Step 3: Fill with dirt, water, and plants!

Picture of Fill with dirt, water, and plants!
Remember, use a cheap potting mix. You can try using a layer of fertilizer put down first right on the shelf, tell me if it works out! Get it really packed into the rigid cups, and get that soil soaking wet to make sure there are no air bubbles there.

Make sure to have the container where you want it to sit before filling the water reservoir, or it will be crazy heavy.

I planted coffee plants, and tea, stevia, and jalapeno seeds in here, I'll post the results in a few weeks.

Make sure to put a black garbage bag over the top once your plants are big enough to peek over the surface of it. Cut X's in it for the plants to poke through, and use what's left of the lid to secure the bag. This will conserve water, keep the soil more moist, and maybe keep things a little warmer.

You can be cool like me and add a grow light. I'm going to experiment with LEDs in the future, and you should too, since they're awesome.

Good luck, and I hope you've enjoyed my first instructable!

-Does anyone think an aquarium airstone and pump in the reservoir would make a difference?
-Also, if a hydroponic medium if used in place of dirt, do you think this setup would make a good wicking system? What mediums would wick enough to do this? I've heard that using a rope wick leads to clogging and crystallization and suspect that this wouldn't be as much as an issue if the wick was two 3-inch columns of the medium itself.

Comments welcome!
krys.cromwell8 months ago

I've used hydroponic medium, unglazed clay balls, with a layer of screen or weed fabric and soil on top. It wicks really well, but the medium can be a bit pricey. Using an airstone will keep the water from getting stagnant and keep nutrients mixed in.

applesause6 years ago
I use synthetic (gasp!) fabric to wick the water into my African violet plants- it will last for years and the roots grow right into and through it. An old blanket (recycle!), as long as it is a synthetic fiber, works well. (natural fiber rots) You can drape it from the soil area into the water and it works as a wick-this would also keep soil in place along the edges . The plastic bases from spring garden potted plant sales works with the pots holding them above the water area.
bucklipe6 years ago
By the way, I would use some weed block fabric on top of the shelf and up the side of the box. This would hold the potting mix. Cut holes where the wicking holes are.
bucklipe6 years ago
I have used EB's for ten years. The fertilizer is to be put in the top of the potting mix by running your finger back and forth to make a trough. It needs to be equally distant from the plants. Put in the fertilizer and cover with the mix. The plants roots will seek out the nutrients. The airstone won't hurt or be necessary since the oxygenation is accomplished by the overflow hole and the gap between the potting mix and the top of the water. The black plastic is used for two things. The first is to keep the potting mix moist. The second is to keep the fertilizer from being washed down into the water if the unit is exposed to the rain. The potting mix is mounded a bit so that the rain would run off the plastic, not a problem if it is used inside. I've built very large versions for outside use. I like this one for inside use!
Ned Kelly6 years ago
I like the idea might build one myself, BUT I am concerned about algae growing , in my opinion the box should be light proofed or buy a dark coloured box
Elegant comment: If the plant bed was actually another container within, this would afford ability to disassemble the bed and reservoir without uprooting the plants Aeration comment: could use a solar powered pump to recirculate the water. One I bought online a while back runs if enough light available. Twist: water feature. take the pump to trickle water about a statuary type element. this also provides a place to dump water in to replenish the water. automated rewater: using a float system, connect a hose to a hose bib always on. if the water drops enough, more water is added. some are made already for animal water tanks. but size of those would be too much for this example
mcknn7 years ago
I'm going to try and build this tomorrow, hope it works!
sxholt7 years ago
Ever try silicone instead of duct tape?
gjm7 years ago
Adding an airstone and airpump wouldn't be a bad idea. It would add oxygen to the water and the root zone. Everything I've read about hydroponics talks about getting ozygen to the roots.
Thanks for the great instructions. These are the most simple and (I think) closest to the original EB. I have one made. Big Lots and Dollar Gen.were a help with low cost parts. I did put a wicking basket in the center instead of cups. My local nursery has potting mix in 50LB bags for 13.00. I got Perlite for the wicking basket. I will add lime to the potting mix and add a row of fertalizer on top. I can taste the maters now!
TomMelee7 years ago
You want perlite---it wicks crazy awesomely. Somewhere out there is an instructable using a 2L bottle, an aquarium pump, and a timer to make a flood and drain system using the same basic setup you have here.