May 27th, 2009 browsing by day


EarthBox, EarthTainer, GrowBox, etc.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

I am finding more and more evidence of EarthBox-like container gardening online. I was first tipped off to the EarthBox when watching a cooking show on PBS featuring chef Rick Bayless of Chicago. They were interviewing him on his restaurant’s rooftop garden in downtown Chicago. It was unbelievable–a lush forest of tomatos and peppers up there in the middle of Chicago. He mentioned that he used “self-watering self-fertilizing containers”, and that’s what led me to look into them and get one of my own (I have yet to try it out–missed the spring planting dates. Am planning on trying some squash in it in late summer). There is so much guesswork (for the novice gardener at least) involved in both watering and fertilizing that something that handles both of those tasks for you is very appealing. Also the ability to garden anywhere is attractive, especially for those of us in areas with lots of deer. The deer won’t come up onto the deck!

Since reading about the EarthBox here and there online I have run into other similar commercial planters as well as some DIY variations. One in particular, called the “EarthTainer” (that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as “EarthBox”), seems to have some momentum behind it. It has a larger capacity than the EarthBox (3 cu. ft. of mix vs. 2 for the EarthBox) and can be made for $23.00 from easy-to-find materials according to the detailed instructions available here (PDF). The creator of this version is a frequent poster (as “raybo”) to the annoyingly ad-laden but heavily-trafficked GardenWeb forums and there are lots of informative posts there about his experiments with the EarthTainer, including many tantalizing photos of EarthTainers filled with corn and tomatos.

So we have the EarthBox and the EarthTainer. And I have also found an unnamed version that appears to perhaps be a predecessor to the EarthTainer. Detailed instructions are here for that one. And another DIY one with instructions is at the Inside Urban Green site. Their site calls these things “Sub-Irrigated Grow Boxes“, which seems like a suitable generic name. Have also seen “Sub-Irrigated Planter” or “SIP”. Inside Urban Green seems to be leading the charge for the use of SIPs in urban areas. This post in particular discusses one of the dangers that SIPs neatly avoid–lead-laden urban soils–and also provides a good set of links to further resources.

Googling around for more info on the EarthTainer led me to an Austin garden blog, the Crazy Billionaire, that has a discussion as well as a test of the EarthTainer. Good blog by the way, check it out.

Just found another commercially available one called the Garden Patch GrowBox. And another called the Organic Tomato Success Kit. And another DIY version at The Rooftop Garden Project. They’re everywhere!

Anyway, looking forward to firing up my EarthBox.