Aeroponics - our experience growing vertically
You might be wondering what this massive tower is, well all our new interns were wondering the same thing when they stepped into the office last week. The tower is our brand new grow tower that we got from the Parkdale Food Centre. A grow tower is a vertical aeroponic growing system that allows you to grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. The tower does not take up much space and you can grow everything inside!
A grow tower not only looks interesting, but it also has benefits to you - the gardeners out there. One interesting feature that the grow tower has is "grow lights" and they allow you to grow plants year-round. One downside is that we found out these grow lights use a lot of energy. Thirdly a grow tower reduces the amount of water used when gardening. So that means our water bill is not making a massive dent in our pockets. The design of the grow tower also has some advantages as it has a vertical design taking up less space. Finally, one big advantage of a grow tower is that pollution and pests are not a big problem. Instead of growing in unknown soil, plants are grown in something called Rockwool. This means that the grower does not need to worry about city soil that could be potentially contaminated. With all these possible benefits we thought, why not give it a try and see it for ourselves.
How did we use our grow tower?
Well, first we had to decide where exactly we wanted to put our grow tower. Our office has a lot of open space and direct sunlight shining in, meaning that it is somewhat optimized for a grow tower. We ended up putting it in a nice open space near a window to get maximum sunlight. Our greenhouse operators Erik and Daryna then had to pick what exactly we wanted to put in the grow tower. They chose a variety of plants like lettuce, swiss chard, basil and parsley.
Once we have made a plan and got all our supplies it was time to start planting! To plant the seeds we had to soak the Rockwool starter cubs for 30 minutes. We placed our seeds in their allotted holes in our starter tray. Once the seeds were placed in the hole, we filled each seed hole with dry, coarse-grade vermiculite (included with the grow tower). We sprinkled a little water over each hole to wet the vermiculite and also added water to the bottom of the container. After a few weeks, our seeds were healthy and big enough to be placed in our grow tower.
Our next step was filling the reserve of our grow tower and adding nutrients. Using a hose our greenhouse operators filled our reservoir within 3 inches of the top lid (approximately 20 gallons). Next was adding the mineral blend and mixing it into the water to add nutrients. We then had to make sure that our pH levels were perfect. Following that, we had to secure the pump to the grow tower and ensure that our timer was set correctly.
Since putting in our grow tower it has become a fixture in the office and it is usually the first thing that people notice when they walk into the room. Our greenhouse operator Daryna has been maintaining the grow tower by checking the water levels, pH levels, keeping it clean and ensuring that the water is cool. Oh, and before we let you go, the grow tower has a nice calming effect at the office with water constantly running. On the other hand, the grow lights could be a tad blinding so beware of that. So far our seeds are still in the process of growing so, be sure to stay tuned into our social channels for updates!
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