An earth-filled box is a closed system growing container. Its advantages are little evaporation of the water, an even flow of moisture to the plants in the box. Other advantages are that you can grown many more plants in a smaller space. If you're an apartment dweller, you can have 4 tomato plants growing on your deck in the space of a 3 ft. area , for instance. The reservoir only needs to be filled once a week usually, I , as an example , live out in the woods, and have limited sunlight tho plenty of land. I also have deer and other lovely forest creatures, so these boxes are a big boon to me. But the yield is so great in these earth-filled boxes, that I have friends who used to have a big garden area and now grow only their potatoes and squash out there. Plus there are NO weeds, no cut worms to worry about, etc. The system is just yet another idea that is like hydroponics or the upsidedown tomato ideas.
Supplies include 2 Rubber maid or Sterlite 18-22 gallon tubs with lids, 1 pond basket, and 1 pvc tube at least 1 1/2 inch diameter and 4 inches taller than the tub you buy.
Step 1: Cutting the Water Reservoir
Cut a hole in bottom of one of the tubs to fit the pond basket and the water tube (the pvc pipe)
Step 2: Cutting and Fitting the Reservoir Into the Primary Tub
Mark 1/3 up from the bottom of the cut tub all the way around and, using a sabre saw, cut it apart.
Place the cut apart tub bottom upside down into the whole tub. Force it in if you have to. Add the strainer into the hole you cut.
Step 3: Making the Drain Holes
Drill a water leak hole, 1/2 inch diameter, in the each side of the other tub, up 1/3 up the side of the tub.
Step 4: Placing the Water Tube Through the Lid
Take the lid and cut a hole to fit the pvc pipe.
Step 5: What Do You Want to Grow
Decide what you want to grow and cut appropriate holes in the lid. It works good for 4 tomatoes, or 8 pepper plants, or 2 tomato plants and 4 basil plants.
Now fill the tub with purchased growing soil mixed with a little aged manure and some vermiculite right to the top.(Everybody has their own mixture they like. )?Put a time release fertilizer like Osmokote down the middle of the soil top.
Add the lid and fill the reservoir with water, through the pvc pipe until water comes out the leak holes. Plant the plants in the lid holes. Don't use big plants. The smaller plants will just fit into the hole. You'll have to maneuver them into the holes carefully. They will recover.
If you're doing cukes or pole beans, just plant seeds.
The plants will not need to be watered more than once a week until late in the season, when the leaves evaporate the water, when 2 or 3 times a week water is needed.
Stake the tomatoes on the porch railing, or other trellis. I have pole beans growing up strings onto a pole.
Step 6: Enjoy and Enjoy!
Here are some of my tubs last year by the end of July in northern Michigan. I had more pepper and tomatoes that ever before. The cukes were just about the right production level, and this year I'm trying pole beans too. The first year I also grew 6 eggplants and they were wildly successful too.