Thursday, May 29, 2014

E is for EarthBox Gardening

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I really love gardening with my EarthBoxes (aff). When I first learned about them, it was from a homeschool forum I used to frequent. With my Bermuda grass-filled backyard, it was never possible (though I certainly did try) to grow a decent garden that did not get swallowed up with weeds. I thought - do these things really work? I received a single one to review. It was many many years ago that I reviewed it and over the years I added one or two to the group. I now have ten. They are prolific and fun to use. This is the science behind the EarthBox and this is how you use them!

First you buy one. (Smile.) And some plants.

Then you buy the potting mix to go in it. The EB site sells it, but to ship it to you is more expensive than I am willing to pay so I buy local potting mix. I bought this to add to what was already in my box from last year so I did not need as much. You cannot use potting soil as it it dense and will not work. I have tried various kinds, but this mix was what was at the local Home Depot so I bought it.

If I am refilling an EB I have already used, I dump out the last year's soil into a black plastic mixing bin we also bought from Home Depot. I break up all the solid soil, add some of the new potting mix, and then add a lot of water. Mix well and break up the clumps!

Once the soil is ready, I start adding it to the EB. There are specific directions that come with the box and if you are doing this for the first time - definitely follow them!!

Next up, fertilizer. If you buy a new EB, it comes with your first fertilizer. If you are replanting from a previous use, you need replacement fertilizer. If you are growing tomatoes, you will want to buy the Replant Kit as it has a special additive for tomatoes. They will not grow as well if you use anything else. (Ask me how I know!) For any other vegetable, you can use something like this:

It just has to be the kind specifically for veggies. You will fill the EB about 3/4 of the way full and then you will lay the fertilizer strip. Depending on what you are planting, it may or may not be in the middle. The EB Planting Guides explain what you can plant and how you plant correctly for the best harvest. It should look something like this:

Once this is done, you will mound the potting mix on top of it so that when you put the cover on, the water will run down from the top, rather than pool there. The EB does not feed water to the plant from the top, but from the reservoir in the bottom of the box via a wicking system. (See the science of the EB above.) The final mounding should look like this:

You definitely want to make sure the fertilizer is covered well enough that your dogs or bugs will not smell it. You won't like the results if it is lightly covered. (Ask me how I know!)

Once you have done this, you put the cover on and plant your plants! These are three honeydew melons that should grow like the wind this year. We have grown them before and they are the sweetest most delicious melons I have ever had.

I have six boxes planted and two waiting for me to get it together to plant. I even have plants ready! (And two more just staring at me.) Below are two tomato EBs in the early growing stages. Once they are planted, they grow pretty quickly. I fill up the reservoir troughs every few days. I do it more often when we have a heatwave.

We have planted a ton of different things over the years, but the best success has been had with the regulars: tomatoes, melons, cucumber, green beans, snap peas, zucchini, crook neck squash, peppers, and herbs. 

Does this sound like the kind of garden you'd like to have? Living in the city, with a yard like mine, it is the only way I can actually grow anything successfully. It is a delight to be able to grow anything at all, but the EBs definitely give more than less. 

If you had an EarthBox (aff), what would you plant in it?

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Michele said...

I keep admiring your boxes and threatening to get some since we currently live in a rental house, but just haven't done it yet. Maybe this will be the push I need!

Kate said...


They're movable!! :D


Jalenagraham said...

These look fantastic! OK, I'm encouraged that there is now hope for our little garden.

Kate said...

There is! :D

Jenn H. said...

I've envied your earthboxes for a couple years now. Thank you for sharing how it's done! It seems less intimidating now!