Shortly after we opened our Farm Store, David wanted to plant in a grow tower in the Farm Store to show customers that David's Garden Seeds® grow well in hydroponics. A grow tower is an indoor planter that has water in the base. The water shoots up on a timer to water the seeds and plants in little baskets that contain growing wool. It also has grow lights to provide adequate light for growing.
David has wanted to get a grow tower since we first moved into a store front back in 2015. But they are expensive and it was not in our budget back then. After we moved to the farm and started getting the building for our Farm Store ready for opening, he decided we would have one. He ordered it and it arrived several months, I believe, after we opened the store. Some of our employees put it together. The grow lights were not in stock so we had to wait for several months for them to arrive. In the meantime, they sent us some we had to attach up at the top. They were not all that great.
The grow lights for the tower finally arrived and our employees were trying to put them inside of the grow tower where the water goes up instead of on the outside. I had to explain how it works. I am glad I was there that day.
Once they had the tower set up, I planted seven different herbs and the seeds germinated after a few weeks. That was back in the fall of 2020. Since then, we have grown a lot of herbs such as mint, parsley, rosemary, lemon balm, spilanthe, thyme, and greens like lettuce, spinach, mizuna, kale, and other assorted greens. When they get so big, I either pull out the plant and plant into a pot to sell, or I cut the greens and let more grow.
Yesterday, Monday, February 20, 2023, I cut every large lettuce, spinach, and other greens for our animals and then I dismantled everything. I threw out all of the rock wool because it was all dark green and slimy with algae. I then soaked the little baskets in Dawn with some Clorox over night to clean them.
This morning, I went to work scrubbing the actual tower, trying to get off as much of the algae and calcium buildup as I could. As you can see from the photo, it was pretty disgusting.
Planting in a grow tower is convenient because you can grow things year round but they have to be small to medium. You can grow herbs and salad greens, peppers, and patio tomatoes, miniature veggies, but you cannot grow corn and full sized tomatoes as they get too big.
You will need little baskets and rock wool to plant the seeds. Most grow tower kits come with everything you need but the seeds and water. Ours came with fertilizers, rock wool, the baskets and the grow lights. You put water in the base and then set the timer for the water to go up and water the plants and set another timer for the grow lights to come on and go off.
Sometimes, the base of the plant gets too big and rips through the plastic grow baskets so you should invest in extra baskets and lots of spare rock wool. The rock wool is the growing medium for the seeds to go into when you plant in a grow tower.
I chose seven varieties of lettuce to plant in the grow tower, a different variety for each of the seven rows. From top to bottom, on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, I planted:
We will enjoy eating the lettuce and I know our chickens, guineas, and rabbits will enjoy it as well. It will be a healthy spring treat. Lettuce seeds are good to plant in a grow tower. That way, no varmints will get it and I can cut it fresh whenever we want it.
So once you have placed the rock wool into the little basket, you can add your seeds into the hole or snap the basket in place first and then plant. The holes in the rock wool are very small so I indent it with a finger to make it bigger. I put in at least three to six seeds per hole. I have planted before and after. I prefer to plant before it is snapped in place so I don't have to stand on a stool to see what I am doing. I am only five feet tall and the top row is much higher than me.
Now, every hole is filled with a grow basket. Every grow basket has rock wool and seeds. remember that when you plant in a grow tower, you don't use dirt. Rock wool is soft and sort of spongy. It comes in squares that are connected in big blocks. You rip or cut off the squares you need and separate each one. Save the rest for next planting. I also use rock wool when I am rooting plants out in the greenhouse. It makes it so much easier than having to fool with pots of dirt. I have used it to root mints and honeysuckle for years.
You can see the big planting holes I made in the rock wool with my finger. The holes they come with are hard to get seeds into. The rock wool is soft and easy to manipulate. I have found it is much easier to do it this way than to use tweezers to shove seeds into a tiny hole.
So now that the lettuce has been planted, I turned the water and the grow lights back on. David has them on a timer so I do not have to even think about how much water and light to give.
I do need to check on the amount of water in the base. I simply remove the piece with the company name on the base of the grow tower and pour gallons of water in. I believe it takes 14 gallons of water.
Also, about once a month, I have to put different chemicals that came with the kit into the water to help the plants grow better.
The directions that come with the kit say to germinate the seeds and then put them in the rock wool but I chose from the beginning to add seeds right into the rock wool and grow them totally in the grow tower. I have seen other grow towers where people plant the seeds instead of plants and it worked fine for them. It works great for me.
Well, three days after I planted the lettuce in the grow tower, about half of the pods have lettuce sprouts! Can you believe that? Talk about foods that grow fast!
Hydroponics In The Greenhouse (Coming Soon - David's Hydroponic System)
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