My mom got an interesting addition to her garden a few years back, a Tower Garden aeroponic system. At the time, I knew enough about water-based gardening to be interested in what she was doing, and once I saw what nice vegetables it could grow, I looked into getting one of my own. I balked at the price though and gave up on it for the time being. But now that my mom is retired, busy with grandchildren, and traveling more often, she hasn't had the time to maintain her tower, so she passed it on to me because she's awesome. :)
This is my third year growing with it, and I finally feel like I'm getting it dialed in. It's a pretty easy system to use, but I made a lot of mistakes the first year. The biggest one was starting with soil-based seedlings. I tried my best to clean the roots of all the dirt, but it was incredibly time consuming and too much of a shock to the plants.
Last year I found a greenhouse that specializes in Tower Garden systems, and they sell seedlings that are ready to transfer directly to the tower. It made a world of difference in the setup. So much easier!
The other thing I've learned is that certain plants grow root systems or stalks that are just too big to work in space provided - peppers or okra for instance. Last year, the plants that did the best out of the bunch were lettuces and greens, so this summer we decided to fill the tower mostly with things we could use in fresh salads.
This is what an aeroponic seedling looks like. The seeds are started in rock wool, which you then put in a little plastic root basket and pop in the tower. The tower is hollow inside so that water can be pumped from the basin below up through the tower to drip down over the roots. The pump is on a timer, so every 15 minutes, it turns on and off to provide water and nutrients for the roots.
Now that everything is finally set up, I just have to check my pH levels in the water every few days, maintain the water and nutrient solutions, and trim the roots once the plants get established. Well, that, and replant my herbs and peppers, which I am way behind on this year. One thing at a time though! :)