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Tomato plant growing from a tower on a deck growing in only four square feet.

Think vertical!

You can grow a lot of plants if you grow them up and, in a container, instead of spreading them out in a traditional garden plot. For example, last year from May to the end of October, I grew over $800 worth of okra in 8 five-gallon buckets.  One key is to grow vegetables that your family loves to eat.  Another key is to grow vegetables that are easy to preserve.  For example, Okra is very easy to freeze:  wash, chop and put in freezer bags.  Yet another tip is to choose vegetables that you like that are expensive to buy in the store.  For example, the yellow buttery Yukon potatoes are more expensive (and tasty) than the Idaho potatoes.

You don't need an expensive tower.  You can build your own grow towers our of straw, chicken wire and soil.  Potatoes are a crop that grows well and prolifically vertically. I already have a post showing how to grow lots of potatoes in a pot on this blog in my January posts.  These instructions you can also find down at the Garland Community Garden.  You can take a snap shot of them with your phone if you like.

 

Speaking of Vertical . . .

Loving Garland Green was recently gifted a plant tower by Jane and Bob Stroud.  I'm very excited about  putting it to use.

Garden Tower 2™, 50-Plant Composting Vertical Garden PlanterThe “World's Most Advanced Vertical Garden Planter”

The composting 50 plant accessible vertical Garden Tower® for organic balcony and vertical gardening by Garden Tower® Project. 

100% UV stable food-grade high-purity HDPE plastic, and backed by a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
Recently named the “Worlds Most Advanced Vertical Garden Planter”, the Garden Tower® 2 features food-grade USA-made HDPE (non-toxic, BPA & PVC free plastic) components, FDA-approved dye, and UV-protection antioxidant package for health, durability, and recyclability.  

Here is the description of the tower:

  • The rotating Garden Tower® 2 is a composter that grows 50 plants in 4 square feet nearly anywhere.
  • Turns waste kitchen scraps into organic fertilizer to grow organic produce.
  • The Garden Tower® vertical garden planter and composting system replicates a natural ecosystem allowing plants to access nutrients recycled through organic composting processes.
  • Easily grow nearly any vegetables, herbs or flowers organically.
  • An organic and resilient 6 cubic foot vertical soil-based alternative to expensive and difficult hydroponic systems.
  • Proudly 100% Made in the USA using 100% UV stable food-grade high-purity HDPE plastic, and backed by a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
  • 43? tall & 24.5? wide. 36 lbs. (~220 lbs. with moist soil)

Yes, I am just the kind of rude person who looks a gift horse in the mouth.  I asked my friends why they are getting rid of the tower.  They had it for several years.  It is basically the result to two bad years back to back.  Two years ago fire ants got in it.  Then last year it was too hot and too much bother to water every day.  [I plan to 1. put a bed of diatomaceous earth beneath it and to coat the bottom and sides of it at as well as its feet to discourage fire ants.  As for watering, I'll put a little bit of moss in the bottom of each cup.]

 

Think Intensive Planting!

Plants do need space, but not nearly as much as some may believe.  For example, if you plant a tomato plant in the center of an 18-inch square and stake it well, it can be surrounded on the perimeter by other compatible plants.  One big garden rule:  Do not plant peppers near tomatoes.  Square foot gardening is one method of urban gardening that takes advantage of the intensive planting format.  Four by four foot raised beds are divided into 16 one-inch squares.  The Keyhole Garden which also takes up a lot less space than the traditional row garden also takes advantage of intensive planting.

 

Related Hi-Tech Space-Saving Gardening Methods

Every year it seems there is some new contraption or method on the market that guarantees miracles.

 

 

AEROPONICS AQUAPONICS AND HYDROPONICS

Aeroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Instead, roots are suspended in the air and irrigated with a nutrient-dense mist. This differs from hydroponics, where plant roots are submerged in a solution of water and nutrients. Aquaponics is a food production system that couples aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, snails or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics.  The aquatic animals waste provides the fertilizer for the plants.

I   tried aquaponics and failed.  Basically, for me, it was too much work:  You must feed the fish monitor the temperature of their water, check the pipes to make sure they are not clogged, and there are the plants to watch over. . .   I don’t like the taste of plants grown in water and chemicals.  To me they are watery and taste like chemicals.

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