Container gardening: Earthbox vs Rubbermaid Tote



Does rubbermaid use food grade material? Im sure it is “fine”, but why take the risk if the cost difference is only $20? To me, the rubber/plastic kind of negates a lot of the spirit of gardening any way.

Is it not possible for a community garden or some other option in you neighborhood?

I plant in containers because it works better than planting in the ground.

Also, overall I am not sure there is a reason to go cheaper other than you want to. We’ll see if there is a difference in growing these strawberries, There likely won’t be. I think there is for vegetables that like deeper beds (the Rubbermaid seems to work well for them.)

I think the Earthboxes last for years and the Rubbermaid stuff deteriorates at variable rates depending on environmentals. I think for the $20 you can go either way. I know the Rubbermaid is making more plastic debris over the long term, but i also use recycled plastic bits for the innards.

I am not concerned with the food grade ness of it at this point. So little of my food gets grown in those boxes.

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Interesting experiment! I’m doing something similar at my university, and food-grade vs non has been a big question-mark for me. Luckily I have access to a mass-spectrometer so I’ll be able to actually figure out the practical difference in the macromineral and trace metal content of the food.


That’s what I was wondering… and where exactly is the deteriorated plastic/rubber going… the water, the soil, the plants, your mouth? I’m kind of with you about the not worrying about it (I’m betting something else is going to do me in before plastic toxins), but just knowing it might be in there turns me off of the experience.

Similarly… I’m a brewer like yourself, and I’m surprised by the amount of folks who mash 160 degree water in igloo coolers. I wouldn’t care to drink that stuff when I have better alternatives all around me.

High fives to yourself and @jlw, brewing is fun :). Igloo mash tuns are okay, but they break down fast. Stainless is your friend.

Regarding planting material, I have a bunch of Rubbermaid containers from moving and they just don’t hold up. I gave up on plastic and simply use half barrels (oak) for my container garden. You can’t do hydroponics without an insert (which have lasted me ten+ years), buy for soil they are great.

For automated watering I am a fan of 9volt powered hose valves, with drip irrigation. The batteries last 6 months or so, the units are inexpensive, and work almost anywhere.

For seedlings I converted a shower in my bathroom into an led powered grow room (only veg and legal herbs :smiley: ). It uses 210 watts and the tomatoes/artichokes/pumpkins etc are going nuts.

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I don’t water my garden. Also I don’t till. Or buy soil. Or use fertilizer. I rarely weed. Yet, I got abundant produce last year. In fact I got hundreds of tomatoes, three different kinds, and I didn’t even plant any (the compost was running a little cold I guess). So I’m a little confused about this “works better” part!

Yes. But look, you need to get the endocrine disruptors and pseudo-estrogens everyone else is getting, or we can’t evolve into the New Soviet Man. Oh, wait, I meant the Post-Singularity Man. Or is that outdated now too? Whatever. Tea Party Man. Anyway, if you want your grandchildren to have the same spiffy green tentacles as everyone else, it’s important to eat the plastics, and frankly it’s too late to stop now. Stay the course!

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I made a slew of Rubbermaid planters but they didn’t have UV protection and all crumbled after a couple seasons. If there are UV-resistant bins, I’d try it again, but my Earthboxes have survived almost ten years with no damage. I’m very satisfied.


When i lived in Arizona planting in the ground was a non starter, literally. Hydroponics worked like a champ with a south facing window though. Here in Oregon (willamette valley) the soil is so rich and nice you can’t recreate it in a container.

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I always think that something equivalent could be made using plastic food grade barrels. They are often available for about $15 because they are not recycled. It would be wasteful to return barrels empty. I guess unless people buy the used barrels they go into a shredder and recycled that way.

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All other things being equal, dark coloured plastic will have better UV resistance. I’ve had uncoloured HDPE tubs become brittle and break after less than one year (even in the somewhat grey climate of northern England)- the black HDPE tubs I replaced them with have lasted two years so far and are still flexible.

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