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The Garden Tower 2 Review

By dave
May 9, 2016

What a pleasure to get my hands on this combination vertical garden/vermicomposting system. Watch my video and read about this innovative gardening container.

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Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 9, 2016 4:36 PM CST
This is like a patio version of that gardening system I learned about from you, can't remember the name, but the concept was sort of a raised "chimney" structure for a compost bin, placed in the center of a garden bed.

I did click on a couple of earlier articles and noted that the original target price was $200... and the current price in their online store is a "sale" at $359. I guess the plastic extruding equipment was more of an investment than anticipated.

I was curious, so I did a quick calculation... Even at that price, if you spend $5+ / week on salad greens and fresh herbs that you could grow in it, it would pay for itself in a few years, in addition to the fun and healthy-food factors of growing your own. Without factoring in potting mix, seeds, etc., figure $5/week, for 20 weeks per year, May - September... that's $100 savings per year toward the price of the system. So in 4 years, the structure is paid off, and it should last twice that long.

The design is elegant in its simplicity. I won't invest in one myself, but I'm glad to know it exists!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
May 9, 2016 6:16 PM CST
Yikes, that is expensive! But it sure is clever.

Karen
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 9, 2016 7:09 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I have to admit, I don't like spending a lot for things, but if I lived in an apartment, or even a house on a tiny lot, I would consider this to be an excellent investment, and I would buy it.
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 9, 2016 7:43 PM CST
That was my opinion, too... I'd get one in a heartbeat if I had only a sunny balcony for a garden space... two, if I could fit them LOL.

Can you remind me please of what that other gardening method is called, with a tall compost pile in the center of a small garden plot?
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
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DogsNDaylilies
May 9, 2016 8:33 PM CST
What a neat product! I don't have a tiny yard, but I have a yard full of hard, compacted clay, so this may be a consideration in the future if my small, cheap vertical strawberry planter doesn't work out. I love that it works with vermicomposting, although I wonder how hard it would be to move it to a sheltered (warmer) location in the winter so the worms don't freeze.

Edited to change "vermiculation" to "vermicomposting" ...apparently that isn't a word my autocorrect understands. :D
[Last edited by DogsNDaylilies - May 14, 2016 7:31 AM (+)]
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
May 9, 2016 8:35 PM CST
Winter was also my concern. Any/all plastic is subject to constant freezing/thawing here in winter.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 9, 2016 9:34 PM CST
I'm also wondering about enough sunlight getting to all the plants. Does it still rotate easily now that it's full of wet potting soil? As far south as Trish & Dave's farm is, probably the sun gets to it enough through the summer months, but maybe not so much further north, or in spring and fall? I'm thinking of it for my kids in Salt Lake City, and I also have a friend in Connecticut that might be interested.

Please let us know how much you have to water it, (that's a lotta plants in a small space!) and as the season progressed, how the different plants did.

Won't the worms get too hot in there, in the height of a Texas summer? We tried a little worm bin at the school garden, and even in March, it got too hot for the poor worms if it had any sun at all.

So many questions, but it really does look like something that would work.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
May 10, 2016 5:52 AM CST
Yes, the cold winter is the reason I've never tried worm composting, too. They just have to find their way into my outdoor compost bin on their own.

Karen
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 10, 2016 7:54 AM CST

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I keep my worm bins out all year long and it does get cold (we have freezes and occasionally even into the lower twenties or upper teens) and they seem to do fine.

DogsNDaylilies said:I wonder how hard it would be to move it to a sheltered (warmer) location in the winter so the worms don't freeze.


Forget the idea of moving this thing when it's full of wet soil, but if you let it mostly dry out, you could use a dolly to wheel it around.

dyzzypyxxy said:Does it still rotate easily now that it's full of wet potting soil?


Yes you can see in the video that I rotate it after I finished planting. It has a nice bearing system and rotates almost as easily as when it was empty.

dyzzypyxxy said:Please let us know how much you have to water it, (that's a lotta plants in a small space!) and as the season progressed, how the different plants did.


I will, and I'm imagining that I'll need to water it a lot. Containers here need watering daily and I expect this'll be the same.

dyzzypyxxy said:Won't the worms get too hot in there, in the height of a Texas summer?


I asked the GT2 people that very question and their answer was logical: since the worm bin area is internal to the system, it is protected and insulated by all the potting soil. This means that when it's a hundred degrees outside, the interior doesn't heat up that much. That makes sense to me. We'll know for sure by the end of this season. Smiling
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
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pardalinum
May 10, 2016 10:36 AM CST
@critterologist Jill, you may be thinking of a "keyhole" garden. My daughter in law just built two of them.

https://www.google.com/search?q=keyhole+garden&ie=utf-8&oe=u...
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 10, 2016 11:04 AM CST
Yes, that's it!! Thanks for jogging my brain. I'm thinking of doing that with the garden bed behind the back deck, since I often toss coffee grounds (and more) out there during the winter when I don't want to or can't take it out to the regular garden to spread around or bury. By spring, most of it has decomposed, and anything that hasn't just gets turned into the soil before I plant out my amaryllises and other tropicals for the summer.
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 10, 2016 11:30 AM CST

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Yes, sorry Jill for not answering that one. It was the keyhole garden, like Connie said. Smiling
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 10, 2016 12:15 PM CST
Thanks! Not trying to get this discussion off topic, but this tower really does seem like a compact version of the same principle, with its central core for worm composting!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Region: Pacific Northwest Lilies Sempervivums Sedums
Pollen collector I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
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pardalinum
May 10, 2016 1:30 PM CST
I wouldn't be surprised if my DIL spent $359 making her keyhole gardens. Chicken wire, hardware cloth, some kind of canvas stuff and then countless bags of potting soil. I need to get over there and see are they are doing.
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Region: Pacific Northwest Lilies Sempervivums Sedums
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pardalinum
May 10, 2016 1:32 PM CST
I was thinking the same thing, Jill. The tower is a lot more convenient though and has a small footprint. It layers upward whereas the keyhole garden has one planting plane.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
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cybersix
May 11, 2016 2:58 AM CST
That's a clever idea. But what happens when plants get bigger?
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 11, 2016 9:09 AM CST
I think I'd stick to planting plants in it that don't get too large. Might have to supplement with fertilizer, and for sure until the worms get into major production.

Dave, did you put any fert on the plants you planted?

I'm visualizing some other uses for this, like a tower of Caladiums in a shady spot in my garden . . . keep the worms cooler, not quite so much water demand, plants don't get too huge . . lots of possibilities!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
May 11, 2016 9:16 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

A tower of caladiums is an excellent idea!

No, I didn't put any fertilizer in. I'll probably top dress with compost as the season progresses.
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 11, 2016 10:06 AM CST
They have some photos on their website showing squash plants in a couple of the holes... I think I'd stick with lettuce, swiss chard, basil and other herbs... maybe edible flowers like nasturtiums... cucumber plants would probably do OK also, or 'Tumbling Tom' cherry tomatoes. But I like the ornamental ideas, too. A tower of caladiums would make a huge statement!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
May 11, 2016 10:29 AM CST
Sorry, but the questions keep popping into my head - if you water from the top, (using the yummy worm-casting enriched water) do all the pockets get moist, all the way down? Or will you give it a shower with the hose once in a while? Or have to water the lower tier directly sometimes?

A better way to state this question would be: How much water does it take to moisten the whole tower all the way to the bottom tier? Could you let it dry a bit, and then measure this with a watering can or something, Dave?

I guess it's also going to vary depending upon how much the upper tier plants "drink" on the way by.

One more - how much potting soil did it take to fill it up?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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