Watching Our Garden Grow

Tower Garden

One of our goals for the Fit Family Challenge was to start a garden. This was a lofty goal considering I do not have a green thumb. I have a tendency to kill plants, certainly not on purpose. Maybe I sometimes forget to water them. Of course when I notice they are wilting, I give them a nice drink of water, sometimes too much water, trying to bring them back to life. At this point, I do not have any plants in my house.

Two years ago, we planted some tomato, cucumber and pepper plants in a flowerbed on the side of our house. We didn’t really have a plan. We simply put the seeds in the ground and watered them faithfully. We did get a crop of tomatoes and cucumbers that were delicious. However, we had planted them to close together and the plants grew over each other and basically choked the peppers. We ended up with a tangled mess of vines that overtook the flower bed and covered the gas meter, making it almost impossible for the gas company to get a reading. So last year we took a break from gardening.

This year, I was determined to grow my own vegetables and have the whole family involved in the process. I had a feeling that if Tyler and Moly helped grow vegetables, they would also eat them. More on that later. My one requirement for the garden was that it be done right. We needed to put thought into where we would put it in the yard and how we would lay it out. I was thinking that we would build raised boxes. Then my friend, Heather, gave me another option that changed everything.

She introduced me to the Tower Garden by Juice Plus. This thing is so cool. It is a vertical, aeroponic growing system that allows you to grow up to 16 vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers in less than three square feet. You grow your plants with only water and nutrients rather than dirt. After doing our research, we decided to give the Tower Garden a try and we haven’t regretted our decision.

We set our Tower Garden up on our patio in the middle of May. We started half of our plants – lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from seedlings. I was so careful with these seedlings. I even brought them in the house when there was a chance of rain. I truly wanted them to survive and flourish. I think I may have even talked to them, telling them they were doing a great job. We bought parsley, celery, peppers, squash, and zucchini plants to fill in some of the other spaces on the tower. Then we added a Marigold plant to keep the bugs away and Tyler brought home a lima bean plant that he had been growing from seeds at school to finish off the tower. The kids helped fill the tub with water and Todd set up the self-watering timer to pump 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.

Now that it has been almost a month, we have a routine going. Molly checks the water levels and Tyler is in charge of checking the PH balance. I love that he is putting his science skills to work in the summer. Every couple of days, I turn the tower so a different side gets the advantage of heavy sunlight. In this 90 degree heat, we have been spritzing the plants, which led to a great hose fight between me and Molly on Saturday afternoon (I can’t remember the last time I laughed like that). We also froze some water bottles and added them into the tub of the tower to help cool the water down. I am going for success here and am trying to let go of my self-imposed “plant killer” title.

We were so happy when our seedlings started to sprout less than a week after we planted them. I may have even clapped my hands. I have caught each one of us peeking out the window to see how the plants have grown overnight and tiptoeing to the patio to see if there are any new buds. I have to admit that it is amazing to watch these plants grow and start budding. So far we have discovered some small green tomatoes, some small cucumbers and a perfect green pepper. By far, the lettuce has grown the fastest. In fact, I harvested some Saturday evening and added it to our salads, which everyone ate! Maybe there is something to the “if you grow it, they will eat it.”

I am not ready to say that I have a green thumb, quite yet. But, I am just about ready to stop adding lettuce to my grocery list!

Jennifer Howe and her husband Todd, and children Tyler, 9 and daughter Molly, 6, are participating as one of our 2016 Fit Family Challenge spotlight families. Learn more about their healthy family journey here, and follow along with Jennifer as she updates us this Spring and Summer in the Fit Family Challenge Blog.

Want your family to get active towards a healthier lifestyle? Register now for the Fit Family Challenge.