Meet the Whartons: Taking a Backyard Garden to New Heights

Posted by Rikki Lueck on April 28, 2015

The future belongs to the early adopters.

Almost all of our customers are early adopters. Kate and Brian are no different.

These are people who are actively looking for progress in the world, and who aren’t afraid to try it out they see a product's potential.

Much of our success is due to these people, who are not only proactive citizens, but are incredibly interesting people.

Our friends Kate and Brian Wharton are a great example of this.

Brian and Kate Wharton

ZipGrow towers vs. Soil Gardening

zipgrow vs soilWe recently asked Brian and Kate to chat with us about their ZipGrow tower experiences.

As you'll see in the video below, the Whartons have a really unique and fun backyard gardening setup. They have what some might call a "hybrid garden," or a mix of various growing styles including vertical gardening towers, soil beds and raised beds called "VegTrug" beds.

The following is a personal account from Kate and Brian about their experiences with each system, what kind of production they got and other anecdotes.

Here is what they had to say about their experiences with different growing systems...

 

Gardening in Tight Spaces

Brian and Kate are located in a southern California beach environment, and have a pretty small backyard. For folks like this, using space wisely is a big deal!

According to Brian, "Being able to vertically grow in 1 sq. ft., what used to take 3 – 5 sq. ft,. is a huge deal for us."

The Whartons found that the difference in yield between ZipGrows and soil was significant.

The results varied not only in size, but in the growth rate as well.

Here's what Brian said about the garden:

"Our experimenting this year between the towers and dirt farming, either straight in the ground or in a raised vegie-trug type container was pretty dramatic... The vegetables seemed to flourish and we would start to see fruit weeks (sometimes months) before the plants in the ground. The fruit from the towers would be significantly bigger. The poha in the ground would bear fruit but it wasn’t even worth picking, but our towers were very bountiful. Our tomatoes and peppers that grew in the towers were twice as large as what was grown in ground. Our Ghost Chilies are still going off! I figure they will be going crazy until almost Christmas. I have never seen something as crazy as this! When all is said and done, I will have produced gallons of hot sauce, and even more hot pepper jelly and relish."

 

Chili plants in zipgrow towers Chili plants in ZipGrow towers.

 

Chili plants in vegie- trug trays Chili plants in VegTrug trays.

 

Chilis grown in ZipGrow towers Here is a chili harvest from the Wharton's backyard garden. Guess which pile of peppers was grown in towers?

Brian and Kate are relishing the amount and quality of produce they've been harvesting from their humble little backyard.

How exciting is that?

We love seeing this couple enjoying their garden so much.

Were there any challenges with your garden?

The primary struggle that the Whartons had with their ZipGrows was temperature control on their patio in the Californian summer.

Although this summer was mild for them, Brian and Kate mentioned a few heat waves of over 90ºF.

The cold weather crops that the Whartons planted didn't love the heat as much as the chilis or poha!

Because of the heat, the Whartons had luck with a completely different set of crops that we do in our cool northern climate, which is to be expected.

"We found that dandelions and lettuce worked well at the beginning of the summer but near the end we were struggling with the lettuce getting too hot. What we struggled with in the towers were: basil, collard greens, spinach, kale, and Bok Choy. I think that this is mostly around heat and too much sun. I have a feeling that our winter will be a huge greens production period (kale, spinach, lettuce). Greens just did better in the ground because the ground had a lot of mulch that kept the roots much cooler. And there was less sun reflection hammering the leaves from the mulch."

 

zipgrow towers vs. raise beds Raised bed vs. hydroponics seeded at the same time. (Photo courtesy Brian Wharton)

Growing All Year Long

And the Whartons are going to continue growing!

This month Brian and Kate will be planting some cold-weather crops, and they look forward to improving their yield even more next summer.

"With that said, I have seedlings ready for Bok Choy, collards, spinach, kale, and several varieties of lettuce that will be going into the towers... The beauty is that we have a growing season year around. Next summer, I am going to put up a “screen house” around the towers that have greens on them to protect them from the heat of the sun to see if that fixes it."

We wish them luck, and are excited to see what produce the next season brings to them.

Grow like the Whartons: Get a Farm Wall kit today if you want a productive year-round garden.

 

Learn more about the Whartons

If you want to check out their garden, you can view it here:

 

Topics: Spotlights, ZipGrow

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