How to Plan Your Perfect Tower Garden
We’re on the cusp of a new growing season, which means I’m spending a little too much time planning my Tower Garden and researching new plants to grow. I think I’ve probably spent a total of 5 hours reading about cucamelons alone (OK, maybe just 4 hours).
But hey, a great garden starts with a great plan.
In case you’re like me and already have gardening prep fever, here are 3 important steps of Tower Garden planning. Have your own tips to add to the list? Please share them in a comment below.
When choosing a location for your Tower Garden, consider light and access to water and electricity.
1. Find the Ideal Location
With little more than a 2 sq. ft. footprint, Tower Garden fits almost anywhere. In addition to space, be sure to consider these factors when choosing a location for yours:
If you want a productive garden (and who doesn’t?), most plants need 6–8 hours of full sun or 14–16 hours under grow lights. Check seed packet labels for plant-specific light requirements. If you grow outside in a location with intense summer heat (looking at you, Arizona), keep in mind your plants may appreciate a little afternoon shade.
Tower Tip: If only one side of your Tower Garden receives light, rotate it a quarter turn daily to achieve balanced growth. This is easiest to do with the Tower Garden Dolly.
Since Tower Garden uses a water + nutrients solution instead of soil to grow plants, a nearby source for clean water is critical. It’s best to not use softened, heavily chlorinated or very hard water. Not sure if you have hard water? Take a look at this water hardness map (you can also request a free water test strip via that same link).
Tower Tip: To remove chlorine, fill a bucket with water and leave it out in full sun for 48 hours. Alternatively, add the water to your Tower Garden and run it for 48 hours before adding plants.
You’ll need electricity to run the pump (and lights if you’re growing indoors). If you’re growing outside, ensure safety with a waterproof connection protector.
Wherever you put your Tower Garden, make sure it’s level, as this is essential for proper operation.
Grow plants that match your growing conditions and preferences.
2. Pick Plants
The next step of planning your Tower Garden may be the most fun: choosing plants! As you do this, think about the following.
Your food preferences
What produce will you actually use? To answer this, consider what you use currently or what you typically bring home from the supermarket. For example, I use greens—such as chard, kale and arugula—almost daily for salads, stir-fries and other dishes. So my Tower Garden is mostly full of various greens. Identify what you use on a regular basis, and add these to your list of plants to grow.
Conversely, produce that you only buy occasionally (or that goes bad before you’re able to use it) will likely just take up space in your Tower Garden. Unless you’re seeking to change your eating habits, think twice before growing such plants.
Produce price and availability
Tired of emptying out your pocketbook for fresh basil? Can’t find your favorite variety of tomato? Whether you want lower costs or more options, there’s a solution: grow your own! You’ll likely find yourself with more free basil than you can use and impress your friends with those otherworldly striped tomatoes.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what you want to grow, let’s refine the list by looking at growing conditions. While some plants—such as chard and mint—tolerate a range of temperatures, most prefer either cool or warm weather. So what you should grow depends on location and season.
Since spring is just around the corner, greens and herbs are good choices for most gardeners starting now. If you’re lucky enough to have mild winters (e.g., California, Florida), the list of what you can grow this time of year is a little longer.
These plants grow well in the cooler temperatures of spring.
This list isn’t exhaustive, of course. Want to learn what else you can grow? For the lazy gardener (guilty), there are several planting schedulers out there. My favorite is The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which shows when I should start seeds and when I can expect to harvest, based on my location. Another service that does this well is All Things Plants. If you’re willing to create your own planting schedule manually, seed packet labels often indicate when to sow and harvest based on your plant hardiness zone.
If you’re growing indoors, seasons and your location don’t really matter, of course. But other details do. For more info, read the indoor gardening guide.
Plant arrangement and quantity
OK—have your list of plants? The next step is to determine how many of each you need, and how you should arrange them. Here’s a handy guide:
Use this guide to determine how many plants you need and how you should arrange them.
As a general rule, you want to arrange plants like a pyramid. Put larger and vining plants, such as squash and tomatoes, on bottom (and avoid planting more than 4 of these, as they may crowd out other plants). Then put smaller plants, such as lettuce and herbs, on top. Placing larger plants beside empty growing ports or smaller plants is another smart strategy. This will help ensure they have enough room to grow.
Have everything figured out? Download and print this planting plan (PDF), and fill in the blanks with what you’ll grow to document your plan.
Tower Tip: Get detailed growing instructions for 11 different plants in the Resource Center.
Make sure you’ve stocked up on everything you need to get growing.
3. Secure Growing Supplies
Congratulations, you’ve made a glorious plan! But don’t forget to make sure you have everything you need to actually get growing. At a minimum, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Seeds or seedlings (of course)
- Tower Tonic Mineral Blend
- Net pots
- Rock wool cubes
While not essential, you may also want to consider these accessories.
- Tomato Cage or Trellis – Larger vining plants (e.g., indeterminate tomatoes, green beans, squash, etc.) need extra support for healthy growth.
- Weather Protection Blanket – This can protect your plants from late frosts and cooler spring nights. It’s also useful for preventing heat stress in the summer.
- Dolly – Planning to move your Tower Garden around? A dolly makes that pretty simple. Otherwise, have fun dragging 20 gallons of nutrient solution around. ;)
Click over to the Tower Garden store to order any supplies you need.
Summary and Next Steps
So, to recap, the 3 essentials of Tower Garden planning are:
- Finding the best location to grow
- Picking the right plants based on your preferences and growing conditions
- Stocking up on necessary supplies
Once you have the essentials covered, you’ll be well on your way to growing a successful Tower Garden.
Ready to execute your plan? Here are some helpful resources:
- Tower Garden manual (PDF)
- Plant arrangement guide (PDF)
- Location-specific planting calendar
- Fill-in-the-blank plan (PDF)
- Sources for seeds and seedlings
- Getting started videos
- Growing guides and videos
- Maintenance tips
Are you psyched about the approaching growing season? Comment below and share what you’re doing to prepare.
Leave a comment
Want to leave a comment? We'd love to hear it. Please note that all comments are moderated. Anything resembling spam will be deleted. Try to make this a meaningful conversation for all involved.