I am doing a short little series here on the blog about first time gardeners. These posts will be different in that they won’t include a video. Instead, we’ll share photos and information about several first time gardeners who all have started their gardens in different ways and for different reasons. Hopefully, you’ll see a little of yourself in their stories.
Maria and I have been friends for several years now. She and I have daughters the same age and we have found that rare blessing in that we are great friends, our kids are great friends, and our husbands are great friends. We often travel on vacation with them and they are truly a treasure. Maria is the type of person that, when she decides to do something, she goes for it. She doesn’t spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over details, she simply jumps in with both feet.
She recently expressed interest in starting a vegetable garden, and so on one of our “playdates” I looked over her area to determine what the best site was for a garden. They live in a beautiful neighborhood at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, but one challenge is that there is a layer of granite about a foot down all over their property. When the pool was dug, and their citrus trees planted, the workers had to use jack hammers to get through the granite in order to dig. Now, she has a great pool, a few citrus trees and an awesome putting green in her backyard, but not a ton of usable gardening space.
That’s when I had a revelation. Anyone who has ever told me, or written to me saying that they want to garden but just don’t have the space, you have lost your last excuse.
Enter, the Earthbox. A self watering, self fertilizing garden in a box. You wouldn’t believe how much you can grow in one of these little babies!!
She chose to buy the trellis attachment for her Earthbox so that we could train the cucumbers that we planted up the trellis.
The Earthbox is on casters, so it can roll anywhere you want it. You simply fill it with soil per the directions, make a trench for the fertilizer (you can use organic,) cover the fertilizer with soil, and plant your veggies. Then, you fill the reservoir with water everyday and plants get just the amount of water and fertilizer that they need. You can’t overfill the reservoir because any excess comes out the overflow slot. One important piece of information for Arizona/desert gardeners is DO NOT use the plastic mulches that come with the Earthbox! They will turn the Earthbox into an oven and fry your plants. Now, you know how much I love mulching, so it pains me to say this, but the plastic mulch that makes all the difference for gardeners in cooler climates, will ruin your success in the desert. I think if you used a natural mulch like woodchips or straw, you wouldn’t have a problem, but the plastic is too much.
In Maria’s Earthbox garden, we planted 1 yellow pear cherry tomato, zucchini, asian cucumbers, sweet basil, chives, thyme, cilantro and jalapeno’s. All of that in about 2 1/2 sq. ft.!!! A tip for making it easier to plant nursery starts into your Earthbox (you can grow from seed directly in the container if you want,) is to swish the roots of the plants gently in a bucket of water to wash off all the soil so that they are easier to fit into the compact space. All the plants can thrive in close quarters because the Earthbox design allows all the plants to get all the water and nutrients they need! A productive garden in a small, portable space. No excuses people!
I have owned an Earthbox for 2 years now and love it. I bought one when we lived in our condo so that I could scratch my gardening itch and provide some fresh produce for my family during that time. Now that I live on a larger property, the Earthbox still provides a reliable harvest every season.
Maria and I both bought our Earthboxes locally at Summer Winds Nursery in order to save on shipping cost. They cost around $60 and include the fertilizer and dolomite (a calcium supplement to prevent blossom end rot,) so I think it is a good value. The trellis attachment is an extra cost, but it is very easy to use and assemble. There are plenty of plans to make your own self watering containers on the internet if you are so inclined, but sometimes its nice to have a pre-packaged, aesthetically pleasing product. Remember, your Earthbox will last many seasons, so the cost is mitigated the longer you use it! I had so much fun planting Maria’s garden with her and her munchkins, I can’t wait to watch it grow and produce!
(I have no affiliation or financial arrangement with Earthbox. The opinions I share about their product are my own, established over several seasons of use. If Earthbox would like to advertise on my site or send me free stuff, I wouldn’t complain.)
Here are Maria’s answers to the questions I asked
Have you ever grown vegetables before? I have never grown veggies before or anything else for that matter.Why did you decide to start a garden this season? I decided to start a garden as I have changed my eating habits and introduced more of a raw food diet in my life. What are you most looking forward to harvesting from your garden? I can’t wait for the cucumbers, tomatoes and jalapeno to sprout:) What tips would you give another first time gardener? I look forward to reading the tips that others will post for 1st time gardeners:)
For more posts from first time gardeners, click here.