At this time of year, it’s lovely to look through the catalogues and choose seeds, plants and other exciting new products to try out. While I was looking through The Organic Gardening Catalogue I spotted the EarthBox, a patented container gardening system, developed by commercial farmers, who designed it especially to offer a low maintenance, self-watering, portable method to garden and grow vegetables, even if you don’t have a garden.
I opted for the EarthBox with the green colour-way, terracotta is also available if you prefer; you can see the full range of The Organic Gardening Catalogue’s EarthBox products here.
My green EarthBox arrived with the following:
- The EarthBox trough
- The aeration screen
- A Filler tube
- Two Mulch Covers
- Four Castors
- Fertiliser and Dolomite
I am always interested in a product that’s designed to work to make life easier. Container gardening can be hard work, to have successful container grown plants, you need to tend to them regularly, watering them frequently through the summer months and any dry spells. For those who aren’t fortunate enough to have the space for a vegetable garden, the EarthBox Container Gardening system provides an option to conveniently grow a selection of fruit or vegetables on a patio or balcony. The EarthBox is a complete container growing system, it has been specially designed to make it easy to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit, helping you to achieve the maximum harvest with the minimum effort, even in a small area.
Setting up the EarthBox is simple and straightforward. Once you’ve fitted the castors (two of which have a useful lock, which will stop the EarthBox rolling away if it’s on a slope!) you slot the aeration screen into the bottom of the trough, this will provide a separate water reservoir for the watering system. The fill tube then plugs into the aeration screen, when the fill tube is fitted, it protrudes just above the top of the EarthBox rim, as you can see in the photograph below, it’s designed like this so that it’s easy to fill up the water reservoir.
Next, you add the growing medium – I’m using Dalefoot Compost’s peat-free compost to fill my EarthBox. It’s important to make sure you pack your compost firmly into the two corners of your EarthBox’s aeration screen, as the compost here will come into contact with the water in the reservoir and act as a wick, drawing the water up and into the compost above. It’s easier if you fill these two corners of your EarthBox with your compost first, firming the compost as you go, and then move on and fill the rest of your EarthBox with compost. This clever design utilises capillary action, to allow the water from the reservoir to move up into the compost and around the roots of your plants.
Once you’ve filled around 75% of the trough depth, the EarthBox instructions recommend that you add a layer of Dolomite, and then cover this with the remaining compost until it’s level with the top of the trough. The Dolomite will provide calcium and magnesium to your plants as they grow inside your EarthBox.
Finally, there’s a bag of non-water-soluble, non-slow-release granular fertiliser, the EarthBox instructions recommend that you add a strip of fertiliser along the length of the trough, which will provide sufficient nutrients for your plants for one full growing season.
Once you have the growing medium and fertiliser in place, the last step is to take one of the Mulch Covers – a sort of elasticated plastic sheet – and place it over the top of the trough. EarthBox have cleverly made their Mulch Covers dual-sided – they should be used with the white side facing upwards for hot summer climates, or the black side facing upwards if you’re gardening, like I am, in more temperate growing conditions – the dark colour of the Mulch Cover will absorb the sun’s energy and warm the compost, and the white side of the Mulch Cover will reflect the sun’s energy, helping to protect the roots of your plants from excessive heat. Red Mulch Covers are also available – these will help your tomatoes and other fruit to ripen. Each cover will last a full growing season, mine isn’t showing any signs of wear or tear as yet. Replacement covers are available and two Mulch Covers came as part of the package with my EarthBox.
The Mulch Covers are designed to protect your growing medium from drying out in summer, and from excessive rain and water-logging in autumn and winter. To check this, I partly removed my Mulch Cover from my EarthBox after some very inclement weather, to find the compost inside to have the ideal amount of moisture, whereas my other pots contained rather soggy looking compost. The Mulch Covers also help to prevent any weeds growing in your EarthBox, saving you time and energy weeding.
Now you’re ready to plant your EarthBox. To plant up your EarthBox, simply cut small holes in the Mulch Cover and plant directly through them into the compost. I chose to plant one row of Savoy Cabbage, and one row of brightly-coloured Rainbow Chard, but many fruits, vegetables and herbs will grow well in the EarthBox growing system.
With your crops planted, the only thing that remains is to position the EarthBox where you want it to grow, this is easy to do, as the EarthBox is on casters, so it’s very easy to move around.
You fill the water reservoir by pouring water into the fill tube (which protrudes out of the mulch cover) this is easily done with a watering can without a rose. The water reservoir holds a good quantity of water (I used more than a 2-gallon watering can the first time I filled it). The EarthBox is self watering and with a large water reservoir, you won’t need to top up your EarthBox’s water reservoir very often – ideal for holidays or times when you’re away from home. The EarthBox is not like traditional containers or planters, it’s much easier to maintain your plants, when you grow them using the EarthBox growing system.
The water reservoir has an overflow, so there’s no risk of filling the entire trough with water and water-logging your compost – once the reservoir is full of water, any additional water that’s added will trickle out of the overflow and onto the ground. If you want to empty your EarthBox’s water reservoir for any reason, you could simply tip the container onto its side, and the water will drain out of your EarthBox, onto the ground.
My Rainbow Chard and Savoy Cabbages are growing well in my EarthBox, I am sure that you could, if you wished, grow many vegetables, fruit and herbs in your EarthBox, even flowers if you wanted!
I’ve been impressed with my EarthBox, it’s a real blessing to have a self-watering container, especially one that’s so easy to move around. The EarthBox would make a super present for a gardener who enjoys growing vegetables, fruit or herbs. Gardeners who struggle with the difficult task of watering, either because it’s difficult physically, or due to long working hours and busy lifestyles would really benefit from using the EarthBox growing system, it’s very simple to use and is effective in the results it produces.
Other links and articles that may interest you……………………….
To visit The Organic Gardening Catalogue’s website and find out more about the Earthbox, please click here.
To see my recommended, trialled, tested, and reviewed list of gifts for gardeners for 2017, including talks and events for 2018, please click here.
To find out more about Dalefoot Composts peat-free compost and container gardening, please click here.
To read my 2016 recommended, trialled and tested gifts for gardeners, please click here.
To read my review of Burgon & Ball’s Weed Slice and Burgon & Ball’s Short Handled Weed Slice, please click here.
To find out about Wheeler Street Nurseries’s live, growing, potted Christmas Trees, please click here.
To read my review of the Trug Makers No. 7 trug, a hand-crafted trug made using traditional methods, please click here.
To read my review of Richard Mabey’s latest book, ‘The Cabaret of Plants Botany and The Imagination’, please click here.
To read my review of Kathryn Aalto’s new book ‘The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, please click here.
To read my review of the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Pearl Oyster Mushroom and Hot Pink Mushroom growing kits, (yes, you really can grow your own delicious, pink mushrooms indoors!) please click here.
To read my review of Louise Curley’s latest book, ‘The Crafted Garden’, ideal if you’re looking for some simple, yet effective crafting ideas , please click here.
To read my review of the My Kitchen Food Dehydrator from Lakeland, please click here.
To read my review of the BiOrbAir, a specialised, automated terrarium from Reef One that features an ultra sonic misting unit and automatic watering system, please click here.
To read my review of Lakeland’s Apple Master, an amazing device that peels, cores and slices apples in super quick time, please click here.
To read my review of Stephen Woodham’s latest book, ‘Garden Design Solutions: Ideas for Outdoor Spaces’, please click here.
To read my review of the Garden Girl Rain Poncho, an adjustable, waterproof poncho with a pretty, floral design, please click here.
To read my review of the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Wild Flower Tea Seedbombs, please click here.
To read my interview with David Neale, an award winning Garden Designer based in Guildford in Surrey, please click here.
To read the results of my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
If you’re looking for reputable suppliers of snowdrop bulbs, sold ‘in the green’, please click here.
For gardening advice of what you could do at your allotment or in your garden from mid-November until mid-December, please click here.
For gardening advice of what you could do in your garden or at your allotment from mid-December until mid-January, please click here.