Monday, July 11, 2011

How to plant an EarthBox

Many people who see our garden ask us about our EarthBoxes and how they work, so I thought I would do a demonstration to show you. We like EarthBoxes a lot as they are transportable so we can take advantage of the sun, even when it moves during certain seasons, and the plants we grow in them are usually the most successful plants in our garden. We currently own 13 of these boxes and hope to acquire many more to fill up our rooftop as we are able. These are great for rooftop gardens because they weigh less than raised planter beds, and it's fun to be able to redesign your garden as often as you want, because you can move them  easily.

An EarthBox and its inner workings. 
Last season we had spinach in this box and now we are replanting it with Big Bertha peppers. Before I started, I cleaned the entire EarthBox and all of the components with bleach and water. The black screen keeps the soil a little more than an inch off of the bottom of the box and the tube is used for watering. There is an overflow hole in the front bottom of the box to let you know when you have watered enough, so that is another great benefit to gardening in these boxes; no second guessing about how much to water.

The soil we sanitized for 6 days in brutally hot weather 
There are several options for soil in your EarthBox. We are using the sanitized FoxFarm soil that was in this box before. We are comfortable reusing the soil because the plants that were in it were healthy and showed no sign of disease. EarthBox also has a coconut medium that you can buy with your box which is lighter weight and seems to be working just as well as regular soil.

Packing the corners.
Place soil in the 2 rear corners first and pack it in, this helps the water wick up into the rest of the soil. Then pack your soil into the box on top of the screen, it will take 2 cu. feet of soil to fill the box.

I added some calcium several inches below the top of the box.
Peppers can get blossom end rot when they don't have enough calcium and we learned from experience that FoxFarm soil can be a little calcium deficient so now we add some to the box during planting to try and prevent that problem from the beginning.

Gidget checks to make sure it's up to standard.
After I put the rest of the soil on top of the calcium, I moved the box to where I wanted it. I also realized I was a little short on soil.

My very lovely neighbor.
Luckily my sweet neighbor, friend, and gardening buddy was on her porch so I was able to ask if I could use some of her soil.

Additional soil is needed after the box is full. 

The fertilizer trough
You'll want to make a trough about 2 inches deep. I went down the center on this box because I am putting 4 plants; 2 on each side into this box. If I were only putting 2 plants in, like for tomatoes, I would have made my trough towards the front edge of the box.

E.B. Stone organic tomato and vegetable food

Granular fertilizer spread evenly across the trough
EarthBox sells complete kits including the fertilizer but we like to use our own, especially because this is a replant, and we can simply use what we have on hand. We use 3 cups organic fertilizer and that is the only food the plants will need for the whole season.

Once you put your fertilizer in the trough, you'll build a mound of soil across your fertilizer strip. This is what the extra soil was for.

Then you'll put on the plastic mulch. These are cheapest online from EarthBox, and the more you buy, the less they cost so we buy them in bulk now.

I always cut my own hole for the watering tube because the pre-cut hole never seems to align properly.

4 Big Bertha peppers

Now I cut holes in the mulch that the plants will fit through, and then move the soil aside to create the right size hole to put the root balls in. When I start seeds directly in the box, I will cut a slit all the way across the plastic.

Planting peppers

Once you place your plants in, press firmly all around 

Lifting up the plastic mulch and reaching underneath to secure the soil around the plant  is easiest.

The last step is to simply water the box until water starts coming out the drainage hole. EarthBoxes are an investment up front but ours have lasted for seasons without any problems ,so I am confident we will have them for years to come. Our plants perform very well in them, so we feel the initial investment has, and will continue, to pay off.


  1. I love your Earth Boxes, Crystal!! Your garden is more and more beautiful every time I see new truly do have a MAGIC touch! And I LOVE your new gardening hat!

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