No time/space for a garden? Use the EarthBox! April 6, 2011

Have you heard of the EarthBox growing system? It’s very popular.  For those of you who haven’t heard of the EarthBox, it’s a self-contained, self-watering growing system. The EarthBox uses wick hydroponics; soil works to stabilize plants and “wick” water to the roots. You can grow tons of delicious, fresh produce in a small space. No garden – no problem!

We all know that eating fresh veggies is good for you.  We also know that prices are SO HIGH for the best produce.  The  Earthbox is the PERFECT solution.  You Charlottesvillians can purchase one (as well as the plants you’d like to grow in it) at Snow’s Garden Center at 1875 Avon Street Extended.   Here are the basic elements of the EarthBox:

A few selling features of the EarthBox:

  • Self-contained, so you can garden even without a plot of land to till.
  • Conserves water (up to 60%) and is low-maintenance (water every 2-3 days).
  • Small container for the amount of yield produced.
  • Covered so weeds and pests are deterred and water doesn’t evaporate in the hot sun.

You’ll have everything you need except for the plants for $60 if you purchase the Earthbox.  But, if you’d like to be adventuresome and use your engineering prowess, I’ve got some do-it-yourself instructions for you.

I found this DIY makeshift version.  It does generally the same thing as the Earthbox once you’ve completed building it.  It does a great job at yielding TONS of veggies!

The DIY version we’re going to make has a couple minor negatives:

  • It’s pretty heavy, so make sure the box is essentially in place before you fill with soil and water. You do, however, have the benefit of more growing space as this is larger than the original system. The original Earth Box has castors for easy relocation, but I haven’t adapted that to this version.
  • By some standards, it’s not as pretty as the commercial Earth Box. However, that could be modified using a more fashionable container/cover system.

However, for the me the positives of the DIY version outweigh the negatives:

  • Much more cost effective, especially when compared to the organic version of the EarthBox.
  • Larger growing space and water reservoir than the original Earth Box.
  • I have the freedom to modify any of the components.
  • The yield compared to space is incredible. Our tomato plants grew to nearly 8 feet while only using a couple square feet of floor space. This makes our boxes fantastic for patio gardening or for those with limited growing space.

Enough of the talk, let’s get to work. There are several other DIY methods out there, but after much consideration, this is the method I decided to take (with the help and consult of my hubby). My supplies consisted of the following:


  1. Drill and 1/4-1/2″ bits
  2. A cutting tool to modify your grating system (scissors and a Dremel, if you have one) to cut down a plastic ceiling grate.


  1. Zip ties
  2. Waterproof covering material (Igarbage bags work)

3. A container (I’ve had an empty rubbermaid container in my garage forever, so I used it)

4. A sheet of rigid grate (plastic ceiling grate works – you can get it at Lowes)

5. About two feet of 1″ pipe and 6 pieces (6″ long) of 4-6″ pipe (also at Lowes if you need it)

6. Loosely woven burlap (The roots need to be able to push through – ideally, you can reuse a bag from potatoes, coffee or a Virginia ham :)  If not, you can get recycled burlap several places online or at your local fabric store)

7. Fertilizer (Buy LOCAL – Snows Garden Center has it)

8. Lime (Buy LOCAL – Snows Garden Center has it)

9. Potting soil

10. Compost (optional)  (Buy LOCAL – Snows Garden Center has it)

Follow these steps to create your own fabulous EarthBox

This is my EarthBox after a week of growth, and the plants seem to be liking their new home.

Most of this detailed information is from Cultivating ConscienceA channel to share the struggles and achievements we all experience in caring for ourselves, Earth, and its inhabitants.

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