Enough With The Tomatoes!

The Green Tower (GT) was a moderately successful experiment at vertical  vegetable gardening this spring and summer.

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We constructed this vegetable/herb tower last winter/spring in hopes of maximizing veggie production within a  limited space.  You can read about the project here.  After a cool start to the summer vegetable growing season,

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the GT produced  several varieties of peppers, some yellow squash, cucumbers, basil, mint, green beans and two varieties of tomatoes.  I lost the zucchini early on and was bummed because it’s one of my favorites to grow, but the yellow squash was delicious and it produced a decent amount for one plant. There wasn’t a bumper crop of any particular veggie, but enough for us to enjoy.

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The exception was that the tomatoes loved the GT and performed admirably.  I grew a Celebrity tomato,

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and an unknown (at least I don’t remember what it is and I didn’t keep the tag) cherry tomato.  It was very happy here.

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I’ve sautéed, baked, grilled, sauced and popped-in-the-mouth these cherry tomatoes all summer.

I’ve enjoyed these tomatoes.

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But I’m tired of them.

The leaf-footed (aka, stink) bugs

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of all sorts,

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…have arrived to suck the life out of the toms.  It’s time to pull out the spring vegetable garden.  I’ll toss the garden detritus into the compost. No doubt, I’ll have tomatoes growing from there next summer.

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I’ll leave the basil,

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and mint,

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and one of the peppers,

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for harvest until the first frost.  I’ll add some fall vegetables next month.  I plan to germinate seeds for cool season greens (lettuce, kale, spinach) on the top of the tower for transplant along the sides during winter and early spring.

Irrigation of the GT was tricky because it proved difficult to keep the sides evenly moist. We enjoyed several soaking summer rains which helped, but I’ll add another aeration pipe (there’s only one, you can see it in the original post).  Because the holes throughout the pipe allow water to leak into soil, watering slowly into the pipe was the best way to irrigate the breadth of the tower, including the outer sides of the GT.  A slow soak assured little run-off and wastage of water.  The soaker hose on top of the tower worked well for the majority of surface  irrigation, but the hose embedded into the soil toward the bottom of the tower was useless.

I wish we’d built the GT a foot or two shorter.  Considering the difficulty in  getting enough water to the plants in the sides of the tower, I think if the total square footage of the GT was less, the top soaker hose, coupled with watering through the aeration pipe(s), would solve the problem of side plants not receiving adequate irrigation.  There wouldn’t be as much vertical square footage in the GT, but the plantings would be better irrigated and therefore more productive.  That said, when it rained, the GT held moisture longer than I would have guessed, so I didn’t water constantly.  Also, there’s essentially no weeding–that’s a real bonus for this lazy gardener.

More to come from the Green Tower in its fall planting season!

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Mmmmm…broccoli, cauliflower, fall tomatoes, greens….

 

11 thoughts on “Enough With The Tomatoes!

  1. Snow peas? Cabbage? This is one of the best ways to “experiment” with a new system – watching and reading YOU do all the work. : ) We were checking out the straw bale gardening process recently then realized everybody around here has hay, not straw. SO close!

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    • Oh I didn’t even think about snow peas. I like cabbage–that too!! Have you considered a key hole garden? It takes lots and lots of paper/phone books, but yeah, it’s supposed to be a good way to go. This vertical garden certainly produced more than I’ve had in the past few years (uh, zero), but wasn’t quite as productive as I’d hoped. Tweaking, tweaking. I’m always tweaking things.

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      • Hey! I’d forgotten about keyhole gardens! I’m off to find some info to share with The Hub. I think it might be time for us to try one of those out. Thank you, Tina!

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  2. I love this idea and I am so grateful to see how you are working out the kinks. Going verticle is a great solution for small spaces. I am surpised watering was an issue considering the crazy May rains and also the size. I would have guessed it would hold a lot of water to meter out.

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    • Debra, the watering was only an issue when I had to water from the hose. I think that’s just because we have too much volume of soil and not enough of a transport method of getting moisture to that whole volume. With the heavier rains, the tower received enough for the entirety of the square footage. On the plus side, the moisture from those heavier rains didn’t dissipate too quickly, so after a heavy rain, it was a week or more before I needed to water.

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  3. gah ‘vertical’ that is. I saw a cool invention this year that was new to me. It was a clay pot that gets filled with water. It is placed in the center of a raised bed. Through osmosis the bed absorbs water as required. I am thinking of trying somthing like that with my winter greens.

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    • We have one of those in my neighborhood. I think the couple who commissioned it have been happy. It’s very attractive (unlike my rather ugly tower) and looks very nice. Good luck with that and keep us posted.

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      • I don’t think your tower is ugly at all! The pots I saw were kind of small and could be put in any raised bed. I am glad to hear they work because I had some doubts though apparently they were used a lot in Mexico back in the day.

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      • I wish my tower was a beautiful as the one I saw in Corvallis, Oregon. But, well, it’s Oregon and cool and wet. Or wetter.

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  4. Pingback: I Grow (Some) Of My Own | My Gardener Says…

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