Usually when I talk with the Mrs. about starting a garden, she usually rolls her eyes and directs my attention to the remnants of the failed raised bed garden in our backyard. We have been through this at least a few times. First when my oldest was born, when we both had visions of making our own organic baby food. It turns out we had a friend who actually went into business making her own, and our garden never really developed. Next our youngest came around. Since our friend was no longer in the business, I decided to try the square foot gardening method. With poor planning, our garden quickly became overrun by weeds. So this time when I mentioned to the Mrs. that I wanted to try my hand at gardening again she just pointed to the back yard and politely reminded me of my previous failures.
Well the joke is on her this time! A few months ago I decided to take the plunge and purchase some Mr. Stacky vertical gardening pots. I reached out to Mr. Stacky himself and arranged for a product review. After much research, I decided that vertical gardening would be the way to go for our family. Not only was it supposed to be low maintenance, but there would be very little room required. Based on the setup, I also knew that if it was a horrible failure, I could quickly remove the pots, and there would be no evidence left behind! So what in the world is a Mr. Stacky?
Mr. Stacky is a brand of a local Florida based company that sells what would turn out to be some one of the best gardening investments I could ever make! The concept is that these pots stack vertically and when you water your plants from the top, the water seeps from the top down, through your entire vertical garden. This means less water, and less waste. So I quickly purchased them before the Mrs. changed her mind. I decided to purchase the large DIY vertical planters instead of purchasing the entire gardening kit. I wish I would have purchased the entire kit right off the bat.
In order to get the buy in from the Mrs., I told her I would just use the planters this season and skip the automatic drip watering system to save a little bit of cash. After assembling my planters, I decided to purchase my own drip system and in retrospect, it probably would have been less expensive to just purchase the entire kit instead of buying everything piece by piece. So how exactly do you “assemble” a Mr. Stacky planter? Well the concept is the same regardless of the size planters you purchase, you just use different sized pipe. While you don’t necessarily need to mirror my setup I’m happy to share what I did.
Since I had the larger Mr. Stacky pots, I started with a 1″ – 10 foot piece of EMT. This is a very common pipe size and is found in the electrical section of Home Depot or Lowes. EMT actually stands for Electrical Metal Tubing. I marked the tubing with a permanent marker at 4 feet. After dragging out my 10 foot ladder, using a piece of scrap wood, I pounded the tubing into the ground. Florida soil is mostly sand so this was a fairly easy process. I was then left with a very sturdy pole that in the future could be moved if necessary. From there, I cut a piece of 1.25″ standard PVC pipe at the 2.5 foot mark and placed a regular PVC connector on it. At this point, I had some food grade 5 gallon buckets that I drilled holes in to use as large bottom planters. With a 1.25″ hole in the center and a few 1/2″ holes for drainage, I made quick work out of the bottom pieces. Now here comes the final assembly! I slipped the empty bucket over the metal tubing, then slipped the PVC pipe and connector over the metal tubing and through the bucket. From there all I did was stack the Mr. Stacky planters on top of the connector. I was able to add some soil and I was done! The Mr. Stacky pots actually pivot on top of the PVC connector in case you need to turn your pots for maximum exposure to the sun.
So that is where my video ends, and at the time I hadn’t planned on the drip irrigation system. I used a small fountain pump, some drip irrigation tubing and a 55 gallon food grade barrel for my water source. After adding a timer I was in business! I did this not to upset the Mrs by spending more money, but I knew that this was my last chance at a garden. I needed it to be successful! Since I work full time, am a graduate student, and don’t really have too much free time on my hands I thought it best to make it as simple as possible.
So here I am now about 3 months later. I generally don’t wait this long to post a review, but one thing that really bothered me was seeing all the youtube videos on how to setup gardening gear, but I never got to see the results. Did the design work? Was it really worth it? The answer to the Mr. Stacky question is yes! You can see below the great harvest that we have had so far this year. Lots of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beans, and more! I learned quite a few lessons about gardening this year, and can honestly say that I wish I had found Mr. Stacky years ago. It has been a fun experience so far, and the boys love to go “pickin'” with me. There is just something about being able to go into your own garden and pick dinner that is very satisfying!
Working with Mr. Stacky, I found that they are a locally owned, Florida based company and the customer service couldn’t have been better! One thing I was really impressed with was the Facebook support. Yes, social media can actually be used to help you! The Mr. Stacky Facebook page is operated by one of their master gardeners that can help you with your questions before, or after your purchase. I had some questions and they were quick to answer.
I do have some Mr. Stacky lessons learned though that I wish I would have realized before starting this project:
- You may wish to purchase one of the systems instead of the individual planters. After all was said and done, it would have been cheaper. The kits include the timer, the growing medium (coco coir), pump, and plant food. All you need to do is add the large tubing to stack them on and a garbage can or barrel for the water.
- I would recommend putting down landscape fabric. I skipped this step, and have found it to be a pain trimming and mowing around the towers. I have an incredible cucumber plant growing in one of the lower buckets which makes it impossible to get the weed eater near my planters.
- Plan out and label what you want to grow and where. I didn’t give much thought to how big these plants would grow! For Example, I have some tomatoes in one of the lower Mr. Stacky pots, which grew so big it began engulfing the plants on the next tier up.
- I have two rows of vertical stacks, I think in retrospect I would probably setup just one long row in the future. It looks better in the garden and I can put my water barrel all the way at the end out of side instead of being front and center.
- If you purchase a fountain pump separately, you might want to upgrade it. I purchased one that was 550 gallons per hour. If successful, I didn’t want to repurchase a pump for more planters.
- Bigger isn’t always better! Next season I plan on purchasing a few more stacks, but might even go a bit smaller. The regular size Mr. Stacky pots are perfect for herbs and strawberries! Not only are they a bit smaller and less expensive, but the PVC supplies are also less costly.
Want to get your very own vertical tower garden started? You have a few choices. I would recommend going straight to MrStacky.com to purchase a complete kit. If you really want to go the DIY route, you can also purchase the planters from the site, or you can purchase via Amazon. The pump and timer below are models I purchased. Still not convinced? Check all the pictures from our garden!
- Smaller 5 Tier Mr. Stacky Planter
- Larger 5 Tier Mr. Stacky Planter
- Woods Digital Programmable Timer
- 550 GPH Submersible Pump