12 Replies Latest reply on May 22, 2016 6:09 AM by kroche

    Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

      I have never grown a plant in my life but love the TG concept.  I should have fully educated myself before beginning but I did not.  I have multiple issues going on and I need help.


      I did not know the importance of plugging the holes that are not planted yet to cut out light or that I need to provide air circulation.  I know I need to address those two issues but I think my garden conditions are spiraling out of control.


      I realize now that I did several things incorrectly, I just need to know if there is a way to fix it or do I need to throw out all the plants and start over.


      I grew the seedlings for the seeds that came with the garden and once those were ready I went ahead and transplanted them into the net pots in the tower (March 29).  There were probably only 6 seedlings and all the other spots were empty and not covered.  I filled the water reservoir with tap water added 200 mL each of the mineral solutions A & B. I checked the pH and it was 6.0. The TG is located next to a large window in a large room of my house and I have grow lights (14 hrs).  We keep our house temp around 70.  I do not have a ceiling fan is this room so there isn't air circulation around the garden.  I will be purchasing a fan tomorrow. Water on a time 15 mins on/45 mins off.


      I ordered more seeds and planted those seedlings in the TG on April 8th. From this point on there were only 6 empty slots. I topped off the water, checked the pH, it was 7.0 so I added 5 mL of pH Acid and then retested and it was 6.5.


      On April 17th I noticed that the kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli (all second batch seedlings) and the arugula (1st batch seedling, but next kale) were looking wimpy, no new growth and really yellow leaves.  So I thought it must be time to up the mineral concentration to the full strength. I did this by just adding 200 mL each of A & B. I checked the pH and it was 5.0 so I added pH Base 5 mL at a time and retested and I think I ended up 30 mL of the base to get it to 6.0 pH.  I upped the watering time to 15 mins on/30 mins off. 


      I noticed last night mold and algae.  The more I read trying to resolve my issue the more potential issues I potentially see. I did lower the watering back down to 15 mins on/45 mins off and upped the lights to 15 hr.


      -The 1st picture is a cucumber leaf. I looked all over at all the plants last night and I did not notice this. 


      -2nd picture is suppose to be only brussel sprouts, which is the sad little plant on the left.  I have no idea what is growing on the right, it doesn't look like anything else that I have planted. Why is it growing and the brussel sprout withering?  If I have a weed in my indoor TG, I am going to cut off my thumbs and go to Sprouts.


      -3rd picture is my puny kale. 


      -4th picture is my whole TG. The lettuce, cilantro and basil up top all look really great.


      -5th picture shows the fuzzy mold that is growing on almost all of my rock wool cubes. 


      So currently my pH is 5.0, water is clear, there is a slick dark coating on the inside of the reservoir and parts of the center column. I am guessing this is algae due to not plugging the unused holes but I think it is pretty clear at this point that I have no real understanding of what I am doing. I will add a fan to provide air circulation.  I was planning on taking it apart, rinsing the mold off the cubes and wiping out all of the algae in the tower. When I came home tonight I realized there was algae in the reservoir too and saw the suspicious looking cucumber leaves. So I am admitting defeat, I don't want to spin my wheels trying to fix the wrong thing. I want a salad already!!  Oh, and I saw a teeny tiny green bug land on the center column last night...I didn't get a picture of it and I haven't seen another one.  Should I go ahead and treat for aphids...or just donate this tower garden to the local elementary school?



        • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

          Hi laciehicks, Take a step back... and a deep breath. I will get you through this. I ask only two things in return: 1) Forget everything you have been told and/or read about how to grow with the TG up to this point. 2) Take direction only from me and follow my instructions exactly. If you agree to my terms, then we can start. Assuming you agree, Step 1: Read these documents carefully and follow them (to the letter):


          Tower Garden Setup & Growing Guide

          Tower Garden Fundamentals


          IMPORTANT: If you encounter a contradiction between the docs, the TG Fundamentals has priority.


          Additional Instructions:

          • Remove the nutrient tub access cover briefly only when access to the tub is required. Otherwise, keep it on at all times.
          • Remove any / all plant ID marker flags from the rockwool cubes. Instead, use a Sharpie and write a number *BELOW* each growing port. On a piece of paper or spreadsheet, write the numbers down and ID the plant associated with the numbers.
          • Order the following item to use in empty net pots: http://www.amazon.com/50-PACK-Cloning-Collars-Machines/dp/B00DFKGZLA/.


          Recommendations / Suggestions / Observations:

          • For your first few growing seasons, stick to leafy greens and herbs. Later on, if you want to try flowering / fruiting plants like tomato, cucumber, etc. it is strongly suggested that you grow them outdoors.
          • Brussel sprouts get big, take a while to grow and need extra TLC. It is not a beginner crop.
          • Cilantro can be a bit fussy to grow hydroponically. They need extra TLC. It is not a beginner crop.
          • Basil needs a lot of light. Move it down to a middle growing port.
          • Up your grow light On time to 16 hours for now.
          • Keep your nutrient pump timer set to 15-On, 45-Off for now.



          • What color is the "slick dark coating" inside the nutrient solution tub?
          • What is your water source (well? tap? other?).
          • Do you have any type of water filter and/or water treatment system?
          • Does your TG receive total darkness during the grow lights off time?
          • What is your zip code?
          • What (exactly) are you NOT doing that is described in the Tower Garden Fundamentals document mentioned above?


          -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

          5 of 5 people found this helpful
          • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

            Good morning! Your lettuce is looking wonderful! Gardening is a learning process ~ don't give up ~ you'll get this!


            I recommend that as an indoor gardener, you go back to the basics. The easiest things to grow on an indoor garden is leafy greens, like Swiss chard, herbs, lettuce, kale, arugula, etc. Because you don't have a ton of room before your plants hit the lights, you want to stick to smaller plants.


            Brussels sprouts is a MONSTER plant that probably needs a wall mounted grow light to work indoors.


            Flowering plants require a different grow light than what the Tower Garden comes with in order to set fruit, so skip the cucumbers and tomatoes for now. You can definitely grow then, but you'll need to make some adjustments in your grow lights in order to do so.


            Remove any plants that look weak, wimpy, or dead. Replant with leafy greens.


            If you think there is mold in the reservoir, dump the tower and start fresh. I've never seen mold growing in the reservoir, but if you have it, start over.


            Rockwool can have all kind of stuff growing on it and be perfectly OK. Wherever minerals meet sunlight (or grow light) you'll have colorful growth on the rockwool. It's not necessarily bad.


            If you see a bug on a small plant,  remove your plant (pull the net pot UP and out) and rinse the whole thing in the sink to remove. That's your first line of defense.


            Hope these tips help!

            3 of 3 people found this helpful
            • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

              Hi laciehicks, Please review the following and let me know if you have any questions...


              "The coating looks to be green/gray.  But when I pulled my pump up the slime it left on my hands was yellow/orange from the cord and the pump.  I scraped some off the side of the tub and is was brown."

              -- This could be bacterial slime (bad) but because I spotted the tub access cover missing in one of your photos (light inflitration) and you did not mention cloudy and/or foaming nutrient solution, I will go with this being algae (bad, but not as bad as bacterial slime). More on the corrective action for this later. In the meantime, buy a bottle of this:



              (Note: Keep your nutrient solution temperature in the 65 to 75 degree F range (favor the lower end of that range whenever possible).


              "tap water (from kitchen sink)"

              -- Your zip code of 75002 appears to be a member of the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). Based on the Water Analysis Report for your area (https://www.ntmwd.com/downloads/WaterQualityAnalysis/wqa_wylie_2016.pdf), your water is considered "moderately hard"; it has a Total Hardness value of 8.8 grains per gallon. Also, the NTMWD utilizes chloramine as a disinfectant.


              "no water treatment or filter"

              -- Based on your water analysis and kitchen sink tap location, I highly recommend you purchase the following items:





              "It is pretty dark but not total darkness"

              -- Do your best to schedule the grow lights OFF time during the darkest part of the evening where your TG is located.


              "I have not been check the pH twice a week, more like every week or so."

              -- Increase pH testing to twice a week until you get comforable with what your TG pH is doing on a daily basis. Once you get the "feel" of your system's pH increase it to once a week. Remember, in addition to your regular pH check, you still need to check pH anytime you add anything to the nutrient solution tub.


              "I was not waiting 30 mins after adding minerals to check pH, I added way to much base after incorrectly adding minerals"

              -- Always wait at least 30 minutes after adding anything to your nutrient solution before checking pH. Adjust if necessary, adding a max of 2 tsp. pH adjuster solution (Acid/Base) at a time... mix... and wait at least 30 minutes before re-testing.


              "I added the A&B solutions directly into the tub as oppose to separate container"

              -- When "topping-off", mix new nutrient solution in a separate container. I recommend doing this in 5-gallon increments using an old 5-gallon water cooler bottle with a handle (http://www.lulusoso.com/upload/20110708/5_gallon_water_bottle_with_handle.jpg). Never let the tub get below 1/2 full. Tip: If you place the long edge of the tub access cover down inside the tub access port so that one edge is flush with the white tower base, you are 5-gallons low when the waterline is just touching the other end of the cover.


              "I have not once cleaned the pump, it has been about 30 days"

              -- If the pump flow seems OK then a simple pre-filter cleaning is all that is needed. Remove the front cover of the pump and rinse the filter element out in the tub solution before you dump it (should be done every 30 to 60 days).


              "I have not been turning my TG"

              -- Outdoor TG: 1/4 turn clockwise daily. Indoor TG (with Grow Lights): No turning required.


              "I did not shake the A&B nutrients"

              -- Shake all concentrates / solutions before using in your TG.


              "I haven't been cleaning the pH liquid test kit before testing the water, only after"

              -- Rinse the test tube before and after each use. Recommendation: Get a pH meter. They are easier to use and more accurate than liquid test kits. Here is my recommendation:



              "I was using 5.5-6.5 as the standard for acceptable pH range"

              -- Keep your nutrient solution pH in the 5.5 to 6.0 range. Once in that range, don't mess with it.


              "I haven't changed the water in the tub, only added to it"

              -- In addition to your "topping-off", do a complete nutrient solution replacement every 30 to 60 days.


              General Recommendation:

              Since you are due for a complete nutrient solution change, I would recommend dumping the existing solution and cleaning-out the tub and pump, etc.. Remove as much of the algae as possible. Refill using filtered water as instructed in the TG Fundamentals doc. Add 1/2 tbsp. Sodium Ascobate, mix, then add your Tower Tonic Mineral Blend concentrates (use 1/2 strength mix), then add 200 drops of GSE, mix, wait 30 minutes, then test pH. Adjust pH (if necessary). Lastly, Follow the recommendations set forth in the TG Fundamentals document. The closer you come to accurately following that doc, the healthier and happier both you and your TG will be.  ;-)


              -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

              6 of 6 people found this helpful
                • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

                  Should I keep all my plants or start new seedlings?

                    • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

                      Hi laciehicks, I suggest the following...


                      Keep only a few of the biggest, healthiest plants and discard the rest. Then, order some "TG ready" seedlings from the folks at True Garden in Mesa, AZ (http://truegarden.com/tower-garden-seedlings/). Best I can tell, they are the closest TG seedling provider to you.


                      • Lettuce – Rex [at least 6, 4 if also ordering Lettuce – Cherokee]
                      • Lettuce – Cherokee [at least 6, 4 if also ordering Lettuce – Rex]
                      • Swiss Chard – Bright Lights [at least 2]
                      • Kale – Starbor [at least 2]
                      • Arugula – Astro [at least 2]
                      • Chives – Purly [at least 2]
                      • Dill – Fernleaf [at least 2]
                      • Sorrel – Red Veined [at least 2]
                      • Sage – Common [at least 2]
                      • Celery – Tango [at least 2]


                      Ordering seedlings vs. starting from seed will get you growing faster and allow you to focus on getting comfortable with the TG system basics. Once you get your first growing season under your belt, you can try your hand at starting from seed.


                      IMPORTANT: I strongly suggest that you address all the points in my prior post to get your TG system ready for new seedlings before you order any new seedlings.


                      -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

                      3 of 3 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Mold, algae and fungus..Oh my!!

                      Hello joed,

                      I was just reading your recommendations to Lacie. I am in Jacksonville,Fl and we have high chlorination in our water supply also. Is that filter that you recommended from Walmart something I can attach to my outdoor spicket when filling my reservoir? How long does the canister last before needing a new one?


                      Thank you,


                      1 of 1 people found this helpful