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Inspector’s Day Off:Garden Tower Build, Part 1

Updated: Mar 16

Do you ever wonder what a Home Inspector does on his day off?  He makes a garden tower planter for his wife (Watch the video). Why not? She likes to cook with fresh herbs.  Spoiler alert, so does he.  Why grow your own herbs and vegetables? 1)  Growing your own fresh herbs and vegetables makes all the difference on your table.  You control what you eat and the flavor often beats what you buy from the grocery store.  2) You know how fresh it is because you planted, grew and harvested it yourself. 3) You choose what you have on hand. Never substitute ingredients because your local grocer is out of what you need.  4) Today’s produce is often sprayed with chemicals (for freshness) or irradiated to increase shelf value.  Do we really know how healthy that is for us?  5) Be confident that you have your own fresh herb and vegetable supply should there be a substantial food shortage.

Why A Garden Tower 

It’s compact. You can place it in a corner of a room. It’s clean. It does not use soil. It’s scalable. You can build it to be as small or as large as your need.  One of the main reasons to use a garden tower is that you can control the environment. Although garden towers may be placed outdoors, most of them are located indoors, in a heated and cooled environment.  Your plants can often thrive in the same environment in which you live.  That means you can grow your favorite foods year round.  You may find this method so simple and inexpensive to do that you may want to build several towers.  Use them to grow herbs, vegetables, fruits and berries.

What is a Garden Tower

A tower garden is a vertical version of the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) way of growing plants. It does not require soil. Organic mediums like rockwool, perlite or ceramic pebbles take the place of soil by providing a base for the seedling and its roots. Nutrient filled water is circulated over the seedlings while the tower is subjected to either natural or artificial light.  Some people use natural and artificial light to grow their plants. There are different schools of thought, however; the main rule is to allow plenty of nutrient water and light.

When my wife and I first got into NFT gardening, we used a horizontal system.  We had moderate success with the horizontal NFT system but there were also some drawbacks. After additional research, we redirected to vertical systems.  We found some very well designed vertical towers; others… not so much.  We also found the cost of buying a well designed vertical tower system quite expensive. That’s when I did more research and thanks to the many creative online video producers and bloggers, I developed my own cost-effective way to build a garden tower.

Starting The Build

The ‘Building a Tower Garden, Part 1’ video is the first part of a 2 part video series. It lays the ground work of the project.  It’s a non-narrated version that gives you an impression of the first steps needed to start your build.  I used the tools that I have on hand but don’t be intimidated if you don’t have them.  Use the tools you have available and borrow the ones you don’t have.  A hand drill can be substituted for a drill press.  A hacksaw can replace a Dremel® tool.  Get together with friends to share tools and help each other build several towers. 

The Materials

Part 1’ has a list of materials and their sources in the description.  Use this as a guide in your build.  You can certainly replace items with ones you find in your local store or online but be sure to pay attention to the dimensions.  The dimensions are the key to your success.  Keep in mind that the video shows a 4 inch diameter tower being built but you can also build a 3 inch diameter tower of the same height.  Remember to use the proper 3 inch top cap and you’ll have to improvise a 3 inch top filter, if you do.  You should be able to complete the tower in one weekend.  Once you become proficient, you may want to build additional towers of different sizes, from desktop to 7 foot.

Be Inspired

Hopefully, you will be inspired to start your project. In the next newsletter, in this series, I will discuss the completion of the tower build. I will also detail the preparation and germination of your seeds and the preparation of the nutrient solution.  This will coincide with the release of part 2 of the tower build video.

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