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The Simplest Garden Tower


Garden towers are a great addition to any garden space.  That have a small surface area by which they cover while allowing one to utilize a space that is under served.  What is that space you may wonder?  It is the vertical space.  Yes, you can hang a basket or pouch to utilize this space, each one has its own pros and cons.  The pros of this approach are that a basket or flower pouch can be pretty much picked up anywhere and planted quickly.  You can even create a look that gives the appearance that this planting is mature, full, and been there awhile.  Also, as long as you have a hook, you can display your vertical garden but what you can do with this type of planting is limited.  A hanging basket can be planted in the top only.  I know you are shaking your head going I have seen some with holes in the side and that is true.  But the general hanging basket that can be purchased anywhere is one that can only be planted in the top.  As limiting as the basket is, the flower pouch is more restricting.  In this type of planting, you can only plant in the predetermined “x.”  What if that does not work?  What if you really want to do something different?  Well, the answer can be found in creating your own simple garden tower.

To begin this process one needs to understand this type of garden tower.  It is a vertical planter that is on the ground.  In doing so, you really need a sturdy base so select your base wisely.  I would suggest you lean toward a terra cotta or stone type of pot that has a drainage hole.  While we are going to be adding weight, the added weight of the pot will help. 

Another factor to consider when picking your container is its size.  It needs to be at least 16 inches in diameter. 

Once you have selected your pot, the next step in this process is to sterilize it.  How do you do this?  Well, the first step is to find a container that is big enough to hold the pot.  If you cannot find one big enough, you will have to scrub and rinse it outside.

If you have a container big enough to hold the pot, simply place it in the container that has been filled with warm water and a splash of dish soap.  Scrub the pot to remove soil and hard water stains if it is used.  If it is new, do not think you can skip this step.  You still need to sterilize the container.

Once you have scrubbed the container, rinse it and place it in the bright sunlight.  This latter step will sterilized the container even more through solar sterilization. 

After the pot has completely dried, you will need to fill it half way up with heavy stones.  This will add weight to the container while providing a way to secure the vertical material that is next.  What is this vertical material?  It is welded wire mesh.  This mesh can easily be found at any hardware store.

To create this particular vertical planter, you will need enough wire so that you can form a 34 inch high tube.  Once you have your tube, you will be placing it inside the container and securing it to the container by wedging it into the rocks.  To close the tube, wrap the loose wires on the ends around the other side.  This step will secure the two ends together and at the same time creating an intact tube. 

The next step is to create a liner.  While you could use something like landscape cloth, a unique approach is to use moistened sphagnum mos.  To begin this process and prevent the soil from falling through the tube, one will need to line the bottom of the wire tube with a thick layer of sphagnum moss.  Next, begin to add moss to the inside of the tube.  How does the moss stay in place?  Well, as you add the moss to the sides you also add soil.  You continue with this process until you reach the top.

Now, the fun begins.  But wait a minute, how do you plant?  The answer is simple.  To begin this process, one will need a plant and a pencil.  I have found through many years of gardening that the easiest way to plant this type of planter is to poke a hole through the sphagnum moss.  Then, you can work the root of your plant into the hole.  Next, gently seal the hole up by pushing the soil together and then closing up the sphagnum moss.  Repeat this process for each plant you have.

Ok, now what kind of plants can you use in this vertical planter.  The answer is really simple and depends on where you place your planter along with the types of plants you like.  The key to the selection is two-fold.  First, they need to have the same growth requirements and two; they need to have a small root system starting off.  If the plant itself appears to have too large a root system, consider taking off some of the soil around the root mass.  Doing this will serve two purposes.  One, it will reduce the bulk of the root ball and two:  it will tease the roots.  This teasing will allow the roots to grow outward.

Need some ideas?  Well, here are a few of my favorites.  What about using your garden tower as a succulent planter?  The positives of using this type of plant is the fact that they are easy to root and have small roots.  The best part is they can survive if you neglect the container.

My next favorite idea is one that can survive at least three seasons, which includes spring, summer, and fall.  To create this type of planter, start out by planting the tube with pansies.  Do not fill each space but instead leave some of the surface open.  Once the pansies start to dieback, go in and fill in with something like marigolds, begonias or even ivy-leafed geraniums.  Then when fall appears and the pansies come back to life, consider pulling out the annuals planted in the summer and fill in with small flowering cabbages and/or flowering kale.

Lastly, plant your garden tower with edibles.  While tomatoes and peppers would be a challenge in the side, you can plant it with different types of lettuces, onion sets, herbs, and even radishes. 

Regardless of what you plant your tube with; to keep it looking its best one will need to water it.  This can be a challenge.  To keep the soil and moss in the tube, simple water with a slow trickle.  This will give the plants time to drink up while the water finds its way to the bottom of the pot instead of out the sides.


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Rotate Certain Crops

Avoid planting potatoes and tomatoes where they grew last year. They carry the same diseases, so it's best to rotate them.

You'll have much healthier plants, and more successful crops.

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