Planning Your Plants
As with anything you want to go well, the first steps are education and planning. To be honest, you can wing it, but you might end up with less than your desired results. Here's what you want to consider:
- What plants do you want to grow?
If you are making an edible garden you'll want a good mix of things you will actually want to eat in reasonable quantity. A good plan is to think of what you'd put in a salad. Lettuce, a couple sizes of tomatoes, bell pepers, spinach and basil are all good options. Have some openings left in your tower? Herbs are great. They are relatively small and you can use them for all kinds of cooking applications. For this I like parsley, chives, rosemary, mint, and thyme. Get creative, but it's a good idea to look up additional resources before planting the seeds to see if they will do well in hydroponics. I strongly recommend agains root plants when using rockwool. So, no carrots, beats, etcetera.
- How many of each?
Sure you could do 10 tomatoes on a single tower, but trust me, it's a mess. The roots will clog the internals and most of your tomatoes will just rot under the branches. You could grow ten lettuce heads, but unless you eat salad three times a day you'll just end up throwing away most of your yield.
- How long does it take them to reach maturity? When should I start the plants?
Tomatoes will take a month or two to mature, depending on the kind you choose. They will grow all season and unless the plant dies early, which can happen, a couple tomato plants should do. Leafy greens, like lettuce, should be planted in stages. Start a new head of lettuce or two every two weeks and adjust frequency as needed. Search the web for a planting schedule of when to start your seeds indoor for the season based on your area.
- How will they be arranged?
Picture your tower with you plants at their matured sizes. Do an online search if you arent sure. Is the tower falling over to one side because of uneven weight? Are the tomato beanches blocking your ability to pull lettuce leaves off of the plant? Some of this is trial and error, and small plants can usually be rearranged.
The internet is your friend, but there's no replacement for experience. Don't be discouraged if things don't start well. And if there is something I missed, shoot me a message. Right now I'm just getting started with this page, so I expect the questions will come in at a rate I can handle.