Adjusting Mature ZipGrow Towers for Optimum Growth
Why the Extra Set of Holes in My ZipGrow?
In a greenhouse setting like ours and many other of our Upstart Farmers, ZipGrow towers hang from a horizontal support. The hanger slings over the support and attaches to the tower on either side securely supported yet completely adjustable for when your crops mature.
You may have noticed that there are two sets of holes in the top of the ZipGrow tower, but we only send you one hanging hook. What is the extra set for?
The First Set of Holes: Seedlings to Near Maturity
The first set- the holes nearest to the back of the tower- is for newly planted ZipGrows. As the crops you've planted in your ZipGrows get older and begin putting on some weight (so you can either sell them or consume them yourself), the center of gravity begins shifting towards the front of the tower. Depending on how established your towers may be and the crop you're growing, this shift in your ZipGrow's center of mass can sometimes cause the angle at which it hangs to increase and nutrient-laden water to drip forward.
What Happens When My ZipGrows Shift?
There are two scenarios that could happen if your water begins dripping to the front of the ZipGrow tower:
1) The first is that the water could drip onto the leaves of your plant, encouraging powdery mildew and other fungal pathogens, as well as encouraging a larger pest population. This poses a potential compliance issue for commercial growers growing for grocery stores as well, but we'll let you learn more about that in the compliance webinar.
2) Another potential issue that can occur with established towers (e.g. that tower of basil or chives you've been harvesting massive amounts from every other week for the last four months!) is if the water hits the dense root mass of your plants, flows over the crown (the part of the plant that’s in between foliage and roots), and gets redirected forward and out of your tower. Not only would the water drip onto the foliage on the plants below but would limit the water flow from that point downward.
So with these potentially system slowing issues in play, how do we avoid them?
The Second Set of Holes: Mature, Established Crops
The solution is the second set of holes.
When your ZipGrows start to lean from the weight of your maturing plants, you’ll want to transition from the back set of holes to the front set. This will compensate for the shifting center of gravity, your tower will hang straight again and your irrigation water will flow through your tower the way it’s designed to.
Example: Mature Chive Towers
An example of when we begin shifting to the front set of holes is our massive ZipGrow towers of chives.
And let me just say, when we grow chives, we grow chives.
One 5' ZipGrow tower can yield over five pounds from one harvest (in this case over seven pounds)!
When you're harvesting chives every two weeks or so for months (if not years) at a time before replanting the tower, not only do you gross a serious about of chives, but your tower also begins to feel the weight of maturity and can begin shifting it's center of mass.
To combat this, we simply move the ZipGrow hanging hook from the back set of holes to the front and PRESTO- the chive hysteria continues.
Is it possible for plants to grow so large that even the second set of holes isn't enough to compensate?
The crops that we recommend will not grow that large, but if you are growing a heavy crop like cabbage, it’s possible. (If you are growing something that heavy, odds are it hasn't been done yet, and we would love to know how it turns out- shoot us an email!)
Ready to Start ZipGrow'ing?
We are so passionate and encouraged by the success of our Upstart Farmers and other growers across the world that we have a hard time recommending any other hydroponic or aquaponic growing technique than our ZipGrow towers.
Not only do our growers love their incredible benefits including their ease of transport to grocery stores or farmer's markets, but because they help reduce harvesting and packaging costs, our Upstart Farmers can scale their systems and their businesses rapidly, thus creating a more of a beautiful impact on their local food economies.
If you're ready to start incorporating ZipGrow towers into your new or existing system, you can always visit our online store here.
And, if you want to chat with someone before you take the plunge, feel free to contact us. We love helping small farmers succeed.