I'm planting most of my garden in Earthboxes this year

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/08/im-planting-most-of-my-garde.html

I’ve heard about these and they’re definitely supposed to be great. I’ll have to check these out sometime, trying to expand my indoor garden


Watched the video and instantly got all of the grew-up-in-Oklahoma warm fuzzies from Blake. Buying a few in the hopes that they will work better than my the terra cotta pots from last year. Terra cotta loses so much moisture it’s just impossible to keep the plants watered in the high summer.


i have to agree, i’ve been using earthboxes for years and everything i’ve planted in them grows like crazy. i’ve also built a couple myself, but they never preformed as well, and one of them gave the cucumbers growing in it a really strong plastic taste that probably took a couple of months off my life with the first bite.

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Earthbox recommends a peat-based growing media. If you care about our environment, you may want to find something else. Sea Soil, perlite, leaf mold, and coconut fiber are a good mix for most food crops and the coconut fiber does a really good job in any wick style watering system.


Not so convenient, but larger scale, same principles:

And in case you’re interested in a long-lasting crop:

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Having built dozens, I’m with you on this. The Rubbermaid design is slightly larger and deeper, but the main point of DIY was a price gap. Building these, even several at a time to be more efficient, is a huge time suck. Now I think competitors have driven down the price of the Earth Box. Similar product & price but with casters, which can help you chase the sun year round:


Good links. I really prefer using gravel over a plastic tray like the earthbox has. That plastic will eventually fail but that gravel will keep being gravel longer than we’ll be around. It won’t sag, crack, or rot and if you are an earthbox owner it’s a great mod.


We live in very different environments! I like gardening in self-draining containers. :slight_smile:

I’ve considered building my own in the past but the biggest hurdle i faced was i could not figure out what approach fit me best. There’s a number of variations of designs and money was very tight and i couldn’t afford to spend money on something that wouldn’t work.

These days money is still kind of tight but i can afford to play around a bit with different setups but i haven’t worked up the nerve to try to build something. My preference would be to buy something that’s affordable that works though, might try out the Earthbox or the City Pickers one depending on which is more affordable.

Any connection to “earthing”?

If you want to try DIY check for the latest build of Earthtainer and Inntainer. Lots of cutting and drilling. No need to build their cage attachment, that’s too much work IMHO.

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These are made out of plastic, the “terracotta” refers to the colour.
(I know, I know… The blue ones are “cobalt”.)

I’m a fan of drip systems for watering my containers and beds, never tried the Earthtainer. I used to use a lot of 1/2 whiskey barrels, but it seems changes in the international booze markets have taken these out of the home centers!

Out of curiosity I’m doing a price check. Maybe unfair to set the bar at $43, that’s the Amazon link from Jason, and it’s not Prime eligible so $10 of that is shipping. The Home Depot branded “City Pickers” was $32, but I’ve found it at Lowes for $30.

Here’s the “final” EarthTainer build. The design had several advantageous tweaks over the years. There actually are some huge advantages to the EarthTainer - namely, a 7 gallon reservoir vs. 2 gallons for City Pickers and 3 gallons for the EarthBox. I could fill the EarthTainer reservoir once every two weeks for most of the year.

As of 2014 the EarthTainer instructions estimate cost of $38. But if you start doing these you become aware when the RuggedTote goes on sale and sometimes there are good deals. It can be branded as Rubbermaid or Centrex Plastics. Right now, list is almost $17, but I’ve seen deals posted for as low as $6.50.

I have also built these out of other totes. The recommended ones last longer than others I have tried, but now that I am looking at it with fresh eyes, I might want to try the build with the 27 gallon Centrex Commander tote. I have held rainwater in those and kept them outside for years now. I think they hold their shape better than the RuggedTote, but I’d have to see once all the modifications are made and it’s loaded up. I had one develop a hole on one “foot” probably from being dragged around the yard. (There’s also a 40 gallon Commander, but I don’t know if this would hold its shape after you add soil and water.) In all of these models the lids do not last as long as the bodies.

Also, the Earthtainer instructions provide for winter storage and spraying it with 303 Aerospace Protectant which I have yet to do (tsk tsk).

The main point of failure is that over time, as you swap out plants and the soil becomes more compacted (regardless of how light you built it initially), it compresses and the inner container presses out against the outer container which becomes brittle over time. The solve for this is to only grow for one season as recommended and then totally dump and start over with (re)fresh(ed), light mix. But I’ve been reluctant when plants are still producing. The outer container begins to crack at the bolt/washer. In one case I redrilled to the new alignment, and that container has survived another couple of years. If I were to attempt that 40 gallon tote… instead of two bolts to secure the two walls of inner and outer container, do four or six eyebolts facing in, and thread insulated wire in a square + X pattern + one across the width. It’s crazy but it Just Might Work.

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