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DIY - Do it Yourself Garden Tower Vertical Gardening

Category for Garden Tower users to share DIY ideas and projects.  (You can create your own article here)

The new Garden Tower 2 has been getting rave reviews this spring.  In February we changed the plastic formulation to eliminate the possibility of cold-temperature shipping damages from heavy impacts during transport. We've learned that the HDPE plastic formulation we switched to has too much stretch and flex to use directly with casters long-term. Essentially, the softer (but more durable) food-grade HDPE plastic will slowly warp if caster wheels are used directly under the tower's feet without the proper support for more than a day.

 

*CAUTION: Caster wheels cannot be left inserted into the feet of the Garden Tower 2 (beyond temporary use when moving the tower to a new location).*

 

Garden Tower Project recommends stationary objects under the towers, or the use of a platform with casters attached. For full-time caster-wheel use, we recommend a platform or dolly.  Many of these platforms have inboard wheels that reduce the stability of the tower. Please use them with caution.

 

Three supporters offered their solutions below. The first is the easiest and an out of-the-box solution requiring no skills, know how or tools. The second one--which builds on the first--is the most accessible for most folks with some time, tools and minimal DIY skills. The third is more highly engineered and for the experienced DIY’er with the proper skills and tools. A big thanks to our three supporters for their contributions!!!!

 

General suggestions on casters: 

  • Do not use only a spindle caster through the feet (for more than 12 hours). The base must be supported at least in part.
  • The platform needs to be a minimum 29”, inside diameter for (round) drum dollies.
  • The larger the wheel, the easier to negotiate uneven surfaces.
  • Polyolefin wheels will resist getting flat spots, and/or marring surfaces.
  • Treated (or marine grade) or painted plywood will last the longest in all weather conditions.

AGAIN: Many of these platforms have inboard wheels that will reduce the stability of the tower so please use them with caution.

***

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Raymie-Emslander.jpg


#1  This first offering from Raymie Emslander is the easiest and an out of-the-box solution requiring no skills, know-how or tools.


From Raymie Emslander An 85 gallon drum dolly is the right size for the GT2 without a plywood platform. It has small openings on the sides to let the excess water out. The lip is low enough you can still get the drawer open.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#drum-dollies/=wwutff

 

Ours looks red because we gave it another coat of paint.

*****

 

 


#2  Jeanne Warner posted this solution:

    I just ordered a 29" internal diameter, cross deck dolly from McMaster-Carr for $78 that is load rated at 900# and has 4 rotating polypropylene casters. It will cost about $90 dollars with shipping, delivered in two days. Once I add a plywood circle over the cross, this is the perfect solution to having a stable deck for your GT2. You should still be able to move it when you want to. According to my brother, a mechanical engineer, the polypropylene casters will assist in distributing the load so that the weight of the properly watered and growing GT2 will not overly burden your flooring if you are growing indoors

 

  My dolly is 29" and you can see by the photo that it is just big enough. I recommend flipping the dolly over onto the plywood and tracing around the inside of the rim so that your cut matches whatever imperfections exist in the used dolly. Also, I suggest using treated/marine grade plywood, so that it weathers well.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jeanne-Warner.jpg

  The treated plywood will be absolutely fine for a LONG, long time—years and years—especially if it is painted with something like Rustoleum. The main danger point is not the top, however, it is the cut edges. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am solving this by running caulk around the edge to seal it to the dolly ring. This will prevent water from getting to the edges, where it wicks in and wreaks havoc. The additional issue (with treated plywood) is that it needs to be dry when any freezing takes place, as that will expand the layers and then degrade the lamination.     

   I would strongly recommend that anyone who is using this set up outside—in other words, most everyone—paint the treated plywood deck with a weather resistant paint and not caulk around the rim like I am. Because I am using it indoors, my main goal was to prevent overflows from hitting the floor of my mud room. When working outside, I should think the main point of the plywood would be to support the GT2 and that drainage around the edge would be optimal to prevent deterioration of the plywood

http://www.mcmaster.com/#drum-carts/=wft83e

 

*****

#3 Duane Benson sent us this great DIY option to us:

My landlord requires any planters be movable. So I began planning on how to put wheels on my GT2 before it ever arrived. Using a barrel dolly never even occurred to me. So I proceeded to do my own dolly concept. A barrel dolly would have been easier, but would not have had the size, quality or locking ability of the wheels I have.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Duane-Benson-1.jpg

Looking at the feet, I felt it was designed to rest the entire foot on a solid surface, not just a caster carrying the weight. Even though on the website I saw a suggestion a caster cold be inserted, I decided a rigid dolly with platforms to support the entire foot of the tower would be the solution I was after and what it really needed. The tower would be bolted to the dolly. I wanted a large wheel diameter so I could move the tower from the back patio after the growing season, to the garage for the winter without catching on cement seams and handling a transition from grass to cement.

 

I ordered three high-quality, fully-locking 5 inch casters made of polyolefin, so they won’t develop a flat spot sitting in one place long term like rubber and other plastics and soft casters do. Fully locking makes the GT2 very secure when parked and braked. The fully-locking caster locks both the wheel, and swivel. I got the casters from http://www.castercity.com They cost me $47.50 shipped.

 

I already had a scrap piece of unistrut. It was just enough. If you don't know what this stuff is, here is a link to it on Home Depots website. $16.50
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Superstrut-10-ft-14-Ga…/202714280

 

The fasteners were a little pricy ($37 from Home Depot) but after about 40 minutes with the Sawzall, I had a working rigid dolly with my GT2 securely mounted.

 

So my total cost of the dolly would be right around $100 if I had to buy the parts I didn't already own. I'm into it about $84.b2ap3_thumbnail_Duane-Benson-2.jpg

 

If you buy a barrel dolly for $65 (heaven forbid what shipping would cost) and have to buy a sheet of pressure treated 3/4" plywood, your going to be into it at least that much, or even a little more. Finding free or recycled dollies or plywood is the key to cutting cost. I am very happy with the result.

 

As an added benefit, I think I am going to go ahead and plant my peppers and other plants that can freeze since I can easily roll it in and out of the garage each morning/evening.

 

I am keeping my eyes open for a scrap piece of plastic lumber I can replace the plywood platforms with. The plastic lumber is made from recycled pop bottles and never rots. Those can reasonably be replaced with a loaded tower at a future date.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Duane-Benson-3.jpg

Read More Here

 

 

 

 

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So it's not much, and I apologize for the subpar photos, but the concept is simple, cheap, and functional and I thought I would share it! 


We have an uninsulated breezeway between the garage and our 1940's house (Indiana) that happens to have south-facing windows, so we put it to use and moved our two garden towers inside for the winter.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05323.jpg

We started a crop of broccoli, spinach, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, radishes and carrots in the late fall while the towers were outside.  Although the lack of insulation, very cold temps, and limited light slowed things way down, we were still able to produce lettuces, broccoli, and radishes all winter long and the best part is everything will be ready for a full spring harvest in March (if we don't eat it all before then).  The broccoli is the most tender and sweet I've ever tasted. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05314.jpg

 

The mylar foil is simply hung behind the towers to catch the window light and reflect it back to the rearward plants.  It's doesn't get much easier or cheaper than this.  These are cheap-o emergency blankets from a big box store that were two for $2 over Christmas (thank you M*****s and the mountain of ad inserts you send me).  I turned the foil blankets into curtains in about 10 minutes with some duck tape.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05313.jpg

The curtain rod was a scavenged piece of electrical conduit (a few bucks new) from an old rooftop TV antenna!

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05324.jpg

Here's what it looks like from inside the breezeway.  Notice the mylar foil is gold on one side and chrome on the other; I oriented the chrome or mirror finish towards the towers.  In April these Garden Towers get to go back outside!

 

I will get a morning photo with good direct sun very soon!

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"About once per week a suggestion or request for wheeled Garden Towers is heard from a customer or fan; the Garden Tower Project does not offer the option because Garden Towers are large and heavy animals and in the wrong location a free-wheeling tower could be quite dangerous."


The following instructions can, at your own risk, be used to effectively make the Garden Tower more mobile. Customers also use large planter dollies and drum dollies for the same purpose.  None of these approaches should be used on soft, rough, or inclined surfaces.

 

Project Notes:

- Try to find casters made out of nylon plastic as opposed to metal.  This will ensure you don't have to worry about rust degrading the structural integrity of the caster.

- It is extremely important to make sure the drill bit you use creates a hole that is the same size as the castor shank, or even slightly larger.  (If the hole is smaller than the shank, you risk splitting the wood when attaching the caster.)

- Use Gorilla Glue or a a similar formulation. This glue is incredible stuff, is waterproof, and will last many many years. Using more glue than the recommended 10 drops, may result in a big mess, so caution is necessary.

 

Method:

  1. Purchase three heavy duty casters rated at 100lbs or greater
  2. While in the hardware store, have the caster "shank" Sized by an employee
  3. Purchase a drill bit that is the next size up (1/64" - 1/32") from the castor shank diameter
  4. Purchase a very small squeeze bottle of "gorilla glue" (highly recommended)
  5. Place a mark in the center of each leg, and drill as straight as possible into each leg at least one eighth inch deeper than the total Length of the castor shank   b2ap3_thumbnail_1.jpg
  6. Pour enough water to fill each hole in the legs. After the third hole is filled with water wait five seconds. Now turn your Garden Tower (or legs) right side up to drain all of the water out b2ap3_thumbnail_3.jpg   
  7. Add about exactly 10 drops of gorilla glue into each hole, on each leg   b2ap3_thumbnail_4.jpg
  8. Using a mallet (or hammer and a small wooden block) Push or gently tap each caster into its respective hole until it is completely seated (in as far as possible)b2ap3_thumbnail_5.jpg
  9. Using duct tape, ripped into thinner strips if necessary, secure each caster onto each leg. (This is necessary, because the glue expands several times over while drying and has the potential to force the caster out of the hole.) If you sized your drill bit properly (it was not difficult to get your caster securely embedded in the hole) then simply tipping your Garden Tower right side up will ensure that the casters are not pushed out by the foaming glue.   b2ap3_thumbnail_6.jpg
  10. After about three hours wait, any excess glue that has seeped out of the hole can be easily removed with a sharp utility knife   b2ap3_thumbnail_7.jpg

Again, for HARD and LEVEL surfaces only.  This procedure is not an official recommendation of the Garden Tower Project.

 

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