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Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Posted by Rick_Merlander 11 (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 18, 13 at 1:01

I am considering buying a Tower Garden (towergarden.com). I've heard great reports that you can grow lots of vegetables with little time and maintenance and of course very little space. Anyone tried one for awhile -like a year or more?
- Are they really any less likely to have pest problems?
- Are there any problems or difficulties with these, or are they really worth the $500.
- Has anyone seen a similar product so I can test the concept out without having to spend $500 just to see if vertical growing in a liquid medium is terrific or not?
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Hydroponics, in general, has less pest problems than growing in soil. So that selling point really has nothing to do with the specific system. The reason being that since we've removed soil from the system, that eliminates most pest problems as they are predominantly soil borne problems.
Hydroponics is not set it and forget it kind of thing. you will still have to tend to it as you would any garden. There are just more benefits to it(IMO) than traditional gardening.
I'm not personally sold on vertical systems, but search this forum as it has been discussed many times. Also, search youtube for videos on the type system you're interested in. I am sure you can build an equivalent system for less money.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thanks. I can see that soil borne problems would be reduced, but it seems like a great many of the garden problems are from insects like white flies as well as airborne diseases, and these at first glance seem just as likely to occur in an open air hydroponics system, but is there something about hydroponics in general that make these problems less liklely or easier to deal with?
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Problems like aphids mites and white flies can still be a problem just as with soil gardens. a lot of critters have a larval stage where they live in soil. Since the soil is not in close proximity to the plants, the threat is reduced, especially when it is in the larval stage when the insect feeds on plants.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Very helpful answer, thanks. So, I take from your comments that locating the tower off the ground is going to be helpful, like even a foot or two is likely to reduce the larval stage problems - correct?

Rick merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Very rarely do I see any product with the word "hydroponic" on it that I think is worth the price. It costs a fraction of the retail price to build your own system, but the catch is that buying an overpriced system is the best way to learn enough about one so that you can reverse engineer your own.

Unless you're trying to make the most of indoor or greenhouse space, vertical growing is mostly a gimmick. It's much easier to cover a larger area when your plants are all on the same level. You can, however, take any hydro system and elevate it if you are growing a crop like strawberries or tomatoes, where the vines will hang down. The result is very similar to vertical growing.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

The nature of hydroponics generally keeps you from having any soil to plant contact so long as you don't let vines, leaves, and what not drag the ground. While some larval insects will travel great distances to get to food, in most cases, the parent bug instinctually lays its eggs near the food source so their "babies" don't have to go far to find it. So I suppose yes it will help but not as much as simply keeping the plants from touching the ground. And if you raise a vertical system 2 feet it make make getting to the upper tiers of the system difficult.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Robbie,
Space is really not much of an issue. I'm told Hydroponics is much easier and much more productive than normal in ground gardening. And much more reliable. I want to test out the idea, but I don't want to spend $500 to test it if I can do so for less. Know of any low priced systems that might give similar results to a $500 Tower Garden? Thanks for considering.
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

grizzman 10,

Thanks and I see your point, don't let any part of the plant contact the soil and become a bridge for soil insects. Good tip and relevant as I'll not want to start with viney type plants to avoid this problem. Thanks.
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Rick, if you really want to "get your feet wet" without spending bookoos, build a simple deep water culture system and see how you like it. a system like that can be built for probably $50 or so that will grow 6 to 10 plants depending on what they are. the air pump will be your most expensive investment at $20 or so. Of course those prices are mainland prices. I'm not sure how items on the island compare.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Sounds like a great idea to me. Ever seen any kits or simple plans for a system like this? Thanks for the suggestions.
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

The kits are so simple that often you can look at a picture and see how to make your own.

You can blow air bubbles in water or move the water itself to aerate it. Either way can work. If you use a water pump, you just have to squirt the water back down into itself. You can also pump it upward into a gutter or pipe that it flows through; that idea works well for longer rows of plants. General Hydroponics makes an machine called the "aeroflow." If you can see one operating in person or on a youtube video, that is a very popular machine to copy. People call it "NFT," That's technically a misnomer, but it's so widely used that it might as well be correct.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I went to the General Hydroponics web site and looked at their products. Very helpful tip and they had a wide variety of systems and all sorts of parts and literature. It helped just to see the variety of options. Thanks.
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I am thinking of also purchasing one of these units, as honestly, unless you are looking at a used unit they are the cheaper end of the spectrum. I find myself thinking that the net pots in the tower garden are very small and that would limit the number of things I might want to grow in it. I want to put one in my bay window, but have to tell you that if I find I like the set up I plan to check out the way it is made and make more units to match it. I like the aeroponics unit that I currently use and have found that tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce and strawberries grow incredibly well in the units, much better than in the soil. I experimented and started plants in both soil and a unit on the same day, the hydro plants are huge, and productive. I eventually pulled the soil plants, rinsed in cold water the roots and placed them inthe unit and they are trying really hard to catch up! I might reccomend going ahead and getting the unit so you can try growin in it and how you like it, if you love it, make more! The tower only houses 20 sites, which is not very many. I am hoping to grow lettuces and herbs in mine inthe kitchen. If I make more units I will make the sites larger,a nd possibly eventhe center tube larger, which may mean using a larger pump and more water hosing, but whatever works.Good luck.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I am thinking of also purchasing one of these units, as honestly, unless you are looking at a used unit they are the cheaper end of the spectrum. I find myself thinking that the net pots in the tower garden are very small and that would limit the number of things I might want to grow in it. I want to put one in my bay window, but have to tell you that if I find I like the set up I plan to check out the way it is made and make more units to match it. I like the aeroponics unit that I currently use and have found that tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce and strawberries grow incredibly well in the units, much better than in the soil. I experimented and started plants in both soil and a unit on the same day, the hydro plants are huge, and productive. I eventually pulled the soil plants, rinsed in cold water the roots and placed them inthe unit and they are trying really hard to catch up! I might reccomend going ahead and getting the unit so you can try growin in it and how you like it, if you love it, make more! The tower only houses 20 sites, which is not very many. I am hoping to grow lettuces and herbs in mine inthe kitchen. If I make more units I will make the sites larger,a nd possibly eventhe center tube larger, which may mean using a larger pump and more water hosing, but whatever works.Good luck.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

There's a set of pictures on what your looking for under Photobucket/ChristianWarlock. It's called a Waterfall Tower. You can make it yourself from PVC and plastic soda bottles.The whole thing of 22 slots, Sustainable and you can put it anywhere from window to lawn. May cost you $40.00. I dumpster jump so it only cost me $10 for the pump


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Shannon,
a standard vertical grower isn't your best bet when growing in a window. the plant sites on the rear won't get enough sun. 2" net pots are all you need for anything you'd grow in that kind of system. Really for any vegetable you'd grow. for larger plants the system is the limitation, not the net pot.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Grizzman or anyone,
Can you get good results growing vegetables with indoor Hydroponic systems assuming you can get them adequate sunlight through a window? If you can it seems like you could eliminate a lot of bug problems.

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Shannon,
Thanks for the comments! Sounds like you have already gotten some great results with your system, and it was very interesting to hear the results of your side by side testing of soil vs. Hydroponics.

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Rick, if you can get enough light through the window, then yes it works great. Here is a pic of a tomato plant I grew in my office window a few years ago.



I've grown a couple of varieties in that window with no problems and good results. notice what it is growing out of. That'd be a DWC system.

Regarding the soil vs hydro test. It is somewhat of a misnomer to compare the two. If you actually provide matching nutrient and moisture levels for the plant in soil as you do the one in hydro,. they will both grow at about the same rate. the hydro still does better because it's roots don't have to fight through soil, but there is not a dramatic difference. The difference is normally associated with the level of attention (or lack thereof) given to the soil grown plant.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Grizzman,
Thanks a lot for the information and the picture. That's a pretty big plant for indoors! This is very interesting since growing indoors might work for what I want to do. Thanks.

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Yeah, the window is about four feet tall and it filled the entire space plus some. That is why I had to coil it at the bottom.
I used the two shelves to hold it against the window. I also had a hook in the top of the window frame I could suspend the plant from when I was adjusting the height and pruning leaves.
On the lower shelf, that white "stick" is a cheap electric toothbrush I use to pollinate the flowers. I normally got at or near 100% fruit set with the indoor setup.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Hadn't even thought about the pollination. Sounds like a really effective set up and it sure looks like it worked well.The picture is really helpful also.

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

"I'm told Hydroponics is much easier and much more productive than normal in ground gardening. And much more reliable."

It can depend. Hydroponic could be less work but more thinking. One person can grow thousands of plants in a hydroponic system easily with not much work. Its just the start up costs to get to that point.

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 14:19


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Very interesting.Sounds like if I willl really set it up right it can work really well. Thanks,

Rick Merlander - Molokai Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I got the Tower Garden as a gift about 3 months ago and it got its pluses and minuses. We did get a black slow flying insect that we'd never seen in the regular veggie garden - seemed to lay eggs that ate holes in leaves. But now they are gone. Also has the bottom few rows completely eaten by our resident rats or squirrels. But plants are overall less bothered by bugs than when in the ground. It takes quite a bit of maintenance with the nutrients, water addition, ph monitoring etc. I dislike the sound of the pump destroying the peace in my yard. But the good news is we have a large crop of lettuces, kale, arugula, chard that's been terrific. I think it's great for someone with no land and only a patio or balcony for growing. But if you can plant in dirt I don't think it's worth it. Reason I'm on this forum now is looking for nutrient recommendations as ordering online from Tower Garden it's $40 for the solution and $20 for the shipping - makes for pretty expensive lettuce. I have 28 holes for plants so can grow quite a variety and they get big enough.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

catsandcanines
depending on how much you want to invest, you can buy individual components and build your own nutrients, you can buy a premixed 2 or 3 part nutrient or you can go the intermediate route. build your own is the most expensive up front but probably the cheapest per gallon cost over the life of the nutrients. the premixed 2 or 3 parts aren't too much on the upfront cost but $ per gallon is higher. I went the intermediate route. about $100 up front, but It'll last me probably 10 years or more, depending on how large a garden I want to grow.
Yeah, I know the answer is kind of vague, but let us know where your interest lies and we can better recommend some products.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

catsandcanines and grizzman

Interesting comments on the nutrients and pest problems. $100 for 10 years of growing sounds like a bargain! Thanks for the thoughts.

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

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I didn't read every post but I will still add my $ 0.02.

No mater if is a vertical or horizontal system buying a pre build manufactured system is a matter of what YOUR TIME IS WORTH. I have seen some really fancy Equipment and it doesn't grow any better than the Home Made.

A few years back a local TV station interviewed a women with a Big Hydroponic Garden that was growing big time. Every bit of her system was junk parts she put together from other peoples trash. My own Dutch Bucket system is kind of the same type of thing in the fact I used left over Buckets and Pipe. My reservoir is a 20 gallon bait Live well. I still had a couple hundred dollars in various parts etc. But I build it myself and enjoyed building it as much as I enjoy growing.

.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

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I didn't read every post but I will still add my $ 0.02.

No mater if is a vertical or horizontal system buying a pre build manufactured system is a matter of what YOUR TIME IS WORTH. I have seen some really fancy Equipment and it doesn't grow any better than the Home Made.

A few years back a local TV station interviewed a women with a Big Hydroponic Garden that was growing big time. Every bit of her system was junk parts she put together from other peoples trash. My own Dutch Bucket system is kind of the same type of thing in the fact I used left over Buckets and Pipe. My reservoir is a 20 gallon bait Live well. I still had a couple hundred dollars in various parts etc. But I build it myself and enjoyed building it as much as I enjoy growing.

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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Yo I'm new here and I've only recently gotten into Hydroponics but I'm a very fast learner. I looked into these tower gardens quite a bit and the methods they use to manufacture them. It really only costs them about $180 to build these things.. Its kind of a scam to ask for $500 when things similar to them are very easy to make yourself. they say their system uses aeroponic technology too, which they do not it is more NFT/ drip system. the picture is of the one I built. It works great, i got a bunch of tomatoes, peppers,
lettuce, and basil growing right now IN MY LIVING ROOM! Its been running on a timer for a little over half a month now.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thanks for the comment and picture, it looks like a neat set-up!

Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Hi Zoobloom and Hawaii! nice picture zoo! And congrats on your vertical project! I wouldn't describe "Tower Garden" a scam, in the world of hydroponics, though. BS marketing, for sure, but scam, ehhhh,…The margins are in line with all the hydroponics systems I see, so rather than singling it out, you’d have to call the whole industry a scam ;-)
As someone else said better than me in this thread long ago, it comes down to the value of your time. You mention it only costs them $180, which is not accurate in my opinion ... more like $100-120. $180 would be a decent mass-produced lowest price to the customer on Amazon IMO. To build one, is all effort, time and shopping, which many people have no time or enjoyment to do. They would rather just get a turn-key system that works. The plastic used and design of Tower Garden is far higher grade and durable than the smaller set-up you've pictured, although I'm sure you can grow miracles in yours, the capacity is smaller and plastics will degrade quicker.
I would prefer your system since I'm a hands-on type, but for someone else who just wants to get growing (since also time not up and running is production lost to the tune of a couple bucks a day… rather than get into the trial and error 'fun', Tower Garden isn't too much worse than the rest of the crowd. The marketing is definitely misleading. Sad they couldn't just sell it on its own merits for what it is and I’d have a more positive feeling about it.
That said, for anyone designing a similar DIY system, I think I've identified the pump used in their system as the AHM80435 (Hampton Water Gardens 300) which has a maximum head of 6.5 feet and a standard spec of 290 gph, and is adjustable.
It is a cheapo on one hand for a commercial system, but on the other hand for a DIYer like me, note Tower Gardens sells it for ~$31 shipped and taxed. That's a good deal since currently on Amazon it is about $45 shipped and consumes only 17W at full power and comes with 3/4" threaded barbs on inlet and outlet.
I'm not saying this is a great pump as some of the ECO pumps look more popular and less expensive for us penny pincher system integrators, armchair so far in my case ;-(.
But the ECO 396 gph is $27 shipped on Amazon ... seems to have no adjustable flow option like the AHM80435. The only other one similar I saw to swap out would be the Active Aqua Pump 400 GPH which is 24 Watts and also adjustable for $26.60 shipped on Amazon at the moment.
I got my info myself by surfing around pictures so I could be wrong. But I think I'm right since the Tower Garden w/maximum extension height is six feet high, which pretty much nails this one as the pump .... so maybe this will help another person curious about the appropriate pump size for a vertical set up.
Best!


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thanks for the comments, especially the details on the pump, I would have thought it was a lot more expensive given the Tower Gardens total price.

Richard Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thanks for the comments, especially the details on the pump, I would have thought it was a lot more expensive given the Tower Gardens total price.

Richard Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Mahalo Rick,

Yeah, that was my first impression and I guess I still haven't outgrown it. But really, the pump itself is a good pump made by Danner and exactly what is needed for this type of setup, which is just a simple vertical drip system (IMO not NFT but a whole lot closer to NFT than true aeroponic, that's for sure).

Since I busted Tower Garden (Gardenweb has incredible Search Engine priority, and TG is very careful not to show and specifications anywhere - which till now on the pump weren't anywhere in the Google results), I better explain myself better in case anyone actually decides to act on this.

It is possible the pump is the AHM80440 (396 gpm, 6.5' lift, 20W) instead of the AHM80435 (290 gpm, 6.5' lift also, 17W), but if your system is say 5 feet, putting a more powerful pump in is counterproductive. Anyone who has a system can post and tell us if it is 17W or 20W and then we'd be sure, but either pump is fine in sizing your own DIY system although Hampton doesn't seem to publish a gph vs. height graph so keeping a DIY under say 5.5 feet is a good idea for the 290 gph version. The 396 gph version is about $10 more. At Sears these are sold for around $80, so there is opportunity to save.

When I called it a cheapo pump it is more because I expected to find an aeroponic setup which to me means pressures of over 35 psi, if not 90 psi for best results. These pumps probably couldn't even handle 5 psi. So for true aeroponics - that was the context of my 'cheapo' comment. Higher pressure pumps are much more expensive and consume much more power. So when designing a system always make it efficient as possible and if done right there will be no nasty surprise on the electric bill.

Back to your original question - is it worth it? I just put my Ironman suit on... I'd have to call it a girly girl system. The design is sound, and there is little left to error and it is a cinch to assemble. The sales folk will be quick to take credit for all the produce $$$ you can grow and say of course (They think we work for free ;-) “we” are saving you all that (LOL, sarcasm). So if you are a DIYer willing to work with low grade plastics, and who can fix their own system on an enjoyable Sunday afternoon, probably this is a poor purchase.

But if you are clueless or simply just starting out and even a very quick study, it really that depends and this is a great way to get your hands wet. Because if it took you three months to get moving, you've invested an awful lot of time and effort, and gotten a new hobby and if making a tower, probably don't have as good a product if built on a shoestring. There are a few minor little details TG has that make it well thought out. Not to mention those three months you waited had a lost opportunity of $180 of veggies you bought. This is true with any turn-key vs. DIY project, so it could really be worth it if you just wanted to get going and grow in a restricted space, like an apartment or in front of your ice cream shop. Then, some people just aren't interested in building this sort of thing ... so they get to do cool hydroponic gardening with all the hype that is up and running in 25 minutes from the time UPS delivers the box.

But the first thing to do is evaluate whether you really want a vertical system at all. If you are not constrained by one tall window, or some gimmick of your own to display a garden say, for your own business, it is likely that a vertical system is not going to be what you would want in the long run, so maybe spend on an ebb and flow, or do what I’m doing ��" accumulate things you really need and get envious every time someone posts a picture with filled out beautiful veggies while I sit on my butt trying to decide ��" so far all I have is a pH meter and TDS meter. If I had started with Tower Garden with my limited budget, they wouldn’t be in the cards once they get you hooked, so there is a method to my madness, I hope…

All the little things tend to add up and I've never had a DIY project that turned out as cheap as I thought, even when I don't count my time…Hope this helps... Pupilla


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

It does help and thanks for giving me both sides of the picture - the pros and the cons to DIY. And good point about whether or not a vertical system is really the best option.

Richard Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I have to agree with everything pupilla says. Not only did you figure out the type of pump that I use, but also you figured out why i love my system. It is because I made it myself and it works great. There is nothing more relaxing to me then audibly hearing my pump turn on from the timer and listening to the water flow through the inside of the system on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I highly recommend the Danner Supreme Classic Utility Pumps. They are so quiet and freakin work horses. These are totally solid pumps that feel like they will last a lifetime when you hold them in your hands.

When I first started building my system I did very little research I had the image of what I wanted in my head and kinda figured it out as I built it. I had seen the tower garden and similar designs from other diyers, but I wanted something even cheaper. The only other vertical system I have seen that is very similar to mine in materials used cost the builder $300 which is a little outrageous for a college student like myself. I found a way to get this whole thing built just under $100. This price however does not include any of the supplies to start growing plants: mediums, nutrients, etc. Which in themselves was around $65 from my local hydro store. I am in no way saying this was easy. As aesthetically pleasing as the tower is in my living room, I have had horrible issues with the ease of access to the pump and valve themselves. I realize now the pump I am using maybe just too powerful.

This is only the beginning for me. Never, have I had something I am so intrigued with come from my own hard work and, eventually, with an edible pay off. The system I have will be the first of many.

this is 9 days later from my picture above


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Neat looking system! Very good tip on the pump access also, I sure had not thought of that one.

Richard Merlander - Molokai - Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

PupillaCharites - Could you share your knowledge about the nutrients that you use for the Tower Garden? What I also need to know is how to test the nutrient solution, other than just checking the pH.

Christine


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I've answered you specifically in your new thread, so let's keep it there. Generally any properly mixed hydroponic fertilizer will be fine. I don't have a Tower Garden (if it were $150-$200 I would get one though).

Keep in mind all the Tonic hocus pocus is just marketing hot air designed to keep Tower owners from going outside their brand. They are constrained to the most basic fertilizer formula there because all plants have different requirements and preferences, and they need to make a one size fits all using the "Keep It Simple (S)". But the reality is one size fits all usually has its drawbacks.

As I mentioned there a good strategy at 30,000 feet = the short answer -- is just to measure the EC (a composite number representing the strength of the fertilizer) of their freshly mixed solution and buy a bagged hydroponic fertilizer and mix it to the same EC value. That would be your baseline, it would work fine, and like everything in gardening you could make adjustments as you got more confidence and experiment to get even better results for specific crops.

If it wasn't clear, the wild card is your well water if it has lots of dissolved solutes. You can get a handle on that also with the EC meter. The Tonic may or may not offer alternate formulations for hard water, and we can't be sure how available the naturally occuring minerals are to the plants. That is an issue whether you use the Tonic or a mix, so it is really not more complicated to use your own. I'm guessing they ignore it to keep things simple, but many people in this forum are more sophisticated and definitely anyone commercial would define and experiment with the effects of their water.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I've been going back and forth on getting one of the Tower Gardens, and instead I just priced out all the materials I think I'll need and pulled the trigger on building my own. Found most of the parts on Amazon, and I'm getting free shipping on everything so far. It won't be as pretty and it will take me longer, but based on the stuff I *would have* bought with the retail Tower Garden I should save about $380 bucks on a very similar setup. I've spent about 280, may creep closer to $300 before I'm done. So far the majority of the plastics I've got will be all food-grade rated. 32-gallon trashcan for the reservoir, and I'm going to get my hands on some free five gallon buckets for the "tower" itself. It'll take me a little while, but it should be a fun build. I'm brand new to hydroponics so this isn't maybe smartest way to start, but I'm looking forward to a little challenge. :-)
-Philip


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

You can build one for under $100. I made a step by step guide and downloadable templates early this year.

I called it 'The Rain Tower'. I have a web page dedicated to the instructions and improvements: http://www.tomorrowsgarden.net/content/rain-tower-vertical-hydroponic-system

I post all videos of the various ones people made from my videos. One woman in Florida built four of them. I embedded her video on the page with all the others.

Here's a photo of it from last December growing 12 heads of lettuce under 400w metal halide.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tower Instructions

This post was edited by project_gardener on Thu, Jul 25, 13 at 8:29


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Is the Tower Garden worth the big bucks? Well, I have one and I am still asking myself that same question! I know some other people that have them and they are just thrilled about theirs because they don't know how to garden in the ground. Because they sell them they get a huge discount. There is a massive commission built into the price when bought from a rep. But, just to be more accurate, $500 only gets you the basic model with only 20 holes. I spent a bit more to increase mine to have 28 holes. It's the maximum height that the provided pump can handle. The other reason why this is the max height is to prevent tower tipping in severe wind. The top is not secured to the reservoir. There are 2 holes in the top and base that can be used to thread zip-ties through, if desired.

There was a discussion about pumps. I looked at mine and it says: Sunleaves.com, SDH 230, 20W, max height 6.5'. I was told that it is a low cost pump to run. I've had mine since April and I didn't notice an increase in my electric bill from it.

I have my TG on my screened deck where I wanted something that was ornamental as well as functional. Since I don't know anything about hydroponics, the turn key approach worked best for me.

Christine


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Christine,

When I put up the video on how to build them the sales reps on YouTube that sell them kept attacking me saying it was unsafe to use fence post. A college professor said there is no problem with using it. I actually had to block 2 of them from posting under the video. I never had to block anyone before.
As if I'm stealing their business.
I put the video up January 31st this year and it has over 28,000 views. Maybe if they lower the price they'd sell more and stop people from making their own.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Project, website and picture were great, and this is the nicest home built unit I have seen - really looks professional. Happy, very helpful comments and I did not know about the 28 hole unit. Good perspectives! Thanks.

Richard Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I've had the tower garden for 3 years now. Expensive? yes. but, I work full time and just don't have the free time to run all around trying to put something together homemade. Maybe when I retire. I love this system. vertical means less foot print, easy to tend to all the plants. mine is outside on the ground. very bug free, and I live in North Florida. Right now have swiss chard, spinach, 2 types lettuce, broccoli, a couple Brussels sprouts i'm trying for 1'st time and 4 strawberry plants. I contacted the juiceplus people who sell them to get the stronger commercial pump so I can max it out at 11 buckets, 44 slots. Seems like I use less water than planting in dirt, but that may be due to Florida's crummy sandy soils. Come March I will clean out the winter crop and switch to a spring garden. By June I'm done til fall. If I take good care of this system and max the crops, i'm sure it will pay for it self eventually. even if it doesn't, having pesticide free veggies and lettuce is worth the extra. Also, the whole structure can be turned daily so no side is always shaded. I love the sound it makes too, like small water fall out my bedroom window. Unless your indoor areas get 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight, i'm not sure the plants would do that well. Most veggies need a lot of direct sunlight to do well otherwise they get spindly. I did tomatoes last spring, did so well they took over an 8 by 8 deck I had it on. Next spring I will trail the tomato vine away from the tower to a trellis. Ask me other questions if you have them...and no, i'm not a rep or sell them...just an avid gardener. Oh, another bonus, off the ground means no dirt or grit on the chard, spinach, lettuce. I just harvest and eat!! if your a chard lover, you know this is an added bonus!


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

The commercial Tower Garden system, like many hydroponic systems will not break even on a small scale vs. buying your veggies unless you consider it part of, for example a restaraunt marketing strategy giving chefs fresh food to use before customers' very eyes to showcase hydroponics for them.

The pump required to go 11 modules high is nothing special, same garbage we all buy made in China like the standard 1-year guaranteed pump included in the 5 bucket system.

Just put in an approx. 900-1100 gph mag drive pump (measure the actual height the pump lifts from inlet to the 'shower cap' opening, for your particular amount of buckets and add 2 feet to select the right size, and be sure the connector is the right one).

No need to retire to pay through the nose and get the same quality pump since they will get you on shipping too. If pump selection is not a no-brainer, many people in the forums are happy to help, but if you prefer, JP+ will settle everything without worries as long as you pay them generously for the value added service of doing your research for you and getting the right Chinese pump with a TG sticker slapped on it and give you your money's worth of NASA, breaking even soon, and so forth pep talk.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I am very new to the hydroponic scene. This is my NFT system and i didn't spend but maybe $300. 95 Plants in it. I agree it is not a built it and leave it be project. My kids and I check it every day, we eat from it every day. Now the fun part. My garden is about 7 foot tall. I just put 4 20' 3/4" PVC pipe over it to make a hoop greenhouse and covered it with come greenhouse plastic. I live in Austin Texas and we will see s days of freezing weather before spring sets in so i felt it was a necessary build. I think i am 8 or 9 weeks into growth and my lettuce plants at 2'-3' tall. I did have some caterpillars on the Broccoli leaves and corn plants. I just have to kill them when the kids are in bed. LoL. All my plants are from seeds which i sprouted in Grodan 1" or 1.5" grow cubes. Then i put them into 3" Net Pots. I use House & Garden A&B Flakes and use about 300ml every week. The barrel is 55 gallon and each time we get 5" of rain it comes up out of the ground. (IM WORKING ON A SOLUTION) Also i got my material list on You Tube and faxed it to Home Depot who put together a bid and pulled it out for me when i paid it and had it ready for pick up . I didnt use all of it and i had planned on using 7 4" PVC pipes but my HOA wanted me to keep it under the fence line. So i have 5 pipes total.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

That is a knockout-great system Mycle, absolutely beautiful. Wasted, hidden away at the end of this thread which about some hydroponic gimmicks (not necessarily bad gimmicks which depend on interests, DIY (Do it yourself) aptitude vs. DIFM (Do it for me) and related available time and disposible income). Congratulations on all counts!

By coincidence (well, not exactly, we happen to be at the identical latitude so that helped) it is exactly what I am mulling regarding the hoops. Could you share kindly the base diameter you got on a single hoop, from ground contact point to ground contact point, and I assume you kept the 20 ft length intact?


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Lots of great comments and discussion, and Mycle thanks for the picture of your unit, it looks terrific! Really interesting idea to lay it out horizontally like you did. Thanks.
Rick Merlander - Molokai, Hawaii


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I've been under attack from all the sales reps from Florida this year. I just put the home made version out there for free.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thanks Rick Merlander & PupillaCharites fo the kind words. It is so much fun. What makes Hydroponics so much better....... NO WEEDS!!!!!!!!Happy Growing. I am looking forward to SPRING CROPS and possibly a 2nd garden with Fruit Trees and Bushes.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I would like to give an answer to the OP (original post), is the "Tower Garden" worth $500. Yes!
The plastic is made from polycarbonate (food grade plastic). It is BPA free, and the best USDA approved plastic that you can buy. What this means is that the UV light coupled with hot and cold surface temperatures and the caustic nutrients that most aeroponics systems use will not lead to the plastic leaching any toxins into your water supply. Standard PVC pipe is not meant to be used above ground because sunlight will cause it to degrade and become brittle. As the PVC degrades it leaches into your water, the water feeds the plants and in turn, you eat toxic plants.

This is a picture of my towers on day 1.

Here is a link that might be useful: PVC vs Polycarbonate


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Save $400 and follow my directions that are FREE! Screw that company! They have a bunch of idiots promoting what you can create at home and making HUGE commission off of each sale. FREE = http://www.tomorrowsgarden.net/content/rain-tower-vertical-hydroponic-system

Here is a link that might be useful: Build your own system free!


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

ScottBerry 9 just registered today to promote a product that can be made for free and to make you pay for it.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

project_gardener, I think you are misreading my reply to the OP, he asked a question that a lot of people ask. Is it worth paying $500 for a "Tower Garden". I only told him the truth as I know it.

Putting aside the fact that "Green Peace" has named PVC "The Poison Plastic",...PVC costs a lot less than Polycarbonate, and my tower gardens tower is made of 5-7 sections 1/4 inch thick, each section has it's own root bed so the roots lay at a 90% angle from the tower to better absorb nutrients and re-oxygenate the water as it goes to the next tier down. A lot of research went into making this the best at what is does. You pay for what you get.

So, my answer after looking over your link is still, Yes it is worth it.... PVC is made from vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and ethylene dichloride (EDC). VCM is a potent carcinogen.
PVC fence post covers are made to last in the sun more so than PVC pipe. In its natural state, PVC is rigid, brittle and highly susceptible to degradation in sunlight, hence the need for stabilisers (often heavy metals) and softeners (such as DEHP)....This is what you want in your tomatoes? Ever hear of "Dioxin"? PVC is bad just plain bad.

Please don't see me as anything other than a "Promoter" of wellness.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Poison Plastic


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Rubbish. The Dunning-Kruger effect strikes again.

How can we close threads rehashing unintelligibly prior unintelligible arguments that regularly turn up like a bad penny?


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

What is rubbish? Why must we be rude if our opinions differ? I answered the OP's question about the cost of the tower garden and gave some facts with links to back them up and I got trolled for it... and as funny as your Dunning-Kruger effect statement was, it's inaccurate. I don't think I'm more skilled or even equal to some of the posters here, I started growing using aquaponics in '85 and I still learn something new every grow cycle.

I have built just about every vertical aeroponic system I can find the schematics for, from walls to towers and I even built the NFT system that Mycle2313 has and none of them were what I was after. I wanted a smaller footprint and I wanted it on wheels. I now have 84 plants with a 2.5'x7.5' footprint that I can move....soon to be 112@2.5'x10' or 5'x5'.

As far as the PVC and UV radiation issues, Mycle might be able to vouch for this. I just moved from Austin in June '13 the summer of '12 we had over 100 days in a row of over 100 degrees, I saw 102 degrees at 1am..so it was hot. My NFT system was about 7 months old at the time and I was having trouble maintaining my PH for more than 48 hours so I pulled everything out, pulled it all apart and started cleaning the pipes inside and out. I went through a bunch of paper towels before I got smart and used some old colored t-shirts. After I was done I laid out the t-shirts to dry and started to put it all back together again. The t-shirts dried and they were covered with with powder, it was the PVC..., had my family and I been eating this?... PH was fine again but this time only for 3 months.
It was at that time I'd had heard about Tim Blank and the Future Growing urban farm projects. This is something I can get into I thought...and I did.
So here we are with the Dunning-Kruger effect in full swing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Future Growing urban farm projects


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

1. Tower Garden is not a Vertical Aeroponic system.
2. Mycle's baby is not an NFT system.
3. Temperature is one variable. UV intensity is a different variable.
4. Lot's of new stuff you are providing me, thanks.
5. You're really into Tim Blank, I get it.
6. You're probably a nice guy at heart, so if I owe an apology for that, consider it tendered without reservations.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Hugs? or if that's too weird we can do that exploding fist bump hand shake my daughter showed me.

Just a couple questions.
1. Why is the Tower Garden not a Vertical Aeroponic system? Everything I have read about aeroponics seems to be represented in the Tower Garden.
2. How is it that Mycle's system is not NFT? Because his slope is too steep?

All joking aside, I joined this website to learn... so please, learn me.

..and thank you for being nice.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Anything under the banner of mutually respectful peace! It was your "Please don't see me as anything other than a "Promoter" of wellness." right next to the "PVC poison" link that set me off. If you aren't here just to promote Tower Garden with the standard talking points and MLM mantra, peace is much preferable to me.

Attempt at your first question-
1. TG is a nicely designed system which puts plant roots in a timed drip irrigation system. In the development of scientific literature on aeroponics, the major coup of "aeroponics" is the ability to use surface tension of nebulizing micron sized droplets to dramatically increase nutrient absorption with extremely small amounts of water.

2. TG's trademark registration is for a hydroponic product, and makes no mention of aeroponics. "Aeroponic" is a commercially supported marketing redefinition which gives consumers the impression in advertising that the manufacturer has done more than the actual product offers. This is materially the same problem with BPA-free claims which the FTC has specifically cautioned consumers are frequently very misleading (or see §260.9 FTC green guide, 2012)

3. TG uses rockwool and intermittent drip irrigation as growing media, aeroponics has been defined previously as not requiring any medium, only pure air and nebulized mist.

For the NFT question, please look up my comments on that stunning PVC system when we discussed it specifically. I would prefer not to use this thread for that, nor bump it up more since I have advocated closing this thread down for retirement. Please understand my conviction. It is because in marketing "any publicity is good publicity" and while I have only nice things to say about TG drip irrigation design, I have nothing positive to say about the JP marketing program and shameless commercial exploitation of public concerns and causes chaos for efforts to negotiate truth in labeling guidelines.

So anyone is welcome to blast away, on their own dime ;-), as I won't bump this thread up ever again. (famous last words)


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Thank you for your insight.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I'm sure the sales staff at "Tower Garden" are not happy when you do a google search for "tower garden" and this forum pops up showing how to make it for free. Probably why this old post got going again.

This woman in Florida built 4 of them for about $150. Better than paying $2000 and look at the results!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5ZIshcCnMQ


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Those are nice project_gardner but not in the same league as the "Tower Garden". I am sure "NSA",(the company that Tim Blank sold the rights to distribute the home version of the TG) has no care or clue about these posts.
I would no more compare a Mustang to a Ferrari then I would a "Rain Tower" to a "Tower Garden" (I have built build them both). PVC vs. Opaque Ploycarbonate (O-PC) is a no brainer, plus the fact that PVC fencing is the most toxic form of PVC, it has been UV stabilized to the max . The environmental impact and health concerns of UV stabilizers for PVC can be problematic because of the heavy metal content. Opaque PC has none of these issues.

project_gardener, you posted: "ScottBerry 9 just registered today to promote a product that can be made for free and to make you pay for it."

I'm just trying to get YOU and others like you not to further promote the use PVC because it's killing people and destroying the environment.
There are alternatives for most uses of PVC. Some cost more at the counter, but if you add in the health and environmental costs of producing/recycling PVC, it becomes by far the most expensive choice. Prices of alternatives will come down as demand increases. So again to answer the OP, is it worth $500? Yes Sir it is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alternatives to PVC

This post was edited by ScottBerry on Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 19:10


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

"the fact that PVC fencing is the most toxic form of PVC"

Call the manufacture. 1-800-336-2383

Press 3 for the tech dept. Ask if it's safe for growing plants. Really nice guy there. Stop spreading bad info!

This is PVC 4 LDPA - Low
-density polythylene �" not known to leach toxic
chemicals

Scare tactic of a failing product that needs a gimmic to continue.

The "Garden Tower" garden pumps are manufactured in China, full of lead and toxic chemicals . No regulation there but you like it?

I have nothing to sell but explain why you push it.

This post was edited by project_gardener on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 19:38


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Enough already!

I'm new to this forum and this is turning into a fight among kindergartners. Geesh!

The market is big enough for everyone. After six months of serious consideration, I happened to recently purchase a Tower Garden (NO...I'm not a rep!). Yes, it's expensive (which is why I had to think about it for so long), but, it's up and running in no time.

Not everyone has the time, inclination or interest to build your system, which looks great by the way, project gardener. My hubby works long hours and it took him 3 years to paint our house! What do you think the chances are that it would get built? And, if I paid someone to do it, the cost would probably be similar (factoring in supplies, etc.).

Now...if we love it and want another, I'm guessing hubby's interest level will be high enough to try and build your system next time. But - for now - this is the easiest, fastest and most expedient system for testing the hydroponic waters FOR US.

I don't care if the person who sold me the system made money. Home Depot and my local hydroponic stores are also resellers and make money. The biggest key is the "done for you" solution vs diy and, therein, lies the biggest cost savings. But, if it was never going to get done, I was glad to have an out-of-the-box alternative from which to choose.

Sharing info is great. I've learned a lot in this thread. But please be respectful. Lots more eyes read these than ever post here.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Polyethylene (PE) is not Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Thank you for finding an alternative project_gardener, PE is actually listed (in my link 2 posts up) as an alternative to PVC.
I am working on finding a new pump not made from PVC, but this is low priority because it never sees the sun and that is the real issue when it comes to leaching.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I just had to add my two cents.
http://vault-co.blogspot.com/2008/04/hdpe-only-safe-plastic-for-drinking.html

Also I have a prototype automated hydroponic product that use just 0.15 Kwh per MONTH to provide 55 plants in the same space that a Towergarden uses. Plus it has 5 days battery backed 'no power' operation. Plus it can run 100% on a 5W, 12V solar panel. Plus it is far more stable for the outdoors. PLUS it is smart with multiple sensors, digital display, pushbutton controls/menu, and data logging for up to 8 months for school projects or plant parameter optimization and higher yields. HDPE all the way!
Yes, I have used a Tower garden and it can't compare.
I can supply the controller and sensors for those who want to DIY.

Here is a link that might be useful: Indoor Minifarms


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

Dont see why you`d need food grade plastic as the plants shouldnt be in contact with anything except for air and mist.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I just purchased a TowerGarden used off of craigslist for 200 bucks including the cage, dolly, 1 gallon ea of nutrient, ph kit etc...

I've been a hydro hobbiest for decades and yes, I do believe the tower is worth 500 bucks.

Sure it would be better if it was 1/2 that but this is a small market. You just don't have the economies of scale at play here. It is well designed, proven to work, built incredibly well and it is built in the USA. This comes at a price.
While I'm no fan of juice plus who sells it, I do applaud them and future gardens for building it in the US and plan on purchasing another one soon.

As far as the DIY guys are concerned, I think they're all awsome and there is nothing like building it yourself. Anyone that promotes our hobby and gets more people into it makes a contribution to all of us.


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RE: Is a Tower Garden really worth $500?

I started to look into these. I saw one that was sold on Ebay for $465 used. What was funny is the reason the seller was selling it.

"Unit is extremely clean ... Used for about 3 hours and my fiancé was done with it... Guess she thought veggies were going to grow miraculously overnight !!!!! ... I'm am tired of looking at it to be honest."

There is one in the May 2014 issue of Better Homes And Gardens. The link in the Magazine goes to the person's selling page for these things. Does everyone that buys these become a seller?

I watched some videos of them on youtube and all those people are sellers.

After reading this thread I would agree that the sellers are posting in this thread. Here's a quote from under a seller's video...

"They are made in the US and do NOT contain cheap Chinese plastics, styrofoam, or rain gutters. Also, they are molded to fit together like legos and therefore use no toxic glues."

Sounds like a few of you.

Anyway, I think I'll start with a simple deep water culture tub to see if I like it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ebay ad - funny!


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