Once in my late twenties I had a garden. I was a bit skeptical of the HUGE produce it grew. The sunflowers became taller than the house and zucchini bigger than my head. To this day, I wonder what was in that soil in the backyard of that rental home. But the real adventure has been gardening with kids. And, how far we have come with that gardening fun!
Our Family Gardening Story
A few years later, after having children, gardening made its way back into my life. My neighborhood ended up with some empty land and dedicated it to a community garden. We brought our very young daughter out and helped build the garden to enjoy gardening with kids. It was the perfect garden plot, located just steps from our condo. The soil was excellent. Never did I have issue with weeds. Our daughter learned from the experience. Many fresh veggies were eaten right out of the plot.
As a bonus, the garden had a compost section. Our clean food waste went here and eventually became nutrients for our community garden. I’ve never been very crafty, or really even thought of myself as having a green thumb, but I do enjoy gardening.
Then we outgrew our condo and upgraded to a home down valley. I signed up for a garden plot in our new neighborhood to again enjoy gardening with kids. Being in an area a few degrees warmer, I had high hopes. Those hopes were dashed quite quickly. Though the area in general was warmer, the land where the garden is located is next to the river and open space. They fenced out the deer, but the Voles just dug right under fencing. The plot we were assigned was riddled with weeds. I spent hours digging up weeds before planting the first spring. But I just couldn’t keep up with them. We finally gave up the year that I started this blog.
Container Gardening in the Garden Tower
This Mother’s Day, I chose my own gift. The gift of a Garden Tower 2. My mom had shared the concept with me a few years earlier. The desire to get back into gardening sparked the memory. It is a really unique concept, a large garden container that can grow 50 plants! It also contains a compost tube in the middle. Most importantly, it was advertised as having minimal upkeep and no weeding required. A few clicks later my Garden Tower was on its way. Another step on my journey to gardening with kids.
I didn’t realize before ordering it all of the things that would need to be considered to make it a success. I planted it the first week of June, after a Memorial Day hard freeze. But I spent a fair amount of time locating proper soil. And then I scared a coworker with my worm delivery. Now we are about six weeks in and I think can officially call it a success.
What’s Needed to Make the Garden Tower a Success
Soil always makes the garden
The success of any garden will be primarily determined by the dirt. Soil is always the most important component for any garden, and especially so with the Garden Tower. The Garden Tower requires potting soil, not top soil. The manufacturer recommends asking your local nursery for prices on their “professional growers mix.” This type of potting soil is light, fluffy and low in fertilizer content. This was the most challenging ingredient for me to find in our small town. After visiting our two local established nurseries, as well as a box box store, I stumbled upon a new nursery that carried what I was looking for.
Worms make the compost
I’ve always known that worms were important for a garden. But I learned a bit more about worms for this gardening project. Red wrigglers go in the compost tube. You then feed them with a mixture of greens (fruits & veggies) and browns (dried grass, brown paper, etc.). So, there are limitations as to what you can put in the compost bin. It is a different kind of composting than the big bins at gardens that heat up and break down the compost. The Garden Tower relies on the worms to eat the food and make compost tea which comes out in a drawer on the bottom of the tower.
The kids enjoyed putting the worms in the tube. But a few days later I caught them digging up earth worms and preparing to put those in the tube. That wouldn’t have worked. So it ended up being a teachable moment. They got to put a couple of earth worms in the soil and were happy with that.
Was the Garden Tower Successful?
I have a fair amount of tomatoes for the first time ever in my Colorado High Country gardening experience. I’ve very much enjoyed them on my avocado toast with Tajin. Those were put into the tower as seedlings and have been delicious. The Basil thrived. Strawberries did fairly well. The Squash and Zucchini are still a work in progress. Yet to be determined. The Nasturtium went crazy and are beautiful. All in all I’d deem it a success. And, I’d also say it is a great way to experience gardening with kids.