We know that here in the Portland area going green, organic and sustainable is something that is not just a trend, but a part of many of our lives. Having access to fresh vegetables that you know is truly organic, safe and healthy is something that many of our restaurants and residents find to be a normal part of life. But having the space, time and infrastructure to handle growing your own organic vegetable garden can be challenging for many.
But recently we attended one of the many local festivals here in the Portland area and came across something that we found to be truly amazing. We found the coolest Portland garden that needs no soil, no land and nearly zero maintenance. We thought is was something our Portland readers would also think was pretty cool, so we are just going to say… You’ve got to see this!!
We asked the owners if we could visit their home to check out their full garden here in Portland. Not only did they say yes, they gave us an inside look at their garden, their methods and the tips they use to make it the most amazing Portland garden you could ever want! Here’s the scoop.
The Coolest Portland Garden You’ll Ever See
So first of all, let’s cover what the heck this thing is. Apparently this vertical tower is called a “Tower Garden“. It is comprised of multiple plastic cylinders that stack and snap together atop a main green base that serves as the garden reservoir. An outer ring can be added around the main cylinders to create added support for growing vegetables and plants without soil, ensuring that get the optimum extension of growth. Watch this, then read on…
*Note – the owner mentioned that they have already harvested all of the initial crop of peas and other early and faster growing veggies from their garden. More peas and lettuce will continue to produce throughout the Portland growing season, while other vegetables such as the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers will soon be putting off food as well.
Now that the simple facts are covered on this cool Portland garden, here are some of the details the owner provided that makes this garden well beyond what your father had.
How to plant:
One of the coolest things we learned about growing vegetables with this Tower Garden in Portland was that you can create “starts” for your garden as early as February. You do this indoors and use seeds and special provided rockwool and a special starter kit container (which is included). You simply keep the starts moist and near a window for sunlight and allow them to get a solid start so that they are ready to roll when it’s time to get them outside.
In the Portland area you would want to put the starts into the 20 individual Tower Garden pods (each with it’s own start) at around March or early April, when you are confident there won’t be another freeze and temps will remain above 45 degrees or higher. But check this out – they said that you can add a fish tank heater to your Tower Garden and plant your pods even earlier and grow even later in the year here in Portland since the water temperature will be warmer and protect the plants from the cold.
Growing your food:
All of the required nutrients are provided to the garden via an all natural liquid nutrient blend that contains everything the plants need to thrive without any soil whatsoever. The special nutrient solution is simply added to the water base at the bottom of the Tower Garden, which is a 20 gallon water reservoir that you simply need to refill as needed. This makes your Portland vegetable garden virtually maintenance free and something very appealing to us.
There is a low watt submersible pump that sets in the bottom of the base reservoir and distributes the nutrient transfused water to the top of the tower, allowing the water to flow to the bottom as it drips across the roots of each plant through the center of the tower. The pump is automatically controlled by an included timer that enables you to set the watering variance from 15 minute intervals and longer. Depending on the weather and temperature and the number of plants you have in the garden you would set the automated watering appropriately. For example, if it is hot you want it to automatically run in shorter time intervals, while when temperatures are lower it requires less water and can be set for longer periods between automated garden watering. A big advantage for Portland gardeners that have to deal with our very unpredictable weather.
Types of Plants you can grow:
We were told that the Tower Garden can grow virtually any vegetables that do not grow as a root in the ground, such as carrots and potatoes. This specific garden had Kale, multiple species of lettuce, three different kinds of tomatoes and English cucumbers. They were also growing three varieties of squash, beautiful snap peas and even some flowers to add some color. The owner suggested planting some marigolds to help ward off insects that tend to be attracted to vegetable gardens.
The owner also mentioned that they have grown a host of other veggies such as various melons, spinach and bell peppers to name a few. They have not yet found anything that did not do extremely well using the system.
Harvesting your food:
Vegetables such as lettuce and snap peas can be harvested daily as needed throughout the growing season, while some other plants such as the cucumbers and squash varieties will require a little longer growing period, yet can still be harvested at different times as you wish to eat them.
We also found this cool animation about these Tower Gardens that really explains how it operates in great detail.
More cool stuff about this Portland tower garden:
- Produces 30% more crop than traditional soil based gardening.
- Plants grow up to 3 times faster than other gardening methods.
- The unique aeroponic growing system uses 98% less water than typical ground based gardens.
- The system can be placed on a wheeled platform and moved around your deck or patio easily.
- The system has been proven to grow a more vibrant, tastier, better smelling and more nutritious product.
- The best part is that it requires virtually no maintenance, no weeding, no bending or getting dirty. (we liked that part)
Now, if you are anything like us in that your green thumb is actually blue and you love fresh, organic and sustainable food but don’t have the time, space or ability to build and manage a soil garden, this is an incredible Portland garden solution. We loved it and thought you would to!
What do you think?