How big should my starter plants be before I transfer them into the Garden Tower?

3 to 6 inches is suggested. Plants can also be started by seed.

What kind of plants can I grow?

The Garden Tower grows a surprising number of vegetable and flower varieties. Here is a partial list of suggestions: VEGETABLES Amaranth (vegetable type), Arugula, Beans( Lima, bush, pole, shell, fava),Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Chicory, Collards, Cucumbers, Dandelion, Eggplant, Endive, Escarole, Gourds, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Mesclun, Mustard Greens, Dwarf Okra, Peas, Peppers, Radicchio, Sorrel, Spinach, Squash,Strawberries, Tomatoes (note: vines such as squash and melons grow nicely from the bottom holes, trailing onto the ground). HERBS Angelica, Anise Hyssop, Basil, Calendula, Catmint, Catnip, Chamomile, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro (Coriander), Dandelion,Dill, Echinacea (Coneflower), Feverfew, Flax, Garlic Chives, Goldenseal Hyssop, Lavender, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Milk Thistle, Mint, Nettle, Oregano, Parsley, Passion Flower, Pleurisy Root, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Burnet, Saltwort, Savory, Shiso, Stevia, Thyme, Valerian, Wormwood FLOWERS Edible Flowers: Calendula, Carthamus, Dianthus, , Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Salvia, Violas Ornamental Flowers Ageratum, Amaranth, Ammi, Aster, Bells of Ireland, Bupleurum, Morning Glory, Nigella, Petunia, Phlox, Polygonum, Poppy, Ptilotus, Rudbeckia, Safflower, Salpiglossis, Sanvitalia, Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Stock, Strawflower, Sweet Peas, Verbena, Yarrow, Zinnia See "News: Gardening Ideas and Recommendations" for additional information on plant selection for Garden Towers.

What do I do when the compost tube is full?

Two to four times per year you will want to empty the compost tube. To remove worm castings, untwist the wing nut at the bottom of the compost tube and remove the plug. Castings will then fall into the receptacle for easy collection. You can add the castings directly back into the Tower, or spread them in other gardens and pots you may have.  The most degraded compost should be near the bottom, it's healthy to return a portion of compost to the tube!

What should I put into the compost tube?

One cup (or more) of worms plus almost all of your vegetable and fruit scraps can go into the compost tube. Certain things will be difficult for the worms to eat and should be avoided. These include avocado pits, corn cobs, etc. The smaller the scraps that you use, the faster the worms will make vermicompost. DO NOT PUT ANY MEAT OR DAIRY PRODUCTS INTO THE COMPOST TUBE. For best performance, we recommend adding "bedding or bulking" materials along with kitchen scraps at a 1:2 ratio (1 part bedding : 2 parts kitchen scraps).  This helps maintain compost air flow and drainage and prevents an excessive rate of decomposition by adjusting the nutrient balance.  Popular bedding materials include torn/shredded cardboard, shredded paper, coconut coir, peat moss, and even handfuls of potting soil.  Is this a system requirement? Nope, but it will aid in worm health and provide for better compost. Try not to "stuff" the compost tube -- you want to avoid compaction beyond what occurs naturally as the worms quickly minimize your kitchen scraps.

Where do I buy Red Wiggler worms?

You can purchase "red wiggler" worms at some nurseries, bait shops, sporting goods stores, and online (see our resource list).  Also, check Craigslist and ask around your community because indoor composting with red worms is very popular!  Nightcrawlers will also aid the system by working the full soil column and creating pathways to the compost. Common earthworms are not recommended, as they will not flourish in the Garden Tower environment.  Each Garden Tower comes with a 15% off coupon for one of our favorite worm farms which provides a high quality product at a very reasonable price: Uncle Jim's composting worms.

How often should I feed the tea to the plants?

Whenever you find "tea" or fertilizer in your container, pour it back onto the soil at the top of the Garden Tower.  You should not be watering the Garden Tower beyond "field capacity" (the point at which it is fully hydrated and water runs out the system) more than twice per week, or the soil and compost aeration will be limited and plant roots may remain too moist.

How many worms should I add to the compost?

At least 1 cup (at least two ounces) of worms should be added at least 1 week after you have a several inches of kitchen scraps in the "compost tube." Composting worms eat organic substances that are already decomposing (not fresh greens).  A single garden tower can easily support a full pound of red wigglers, but it is not necessary to start out with so many worms! See our resource list for sources of worms. You can even buy them as "vermipods" (worm eggs).  We suggest either a) red wigglers, b) red wigglers and night crawlers, or best yet c) a composting worm mix containing a few popular varieties of aggressive composting worms!

Why do I need worms?

Worms are an essential part of the Garden Tower design. Worms break down the kitchen scraps quickly, allowing nutrients to be returned to the Garden Tower. If, however, the gardener prefers to operate the Tower without worms and compost, it will still grow food effectively, provided organic plant food is added seasonally.

How do I make worm tea?

When you pour water on the top of the Garden Tower, a fraction of it will seep through the holes of the compost tube. Any excess water collects nutrients and eventually settles at the bottom, where it drains away from the compost and drips into the container beneath the drain. You don't actually make worm tea, the Garden Tower makes worm tea! To be more technical, when we say "worm tea" in reference to the Garden Tower we're generally referring to "nutrient tea" which is a mixture of both compost drainage and of water leachate which has entrained minerals and nutrients from the entire soil column through regular watering from the top of the tower.  This "nutrient tea" has been analyzed following controlled use of the Garden Tower and is highly potent in nutrients and minerals required for healthy vegetable plant growth and should be returned to the top of the tower!

What is worm tea and what are the benefits?

"Worm tea" is simply water that has steeped in the Garden Tower's worm castings and compost. Worm tea contains many minerals, nutrients, and beneficial microbes essential for healthy soil. Along with worm castings, it acts as a soil conditioner and aids in the creation of colloidal humus. Poured onto foliage, it is also an odorless natural repellent for mites, white flies, aphids, and other pests. What are some example nutrient levels in "nutrient tea" produced by an active Garden Tower? (Laboratory Results)