Tower Garden Workshop, MORE DATES SET!

If you want to learn how to grow check out our workshops. Dates are published through September More »

Tower Garden Cheat Sheet is HERE!

You know what it’s like.  You setup your Tower Garden, you file your Growing Guide in that super safe place.  You know the one.  The one that is so safe it won’t More »

How to Grow the Perfect Seedling

You received your Tower Garden, you started some seeds and you sit back and wait.  After 1-2 weeks you go ahead and put them in your Tower Garden, the next day they More »

 

Could Kale be Poisoning You?

Who doesn’t love Kale?  Well ok, it’s not everyone’s favorite but it sure is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. steamed kale has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Regular consumption has been linked to reducing at least five types of cancer, including: bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate. It’s powerful compounds known as glucosinolates have even been found to regulate detoxification at the genetic level. And that’s not to mention its superfood status when it comes to other nutrients like vitamin K, A, calcium and a group of compounds known as flavonoids, of which kale has more than just about any other vegetable.kale-792988_1280

But, it can’t all be good, can it?In a recent blog known as “The Vegetable Detective” Todd Oppenheimer raised the concern that kale, even organic kale, while healthy in moderate amounts, could (at least in theory) be linked to thallium poisoning. He reported that Ernie Hubbard, a molecular biologist with a background in biochemistry and genetics in Marin County, California, found that a surprising number of his private practice clients reported the same symptoms: chronic fatigue, heart arrhythmias, skin and hair issues, neurological problems, foggy thinking, digestive troubles and gluten-sensitivity, to name a few. So when a company contacted him to test a detoxification product “ZNatural” it was developing to bind (or “chelate”) to toxins like heavy metals to eliminate them in the urine, he agreed.

Twenty clients agreed to try the product and Hubbard went to work testing their urine samples. High levels of the heavy metal thallium kept showing up. According to Oppenheimer, around the same time, Hubbard found a study that found cruciferous vegetables are excellent accumulators of heavy metals, including thallium. Cruciferous vegetables include: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, collard and mustard greens. While considering kale’s explosion in popularity, Hubbard reportedly made the link between kale and possible thallium toxicity.

Does that mean we should stop eating this nutrient dense superstar?  Of course not!  Grow it in a Tower Garden and you don’t have to worry about contaminated soil.

Good Bug, Bad Bug?

We’ve all done it at some point.  We’ve seen a bug on our beloved Tower Garden and freaked out!  However, not all bugs are created equal and there are many beneficial bugs out there that actually eat the bad guys.  It’s that whole circle of life thing.  I’ve mistakenly squashed a ladybug larvae before.  They look nothing like the aphid eating adult they turn into.  In fact they look kind of weird!  You can see all of the life stages of ladybug’s here so that you won’t make the same mistake I did!

Assassin Bug

Assassin Bug Photo Credit: Joseph Berger bugwood.org

How to Hand Pollinate Tomatoes, Zucchini and more!

Do your Zucchini, Tomato and other fruit bearing crops produce plenty of flowers but no little or no fruit?  The problem could be a lack of pollination.  Due to a decline in the Bee population, more gardeners are having to manually pollinate their fruiting crops to ensure a bountiful, continuous harvest! Learn how to hand pollinate!

 

What crops need to be pollinated?
Any crop that produces a fruit needs to be pollinated.  Some common crops are tomatoes, zucchini (and all varieties of squash), cucumbers, beans, peas, peppers, strawberries, melons and eggplant.

Where can I find good quality seeds?

Have you ever attempted to start your own seedlings for your Tower Garden, only to have few, if any germinate?  It can be frustrating when all you want to do is grow your own food! It all boils down to the seed.  We wrote a post a few years ago giving you some insight on why your seed failed to germinate. Starting with good quality seeds is important to ensure you have a good, strong plant.  Poor quality seeds often result in poor germination rate.  Personally, I wouldn’t waste your time or money with big box stores seeds.  They have often sat on the shop floor and have been subject to heat and humidity.

There are a number of different things to consider when purchasing seeds.  Do you want an heirloom or hybrid variety?  What about GMOs and Organic?  (See our post here as we define different seed types you’ll find whilst shopping for seeds). Many varieties are bred to be resistant to certain diseases and this can be a great help! You will also want to purchase varieties that do well in your climate.  Below we list our top sources for Non-GMO seeds.  It’s important to note that GMO seeds are generally not available for the average grower to purchase.  However if you are saving seeds from store bought produce that is not organic there is a chance the seeds are from crops that have been genetically altered.

Johnny's Selected Seeds Logo

Johnny’s Selected Seeds is my favorite.  They offer a HUGE selection of Organic and non-organic seeds and all are non-GMO. They offer free shipping on orders of $200 or more and coupon codes are occasionally available offering free shipping on smaller orders.  You can request a free catalog and learn tons of information in their Growers Center.  It even includes a Growers Library with information on growing virtually every crop! Johnny’s Seeds is a great resource for the gardener, even if you are not purchasing seeds from them.

 

You can get Free Shipping on any size order at Burpee.com with code AFFBFS55. Or you can get $10 off $50 purchase (excluding gift cards at using code AFFBTEN5  Both coupons expire on 1/11/15.  You can request a free catalog on their website.

Park seed offers Free Shipping on First Order of $40 or More With E-mail Signup. A free catalog can also be requested on their website.
American Meadows - The Best Place for a huge selection of wildflower seeds, flower bulbs, perennials, seed packets, ornamental grasses, ferns, and berries at great prices! Click Here!

American Meadows is another provider of Non-GMO seeds and they are currently offering Free Shipping on Promotional Seed Packets.

Official Tower Garden Grow Lights now available!

The cold frigid winter has never been a valid excuse not to own a Tower Garden. Tower Garden now have their own Official Tower Garden Grow Light kit available for the Tower Garden.

 

How to Clean the Pump Filter in your Tower Garden

There’s very little maintenance involved in growing a Tower Garden.  One very important step you should perform at least once a month is to clean the filter on the pump.  It takes less than two minutes and will help prolong the life of your pump and your plants!

Keep an eye out for other how to videos.  What videos would you like to see?

The Winter Chill is here! Growing your Tower Garden in the Winter

Most of the country seemed to reach the end of Summer and spend just a few brief weeks in Fall before the Polar Vortex set in.  It’s been a little cooler than normal in Florida, but that’s nothing compared to the 50+ inches of snow northern Wisconsin received in just 4 days!

There are a number of ways you can extend your growing season and continue to receive fresh, clean, local produce  from your Tower Garden ALL WINTER LONG!

winter-20248

Tower Gardens are taking off!

The Chicago Department of Aviation took going green to a higher level almost three years ago.

There are 26 “aeroponic” towers in the rotunda building between terminals 2 & 3, creating a first-of-its kind urban garden at O’Hare International Airport.

The 928-square-foot garden is a joint effort between the Aviation department and HMSHost, the company that runs many of the restaurant and concessions at the airport.

The vegetables and herbs harvested from the vertically oriented, indoor garden will be served only a few feet away from where they are grown at airport restaurants like Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Sushi & Seafood, Blackhawks and Tuscany.

“There is nothing fresher than picking it off the tower and putting it in the sandwiches and pasta and other items you will eat here,” said Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino.

Some of the first crops grown at O’Hare included habanero peppers, bibb lettuce, edible flowers, thyme, oregano and green beans. In a process similar to hydroponics, seeds are first germinated in small cubes of nutrient rich volcanic rock, then they are transferred to the eight foot-tall towers that feed them a fertilized water mixture. Some plants can mature in as little as four weeks.

“In one year we can have 13 different crops,” said Tim Blank of Future Growing LLC, the Florida-based company that designed the system.

The garden serves two functions at the airport. Not only is it providing food for the restaurants, but it is also providing a green oasis for travelers.

A glass railing surrounds the garden to discourage those travelers from doing any harvesting on their own.

O'Hare Farmers Market

O’Hare Farmers Market

Chicago O’Hare now features a Farmer’s Market – a second world’s first for O’Hare! The airport is truly representing the future of local, sustainable living. The O’Hare Farmer’s Market kiosk offers fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, and thyme, which are all grown a level above the market in the world’s first airport aeroponic garden.

What do the terms “Aeroponic” and “Hydroponic” mean?

Nasa grows Aeroponically

“Aero” means “Air”, “Hydro” means “Water” and “ponic” means work.  Simply put it means working with air or working with water.  NASA have been growing plants aeroponically since the 90s and what did they find?  They found it was one of the most efficient ways of growing, both in terms of resources used and production.  You can read the full article here.

Is Hydroponics safe?

People always want to know if growing hydroponically is as safe and healthy as growing in good organic soil. According to the experts, ummm…YES! And more so! Plants don’t differentiate between nutrients that come from soil or the earth minerals found in Tower Tonic Mineral Blend. Here is a paragraph from the University of Alabama Cooperative Extension: