The Earthly Gardener by Bobbi A. Chukran
I mentioned a while back that I had bought an EarthBox for my birthday. I finally got around to setting it up last weekend, and so far, I’m very happy with it. The EarthBox is an ingenious system that’s sort of a hybrid hydroponic/soil-based system, that allows you to grow flowers, herbs or vegetables anywhere. These are especially good for folks who don’t have a real garden….people who grow things on balconies, patios, decks, places where the soil is bad or non-existent, etc. It’s basically a large, self-watering container garden.
I got the terra cotta colored one (it also comes in dark green), and it fits in well with the other clay pots and objects in my garden. The idea behind the EarthBox is that you fill the bottom with water, insert a screen thing, then fill the rest with any potting soil. I used two bags of organic potting soil I found at the local garden center. You add a line of organic fertilizer (provided with the box) along the top of the box, put on a plastic “mulch” over the top, then cut holes in that and plant. The plastic fits over the top snugly like a shower cap, with elastic around the edges. The fertilizer will last all season; you don’t have to add more until after the harvest.
After a while, you do have to add water (through a convenient pipe that sticks out the top) but there’s an overflow hole so you never over-water. That’s always a problem with tomatoes. We had a hard, driving rainstorm, and the whole thing, including plastic mulch top, is still intact. I have mine sitting out in the front garden by the porch. It has casters on the bottom so you can roll it around easily. I wish I could put it up on the wooden porch, but that area just doesn’t get enough sun.
The two plants I put in the EarthBox last weekend already look better than the two I planted out into the garden several weeks ago.
It’s raining now, but eventually I’ll get some photos and include them here. I love experimenting with new garden “systems” and am curious to see how this works for us. The EarthBox website has more information, and a great forum there for folks who use these in all sorts of situations.
The only thing I didn’t like about the EarthBox was the fact that I had to stick my hands through the holes in the plastic mulch to plant the tomatoes. I would much rather plant, then add the mulch over the top, but I see why that wouldn’t work so well unless you were very careful. Also, I used large plants….using smaller seedlings is recommended, and would be much easier to deal with, too.
Some online users have expressed dismay at the customer service when ordering directly from the company. I bought my box at a local garden center, so that wasn’t a problem for me. I would suggest calling or e-mailing the company to make sure the boxes are in stock before ordering.
There are lots of links online to alternatives to the EarthBox. Just do a search for “self-watering containers” and you should find plenty of information and ideas.
Copyright © 2007 Bobbi A. Chukran. All rights reserved.