands on a tower garden, but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for the Tower Garden® or its counterparts? It’s alright, because we have a collection of great DIY tower garden ideas and plans just for you!
1. Terra Cotta Pot Tower
This creative and eye-catching DIY vertical planter is a simple 1 day project. You’ll need 5 terra cotta pots of various sizes, a terra cotta base, and a wooden stake or rod. All these materials should cost no more than $50.00.
Visit the Grace & Good Eats site for instructions on how to make this vertical planter.
2. Composting Tower Garden
The compostable tower garden is a relatively complex project that will take up 1 to 2 full days to complete. To build this system you’ll need a 55 gallon drum, 4 inch PVC pipe, a cap that fits the PVC pipe, 2 x 4 inch dimensional lumber, and a few screws. As for tools, you’ll need a measuring tape, jigsaw, heat gun, drill, wire screen mesh, and exterior silicone caulk.
For instructions on how to build this tower garden, be sure to watch Our Half Acre Homestead’s video.
Note: Have you been thinking about composting? Don’t forget to check out our step-by-step guide on How to Compost in an Apartment.
3. Pyramid Tower Garden
Despite having a more elaborate build, this charming and functional pyramid tower garden is surely pay-off for the extra time, effort, and money that go into it. To construct this tower you’ll need cedar lumber of 3 different sizes, plywood, wheels, deck screws, and container wood glue. All in all the price of this pyramid tower garden will be around $200.00.
Visit the Remove and Replace site for instructions.
4. PVC Piping Strawberry Tower
This is a 1 day project for which you’ll only need a PVC tube, bucket, drill, hole saw, and sandpaper. If buying materials only, the price of this tower will range from $40.00 to $50.00.
For information on how to build this strawberry tower, watch Home Handy Hint’s explanatory video.
5. Pallet Vertical Garden
Another easy as pie and low-cost vertical garden project! You just need some wooden pallets, 2 wooden beams, screws, 4 containers, a screwdriver, and drill. The price for this vertical garden can run as low as $20.00 if using recycled pallets.
If you find it easier to sit back, watch and relax, check out Mitre 10 New Zealands great pallet planter video below:
6. Vertical Garden Tower
The vertical garden tower is a 1 or 2 day project that will result in a very rustic and attractive planter. What you’ll need is 4 fence boards, an old drawer, 4×4 post pieces, wood screws, a drill, and a 2” drill bit.
Take a look at the process of building this planter on Zest It Up’s site.
7. Hydroponic Indoor Tower Garden
This is the most complicated system on our DIY list. You’ll need over 20 different materials and tools to build this tower garden and at least 3 days.
The process of setting up this hydroponic system is explained by Ponics Haven in a series of 3 videos.
8. DIY Aeroponic Tower Garden
Priced around $100.00, you’ll need a plastic storage box, PVC tubing, pump, timer, some net cups, and sprayers.
Technology Garden explains how theirs is set up in a 1 minute video.
9. Bottle Tower Garden
Bottle tower gardening is quite straightforward and will cost you $0.00. You’ll need at least 6 plastic bottles, an art knife or blade, and a drill. In a matter of hours you should have this tower built and ready to use!
For a step-by-step guide on how to build this clever bottle tower garden system and other bottle tower gardening projects, visit Container Gardening’s site.
10. Miniponics Vertical Aquaponics Garden
Small-scale and adorable, the miniponics is a no sweat introduction to aquaponics – the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics. A plastic bottle, bamboo, and rope is everything that’s needed to build this system that should cost no more than $10.00.
Read more about it on the Mediamatic site.
Answers to the Top 5 Tower Garden® FAQs
Can you grow beets in a Tower Garden®?
No, the Tower Garden® cannot support beets, or any other root plant for that matter. So, unfortunately you won’t be able to grow potatoes, carrots, turnips, and so on.
Is Tower Garden® organic?
As the very definition of organic growing implies the use of soil, Tower Garden® cannot be considered organic. Tower Garden’s® nutrient solution Tower Tonic is a synthetic chemical fertilizer.
Can I use something other than Tower Tonic as a nutrient solution for my Tower Garden®?
Even though Juice Plus+ does not recommend anything other than Tower Tonic for its product (for obvious reasons), there are people who choose differents brand. Some even make a homemade organic liquid nutrient solution.
How fast do plants grow in a Tower Garden®?
Some plants can be ready for harvest after merely a few weeks in the Tower Garden®. They can grow 3 times faster than they would with traditional gardening methods, and produce 30% greater yields.
Why aren’t my seeds germinating in the Tower Garden®?
Light, temperature, and expired seeds can all be reasons why your seeds aren’t germinating.
Read more about the 12 most common Tower Garden® problems and how to avoid them.
Verdict – All Roads Lead to Growth
As with everything, Tower Gardens® come with both advantages and disadvantages.
Amongst their most outstanding benefits we find their suitability for limited spaces and their ability to save water. Before taking the leap, however, we recommend comparing this method against traditional gardening, and to review the many tower garden products available prior to selecting one.After all, we should opt for the gardening method that we enjoy the most and feel most comfortable with. With that said… cheers to growing healthy food!Let us know in the comment section below if you found this article useful, and remember to share it with all your plant enthusiast pals!