Here’s a little (success) story for all of you determined Tower Gardeners out there. I purchased my TG in November of 2016, and promptly put it all together. And, there it sat, for nearly a year and a half, empty. Like so many things, life got in the way. But on top of that, I also had a lot of doubt to overcome.
My situation is unique, because I live on a boat. Not just a boat that sits anchored all year, but one that moves around, from port to port, and island to island, sometimes moving daily. My entire reason for wanting to grow things on the boat, is because of how difficult it can be to buy fresh vegetables (especially greens) in the out islands. After a ton of research, the TG stood out as the clear winner for my needs, mainly because it has such a small foot print. I bought it, put it together, then I sought out the advice of our fearless TG guru, Joe D.
Oooo… it turns out I should have spoken with Joe before I bought it… he had some very serious, valid concerns that it was even possible that a TG could work on a boat. His biggest concerns were:
Inability to keep it level
Since I already purchased it, and put it together, I decided to see if I could overcome these obstacles somehow. It took me a year and a half to build up the courage to do it, but I am thrilled to report, it is working beautifully!
To protect against too much salt spray, I set it up on our upper deck (about 10’ above the water). We try to never travel in rough seas (we are wimps), so the upper deck rarely gets direct salt spray.
To protect against heavy wind, I made a kind of jacket out of shade netting that I wrap around the tomato cage. We put this on when the wind is 20 knots or above, and when we are traveling. This incidentally helps if we happen to get any salt spray up high, too.
Keeping things level… this was the real nail-biter. Boats just aren’t level. There isn’t a straight edge, or flat surface to be found on them. Also, they kind of move. A lot. Our upper deck has a significant arch to it, so we had a custom base made that the reservoir fits perfectly in, and it compensates perfectly for the arch. At least with the new base, when the boat was level, the TG was level! But, what about all of the moving? There was no way to know until I tried.
I finally got the courage to start on April 1st 2018 (how appropriate), fully understanding that failure was a definite option. Instead, I have had wonderful success! I have been harvesting greens continuously since late April. I have a cherry tomato plant that wants to take over the world. My cucumbers have begun producing nicely, and I have several pepper plants with lots of fruit ripening as we speak. I even grew a few watermelons… go big, or go home, right?
It turns out, the fact that a boat moves a lot, is actually a benefit to my TG. It works more like a hand held watering can, than a static shower. The scariest obstacle turned out to be a bonus!
One other modification we did, was we changed to a 12VDC pump, and my amazing husband built an infinitely programmable DC timer to manage the on/off cycles with a tiny Arduino micro-controller. We chose to convert to DC so our solar panels and batteries could provide power more efficiently, instead of running it through an inverter. Sooo happy with our Towergarden!