With so many options it can be a challenge to decide what to plant in your GreenStalk garden. Each tier has 6 planting pockets, so for an entire tower you may have 18, 24 or 30 planting pockets! You can grow the same thing in each pocket or do something different in each one - it's up to you. Oftentimes at GreenStalk, we will grow 1-5 different types of plants per GreenStalk system and we may plant the exact same thing in several towers just to see if there are any differences in growth. However, at my house I like to plant something different in almost every pocket so I can grow a variety of vegetables:
Before we get started, let's debunk some myths of what you can grow in a GreenStalk:
1. I can't grow tomatoes in a GreenStalk.
FALSE. We do all the time! We even wrote a blog post about how we do it. You can grow both determinate and indeterminate varieties in the GreenStalk gardening system.
2. I have to grow plants that will "fit" in each pocket.
FALSE. The GreenStalk was designed to grow a very wide variety of plants. The pockets are somewhat small compared to a regular pot, but that is to reduce evaporation and to keep the roots cool. If you've grown in the GreenStalk before, you know that the plants love to grow up and out towards the sun and the "small" pockets don't hinder them a bit!
3. I can only plant one type of plant in the GreenStalk.
FALSE. You can plant anything in the GreenStalk. You can plant each pocket with something different. You can plant each tier with something different. It's up to you!
4. I have to have a certain size GreenStalk to grow certain plants.
FALSE. No matter what size GreenStalk you have, you can grow what you want. The only difference the size of your GreenStalk makes is the quantity of plants you're able to grow.
5. When I water I'm going to drown the top/bottom/middle planters.
FALSE. If you have this problem, then you do not own a GreenStalk but another company's product that claims to have a watering system. The GreenStalk evenly distributes water to each level at the same time. There are several drain holes in each tier so as a backup, if you do over-water, the water will drain into the planter below until it drains out the bottom.
There are a couple of things you need to consider when deciding what to plant.
What do you want your GreenStalk to look like?
A GreenStalk garden looks different depending on what you're growing. Indeterminate tomatoes and other large plants like squash, cucumbers, peppers and sweet potatoes may completely cover your GreenStalk. If you grow carrots, strawberries, beets or some varieties of flowers, you may get a more "manicured" looking GreenStalk. Once you decide the look you're going for, you can select varieties based on your needs.
What are my options for this season (cool weather or warm weather crops)?
It's important to determine what will grow best in each growing season. In the spring, we grow our leafy greens such as kale, spinach and lettuce along with beets and carrots because in our area (zone 7) those crops grow best in spring and fall. In the summer we grow dwarf corn, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, herbs, tomatoes and more!
What do I want to harvest?
If you grow a ton of beets but your family and friends don't like beets, you'll be stuck eating beets for a while. It's important to determine the quantity of food you want/need to produce. The harvest is the "fun" part of gardening so it helps to know what you're planning on doing with/making with the produce you grow.
The options are limitless for growing in the GreenStalk. Did you know you can even grow sweet potatoes vertically?! The number one rule of thumb is be mindful of large plants. If you are planting an entire GreenStalk with tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes and cucumbers, you don't have much to worry about - you can really plant any of those in any pocket and they'll do great! However, if you're growing a mix of large and small plants, be sure to plant the smaller plants above the large ones so that way they aren't competing for sun.
Another tip is to let the GreenStalk have some breathing room. I placed my GreenStalks about 6 inches from my deck railing thinking that was enough growing space for them. It was not. My broccoli plants adjusted and grew up and to the right (to avoid the railing), but that's not ideal. You really need about 18-24" between GreenStalks, walls and other objects if you're growing large vegetables like I was.
For a comparison on growing from seed or starter plants see this post.
I hope this post was informative and sparked some ideas for what to plant in your own GreenStalk. If you take anything away from reading this, I hope it's that you can grow pretty much ANYTHING, because you can!
What are your favorite plants to grow in the GreenStalk? Let us know in the comments below!
Cody Catherine Thomas