G-Towers

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3D Printed Growing Towers

Intro

The G-Towers are an open source vertical growing system designed by Larry Athey, and built at the OSE Aquaponic Greenhouse workshops of 2015 and 2016. They are similar to the V-Towers growing system. (Note however that as of early 2017 communications - Larry is not sharing the 3D-printed version of the grow towers as open source OSHWA-compliant, though the hand-built version made from 4" PVC or Polyethylene tube are open source).

  • See playlist from Larry Athey - [1]

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Tower Weight Notes

We are using DWV pipe at .7 lb/ft, so 6 lb + 2 lb for foam medium for a 9 foot tower. 8 lb per tower + weight of plants. Full sized kale depends on your definition of full-sized - if you let it grow for years, it could get to several pounds. There are 33 holes per 9 feet - so for 3 lb kale - that's 100 lb. That would be absolute max - adult kale may be 1 lb per plant. We haven't measured.

For 50 towers, max would be 5000 lb hanging from the ceiling - structural ceiling is needed.

Marcin

Build Videos

Here are some videos and pictures from the Aquaponic Greenhouse Workshop of 2016:

BOM + Build Instructions

See https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BW9_xKb1rVRNQdgrL1hceZdbgKpmxzoTERwNJ-gdjZM/edit?ts=580ac7c6

Food Safety Facts

From Larry - The G-Tower is just as food safe as any other plastic flower pot on the market. The next time you go to a greenhouse or commercial lawn & garden center that sells live plants for your garden, take the time to look for a food safe label on the container that they're growing in or on any other plastic flower pot they have for sale (you stand about a .01% chance of finding such a label). The fact that the G-Tower is made out of ASTM-D2729 drain line means that it is far more resistant to acids, which makes it even more safe than other types of PVC. The only time ASTM-D2729 could possibly be considered unsafe is while it is hot enough to be pliable. But, once it returns to its rigid state, it no longer off-gases like hot pliable or liquid Poly Vinyl Chloride like you would find at the manufacturer. Taking a shower or bath in a house that uses PVC plumbing is far more dangerous than eating any plant grown in a G-Tower because the 135~150 degree (F) water passing through your pipes would potentially release more toxins from the PVC than the 72~78 degree (F) water in any aquaponics system. Considering the fact that hot water opens the pores of your skin and you are far more likely to absorb toxins that way rather than from eating any plant grown in a plastic flower pot or G-Tower, the safety of your own plumbing should be of far more concern to you.

Sourcing

  • Hibco Plastics - http://www.hibco.com/ - Reticulated Urethane foam, artificial soil medium, open pore filter type material, 20-25 Pores Per Inch (PPI), very course.
  • Keith Pavlansky, kpavlansky@hibco.com
  • Larry Athey suggests 2"x3-1/2"x3' pieces, cost of $1/board-foot, or $1.75 per piece, minimum order quantity (MOQ) of $300.

Videos

Example small-scale G-Tower based home aquaponics system that only requires a 4x4 foot corner in any room.

Hibco Plastics materials - artificial soil medium foam explained - interview of Hibco's Keith Pavlansky by David Cunningham of Smart Grow Technologies.

How to plant the G-Towers with no need for netpots or commercially manufactured plant starter plugs.

Links

  • V-Towers
  • PVC - $7 for 10 feet - [2]
  • Polyethylene instead of PVC pipe - $7 for 10 feet - [3]