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A Dirty Update – My Garden Tower 2 Got Worms & Plants!

Hey there Rural Sprout Readers; with spring in full swing, I thought it would be a great time to give you an update on my Garden Tower 2 project.

If you missed my first update where I talk about what the Garden Tower 2 is and my unboxing and setting up experience, take a look here.

Rooftop vs. Balcony

It’s been quietly hanging out in the corner of my den as I waited for the temperatures to rise and the snow to stop. (Of course, now that I’ve said that out loud, it will snow again.) I’ve been watching my sunlight on the balcony and the rooftop, trying to decide where would be the best place to set my tower up.

My Garden Tower 2 set up on my roof top garden.
Filled with soil and ready to be planted.

I decided it would get the most sun out here with my rooftop garden. Plus, it will get the added benefit of being watered whenever it rains.

Choosing a Potting Mix

The folks over at the Garden Tower Project page recommend using a “fluffy” growing mix, so I chose to go with Lambert Organic All-Purpose Growing Mix. It’s definitely fluffy. They say the tower will hold between 6-8 cubic feet of growing medium.

I managed to get just under six cubic feet in my tower. The only thing I can think of that would cause such a discrepancy is the growing mix I chose has a high peat moss content, so it’s incredibly fluffy and light. If you were using a much heavier mix, you would probably need that extra two cubic feet.

Using my hands to push the soil down into the tower.
Because my soil mix was so light, I had to help it along.

I followed their directions and alternated between pouring about two cubic feet of soil and then adding 3 gallons of water to help the soil settle down well into the tower. I ended up using my hands to reach up inside the pockets and help move the soil down from the rings above.

All in all, filling the tower with soil was pretty easy.

But because it’s me I still managed to spill quite a bit of potting soil.

My only complaint was the inner compost tower felt a little unstable as I was filling the tower. But the soil held it in place as I filled it. And it’s certainly not going anywhere now; it’s nestled in the middle of six cubic feet of growing medium.  

Photo of the cap of the compost tube, off-center.
The compost tube shifted a bit as I was filling it. No big deal.

And Then It Rained…A Lot

Because I chose a potting mix with a lot of peat moss in it, I knew it would take quite a bit of water for all of the soil in the tower to become saturated.

Lucky for me, mother nature came along and helped out with 48 hours of steady rain. Once the rain let up, I was ready to get some spring plants in.

I have been itching to put some plants in my tower.

I sat down a few weeks earlier and planned out what I was going to plant.

Put a Plant In It

I’ve been using the Garden Journal, Planner and Logbook to map out my garden and keep track of planting dates.

I’ve got a pretty decent mix of cool weather spring plants and summer plants planned. Once the heat kicks in this summer, I’ll pull the lettuces and replace them with more marigolds. Then I’ll harvest the flowers from the marigolds to make wine and put lettuces in again for the fall’s cooler weather.

My lettuces look so good, all tucked in.

But for now, I’ve planted several types of cut-and-come-again lettuce, two varieties of kale, spinach, and some Chinese sprouted broccoli. Once we get past that all-important last frost date, I’ll be planting even more.

Red Bor Kale seedlings and Dazzling Blue seeds.

I was amazed at how easy it was to poke the seedlings into the dirt-filled tower. I just wiggled a bit of a hole in the dirt and gently pushed each transplant in on a slight diagonal.

Watering and Fertilizer

The Garden Tower Project page recommends watering the plants directly at the individual pockets. And if you’re planting seeds, spraying them with a spray bottle, so you don’t disturb them until they’ve germinated.

It’s best to spray seeds so they don’t shift around.

I decided to water my new transplants and seeds with a bit of fish emulsion added to the water. Since the vermicompost tower isn’t ‘functional’ yet, and my soil mix doesn’t have any added fertilizer, I figured my plants could use the boost.


Hello in there!

Once everything was planted, it was time to get my compost tower going.

It’s recommended that you fill the tube with at least 6-10″ full of kitchen scraps and then wait a week before adding your worms. This will give the scraps a chance to begin breaking down.

I added some ripped-up cardboard, toilet paper tubes, and some onion tops, carrot peels and celery tops I had from making soup.

Eat your vegetables, little worms.

This morning I added my worms – 18 nightcrawlers and 30 red wigglers. I don’t know that they were too thrilled about being dumped down a shoot in the dark, but they had a soft, squishy landing.

Ugh, I’m not a fan of worms, but if they make my garden grow I guess they’re okay.

I checked on them again before sundown, and everyone had already tunneled down under all the scraps, so I think they’re pretty happy.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how things are going.

I’m seriously impressed with how solid this thing is. I was a little nervous about it being so tall with all of the soil. I was a tad concerned it would be top-heavy and the possibility of it tipping over, but it’s incredibly sturdy. You can tell it’s not going anywhere, and yet the base still turns easily to plant and water.

Everything about this has been easy so far. And I have to say it’s a lot of fun too. I like going out and turning the tower on its base and checking out my transplants.

Even my neighbor thought it was cool.

When I was filling the tower with dirt, she stuck her head out her kitchen window to ask about it.

I can’t wait to see this fill in a bit.

If you’re thinking about getting one, you should give it a try. I’m looking around at my rooftop garden and all the space my containers take up, and then I have this great tower that takes up much less space and holds almost as many plants.


Stay tuned for my next update as I try out the Garden Tower 2.

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,