I’ve been fascinated with urban farming for a while, following stories about factory farms set up in cities using hydroponic systems to grow food without the need for pesticides or chemicals. The food is sold to restaurants as locally produced farm to table. But this led me to a new growing trend where people are doing it in their homes and backyards using systems designed for consumers.
What’s fascinating is, these revolutionary systems let you tower farm in places with a very small footprint. In other words, vertical farming. This is where a tube, with holes cut for the plants, let you grow vertically in a very small space like your balcony in an apartment. And you can farm most of your produce needs at home for very little money. People can make their own towers very cheaply. If you go to youtube there are plenty of videos like this one that show how to make one for under $10. Here’s another.
But these two systems you can buy are not really expensive. About the price of a good barbecue, but they pay for themselves and require very little materials and water. They allow you to home farm all year round.
The first system is Garden Tower 2. It uses soil and you can put 20 plants or more in your tower. The plants stick out of holes in the side, It has a central column where you throw in worms at the start and any compost or food scraps for the worm to digest, You water the tower from the top and it all trickles down through the soil which the worms have all left their droppings in which acts like powerful fertilizer for the plants. The water eventually collects in a reservoir at the bottom which you can reuse. Because it passed through the soil it will be full of ‘worm tea’ which is rich in nutrients. The plants that grow from this are way better than the stuff in the stores. There’s a video on the link that explains it in more detail. I am torn between wanting this one and the next one.
The second system is the Tower Garden. The system is similar except the tower is narrower and taller. It does not use soil or worms. Instead, the roots are hanging inside the tube and are watered on a continuous timer using nutrients. The water is reused so it trickles down into a tank and is pumped back up again. The plants that grow from this system seem even more impressive but this uses some electricity for the pump.
I am very interested in doing these once I get into a better space than I’m in now. Because there is nothing that compares to fresh, homegrown food. The taste is so much better and when you can do it without pesticides and other issues, it’s a lot healthier for you. The amount of work is way less than a normal garden. You will also see less bugs because it’s off the ground. No gophers and the like, though these systems are not good for root vegetables. It’s great for vine type plants and herbs. Also leafy greens.
There are tons of videos on YouTube about it if you search on Tower Gardens. If it interests you like it did me, check it out.
UPDATE: here is an affordable tower about half the price of the other two.