Joy Bird grew an 8-foot-tall garden of tomatoes, strawberries, okra, squash, eggplant, celery, greens, zinnias and herbs in her Salem back yard without any dirt.
What she uses is a Tower Garden, a patented system that uses water and nutrients. That might sound like vertical hydroponic growing, but it is classified as an “aeroponic growing system” like the National Aeronautics Space Administration uses.
“It’s been so much fun,” said Joy, who with her husband Tom was pleased with their first and now, second, season. She showed off the Tower Garden at a September meeting of the Salem Garden Club at the couple’s Salem home.
Some of the advantages of using a Tower Garden are fewer bugs, using less water than growing in soil, and being able to start plants earlier without needing to wait for the dirt to warm up.
The tower’s tank holds 20 gallons of water. When the Birds went on vacation, they arranged for a “tower sitter” to keep the system filled.
Although towers can be used for indoor growing, the Birds are happy to grow their crops outdoors. At the end of the season, usually in October, they take apart the tower, clean it with citric acid and store it until setting the tower up again in April.