There are several ways to extend your growing season when growing in a Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ FLEX outdoors. Consider this your friendly “heads-up”, so you’re ready when that first freeze warning comes and not left panicking about plants not making it through the night. Here are our Grow Your Health Gardening three strategies for managing the cold that will inevitably come…
Strategy #1: Weather Blanket + Water Heater
Okay y’all — you want to get NOW in order to extend your harvests another 4-6 weeks into the growing season this fall. With the pandemic still being an issue, everything is selling out early, so think ahead and get your weather blankets ordered now. Like today.
For those of you who need a little more info before deciding if a weather blanket is what you need or not, read on…
You’ve gone through the effort to plant a crop, the last thing you want to do is see it all come to an abrupt end the first time you get a cold frost at night. Enter the weather blanket. This light weight “blanket” protects your plants from frost. Even our warm season jalapeños lasted well into November last year here in Zone 7B when we covered the Tower Garden with weather blankets.
They’re made of a quality space-age metallic -type light weight material that holds in warmth and deflects the cold. Technically its made of UV-resistant blanket made from metalized HDPE. Think of it as thermal underwear for your plants.
I typically cover my plants early evening before temperatures drop before sunset. The weather blanket is extremely light weight, but even still, if I have larger plants towards the top of the tower that could get their leaves crushed, I’ll add a heavy clay pot to the top of the Tower and drape the Weather Blanket over the pot to take off any pressure on those upper level plants. Works like a charm. In the morning, when temps raise to around 60ºF, I’ll uncover the Towers and set the blankets to the side and replace them at evening if another Freeze Warning occurs. There will come a point where the day time temps are just too cold to grow outside, so bear in mind that these are not a year-round solution — they will simply extend your growing season by several weeks to a month (depending on what your weather patterns are in your growing region.)
The weather blankets are also weighted at the bottom and have grommets on the corners if you need to tie down and secure your crop. (In five growing seasons, I have never had to tie mine down here in Georgia, but if you live in a windy area or have a storm threatening, those grommets could come in handy for sure.) The grommets also enable you to suspend your blanket tied to poles or trees in the summer heat of positioned above the Tower Garden acting as a shade cloth of sorts for extreme heat waves that could damage plants. The weather blanket is in the shape of a circle so it also fits perfectly over a Tower Garden with enough to reach the ground in case any plants spill over into that region.
And remember, you are not limited to using the weather blanket solely on the hydroponic Tower Garden. You can also use these elsewhere in the garden. For example, I used one to protect my large Gardenia Bush from a freeze and it didn’t get any damage one cold winter, because I used the blanket.
My weather blankets come out in early spring and late fall/autumn and are wonderful workhorses in my garden. When not in use I simply roll them up (like you would a sleeping bag) and wrap a bungy cord around it and store it on my shelf in the garage until needed. I’m going on my fourth season with my weather blankets and they’re still going strong. But if you have any additional doubts, Tower Garden offers an easy one-year limited warranty.
If you don’t know your first frost date, I like this one on Dave’s Garden. Begin by entering your zip code and then you will get several reference charts based on weather stations that are near your zip code along with probability percentages of when the freeze or frost will occur based on cumulative data. Here’s an example of the results I get in my growing region…
For those of you in Zone 7 or higher, here’s a friendly countdown of how many days you have left to grow in this region (think cool season crops) before possible frost hits.
hours minutes seconds
Days left in Zone 7 Growing Season
So to sum up, grab your Weather Blanket now. It’s a tool that will allow you to keep growing food on your Tower Garden beyond the date listed above.
One Weather Blanket runs $44 and that includes shipping (tax additional and varies by state). You can purchase here: https://erincastillo.towergarden.com/shop/weather-protection-blanket
And don’t forget about your water temp… Even cool season plants have a threshold with how cold those roots will go and things still grow, so you may want to order a water heater before that first frost date as well. It’s best if you keep your root zone around 65ºF or warmer and as temps drop, a water heater will keep your cool plants happy. This is the one that I use… I got mine off of Amazon for $24 (free ship with Prime).
In my first growing season I used a glass-based aquarium heater and by December, I remember going to check on my plants outside and a snow had come and it had shattered — the glass heater just couldn’t keep up and it made it tricky to clean all that glass out of my reservoir. (If you can believe it, my tomatoes were still fruiting that year until that snow came thanks to the water heater!) I also like this one shown above, because it is designed for up to a 60 gallon system. Even though the Tower Garden has a 25 gallon reservoir, for a few extra dollars I have a waterheater that can handle the rigor that outdoor temps throw my way. Remember, it’s not going to make the water into a sauna — it’s designed to warm temps up to a point. There will be a threshold where your outdoor growing environment temps may exceed what even this water can handle. I typically use it to extend the season another month or two here in Zone 7 and then around the end of November, I pull my Towers inside my garage and attach their Grow Lights. I have a water heater for each of my Tower Gardens that move into our garage as a way to keep water warmer as the garage floor and ambient temp gets colder than the rest of our house. (Another quick tip to keep water temps in the right zone… I keep all my indoor Tower Gardens on a rolling dolly so it’s not sitting directly on a cold concrete floor in the garage.)
Strategy #2: Dolly + Garage + Water Heater
And for those of you who have your sunny patch near your garage, you could also forgo the Weather Blanket and just do a rolling cart base and roll it into your garage before the sun sets and roll it out in the morning when temps are above 60ºF. The one thing to keep in mind with this option are your existing cords that run your pump. They will need to be out of the way so that you do not jar your Tower Garden when rolling it in and out of the garage. Rolling over the cord creating a jaring effect could cause damage to plants that are growing in the system — for a rolling dolly method to work, you need a smooth glide in and out of the garage. The wheels on the Tower Garden custom-fitted base are definitely able to handle the weight of the Tower Garden and move the tower with ease. I also like how on this rolling cart it custom fits the base of the Tower Garden and the wheels can lock the cart in place. These ship for $90 (price of shipping included in price, tax additional).
I’ve also seen some growers use this dolly off of Amazon for $37 which is cheaper, but it doesn’t have the lip and custom fit like the Tower Garden dolly, so bear that in mind when choosing your options. I can not vouch for if this would be tippy or not — just sharing another cheaper option in case others are looking for a cheaper option. Remember, cheaper does not always equate to better. I DO LIKE the ability to move my Tower Garden as needed indoors and I like having it up off the ground — especially cold cement in a garage. Whatever you choose for a dolly, just make sure it has a flat surface. The weight of the water in the reservoir needs a flat surface beneath it to support the weight. Any uneven stressors beneath your reservoir can put pressure on your reservoir and cause it to crack for the weight of the water and plants above so I can’t stress this enough — keep a flat base under the entire reservoir and grow system. Also make sure your wheels on your dolly lock. You don’t want any run-away Tower Gardens rolling down the driveway. 😉
Strategy #3: Bring Tower Garden Inside + Grow Lights + Water Heater
For those of you in colder regions that get snow and don’t want to mess with a Weather Blanket, you may want to find your frost date and prepare to clean your Tower Garden shortly after that date and then move your Tower Garden inside and put a set of lights on it. They are currently selling a lot of lights right now, so order them even if it says it is back ordered and you’ll be next in line for getting them as soon as they come off the production line. I recently had a customer order a set and they were only on backorder for a week. With that said though… order early to ensure availability when you really need it. The Grow Lights work on both the FLEX and HOME systems and come with a built-in timer where you can “set it and forget it” to come on and off automatically (remember, price listed on Grow Light ordering page includes shipping, but not tax).
I like how these lights adjust to move in closer to younger plants and move out further away from plants as they mature. Some folks do have light sensitivity to these bright grow lights, so be sure to consider that when placing your Tower Garden in your home.
So there you have it — three strategies to extend your growing season using the Tower Garden hydroponic / aeroponic growing system. Remember, once you have any of the above tools you can grow, and grow, and grow food! That means food security for you and your family… that means clean eating with no chemicals sprayed on your food to ripen them early or kill pests… and that means the best nutrients for your body because you are picking the plant when it is at it’s peak and it’s going straight to your table to enjoy.
Have a question on how to make the most of your growing season? Leave a comment below and we will help in any way we can… in the meantime, Happy Growing (and make a plan now to order what you need before the rush hits!)