Help for the Urban Garden
When you live in a city or in a location with a small or no yard, you don’t typically think you can have a small garden. There’s the concern for space, needing a yard to plant in the ground, and how to keep things watered. I had these concerns but have found a solution and have had success using each season. They are called Earthboxes and I wanted to share my experience with them. Note: I am not affiliated in any way with Earthbox. What I’m sharing below is based on my experience using their garden solution.
What are Earthboxes?
According to the Earthbox website:
The EarthBox® Gardening System was developed by commercial farmers to accommodate the needs of the average home gardener. It's a unique, sub-irrigated planter designed to be used by anyone - from 4 years old to 94 - to grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit without having a traditional, in-ground garden.
The boxes are made of durable materials that last through many seasons. They can support two tomato plants or a whole row of green beans. Over the years, they have added additional boxes like the junior box which is great for lettuces or even growing herbs indoors and the root box which is a little taller to support growing root vegetables like carrots.
When you buy an Earthbox, you get all of the parts to assemble your box (which is very easy to do). You can also order your soil and fertilizer packs as well. If you’d rather buy on your own, that works just fine. The magic of the Earthbox is in the box itself.
How do Earthboxes Work?
Earthboxes have a tray that sit on the bottom of the box. The gap below the tray serves as the water reservoir for the box. The tray has openings so the soil touches the reservoir and “waters” the box from the bottom. There is a tube that runs to the top of the box for easy watering.
After you put your box together, add your soil and fertilizer, you use the tube to fill up the reservoir. There are holes in the bottom of the box that prevents overwatering. Once the reservoir is filled the soil starts soaking up the water. This watering system is reason one why Earthboxes work. The reservoir keeps the soil moist even in warm conditions. All you need to do is fill the reservoir every few days. In the hotter days of summer when the plants are big and producing vegetables, you may need to water each day but the system is a little forgiving if you miss a watering.
The second reason Earthboxes work are the covers you put on top of the box. When you plant your seedlings, you cut out holes in the covers for your plants and wrap around the top of the box. The covers are black on one side and white on the other. If you live in hot climates, you use the white side and in variable climates, you use the dark side. While these covers help keep weeds and animals out of the boxes, their main purpose is to keep the water from evaporating into the air. This keeps the soil moist for the plants to use.
Once you have your boxes together, mother nature does her thing to help your garden be successful!
Success Through Challenges
I’ve had a lot of success using Earthboxes. In the cool months of early spring, the dark covers absorb the heat from the sun to keep the soil warm to accelerate growth. Even though some days when I thought my young plants might not survive the cold temps, they have made it. And, during the dog days of August when temps are 100+, my plants are able to balance the use of the water in the reservoir to get through the heat without drying out.
There are many self-watering systems available and you can certainly make your own. I haven’t seen ones that are easy to put together and that you can kind of set out to grow and leave them alone. Many of my friends and family who have small gardens also use Earthboxes with success.
If you are in a tight space and don’t have a lot of time to tend to a garden, you should take a look at Earthboxes. You might be able to have that garden you’ve wanted.