Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

Have a great invention to help with gardening? Are you the self-reliant type that prefers Building It Yourself vs. buying it? Share and discuss your ideas and projects with other members.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old February 15, 2006   #1
timcunningham
Tomatovillian™
 
timcunningham's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 241
Default Homemade selfwatering containers.

Also called Homemade Earthboxes. They are a little extra work to make than using a 5 gal bucket or a grow bag, but they really do a fantastic job of delivering consistant watering. When I run out of 'in ground' space I make more of these (Instruction link below). Right now I have 20 of them. In the summer they mostly contain tomatoes, a couple with herbs. In the winter they hold collards, brocolli, lettuce and herbs. This year I have about 5 people supplying me materials to make one for them. They also seem more willing to take my tomato seedlings when I explain that they only thing they need to do is top up the reseviour every other day.

Has any one else made their own Selfwatering containers? http://www.josho.com/Earthbox.htm is the design I followed. Do you have a better design?

Thanks
timcunningham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15, 2006   #2
Emaewest
Tomatovillian™
 
Emaewest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Timberlea, Nova Scotia
Posts: 84
Default

Hi Tim! I made one homemade EB last year and loved it, so I've been making more this year as a winter project.

The only major difference between the design in the link and the one I used is that instead of cutting one of the totes in half and inverting it, I used a smaller tote and just nested inside the big one. This keeps the sides from bulging out once it's filled with soil. Otherwise, it's basically the same.

Have you noticed that the quality of Rubbermaid containers is diminishing, while the price seems to increase? The totes I've picked up recently are almost see-through, compared with the relatively sturdy and rigid ones I bought only last year, and they cost about $1-$2 more each.
__________________
Rhonda

"Some people have a way with words, and other people... not have way." ---Steve Martin
Emaewest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15, 2006   #3
timcunningham
Tomatovillian™
 
timcunningham's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 241
Default

Hi Emaewest,

A smaller Tote, that is a good idea! I will try it this year. I have noticed that with Rubbermaid. I saw a documentary on Rubbermaid's relationship with walmart and now I understand why. Wallmart basically put them out of business. http://www.usatoday.com/money/indust...rtnation_x.htm

The documentary may or may not present all the facts, but Rubbermaid now makes everything overseas, and it seems the quality has suffered.
timcunningham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 26, 2006   #4
MsCowpea
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: S. FLorida / Zone 10
Posts: 350
Default

I have used a similar design I got from username Dreamster a few years back. He used cut-up black drainage pipe and you did not have to use electrical ties to connect it to the box. In that sense it was much easier. Will post photos if I can find them or take some new ones.

I have done 5 gal. containers pretty much like the one on the site. Not sure mine gives an adequate water reservoir though.

I have mostly used two whole totes whenever I make them but I think the inverted box is a neat idea -- you don't have to cut the lid up to make the bottom separating the soil from water. I think I will try that one of these days. The pictures and instructions on Josh's site are great.

Real earthboxes are still my favorite--they last longer in the sun.
__________________

"When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest we inherit their work."
Carl Huffaker
MsCowpea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 26, 2006   #5
Emaewest
Tomatovillian™
 
Emaewest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Timberlea, Nova Scotia
Posts: 84
Default

I would love to have a real EarthBox, but the EarthBox company won't ship to Canada, and the only place that will ship them here charge $19 for shipping, on top of the $39.95 cost. So, that's almost $60 before translating it into Canadian funds.

I'm sure they're worth every penny, I just don't have that many pennies. :wink:
__________________
Rhonda

"Some people have a way with words, and other people... not have way." ---Steve Martin
Emaewest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 26, 2006   #6
cthomato
Tomatovillian™
 
cthomato's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: SoCal z10
Posts: 96
Default

Emaewest - you should try Tim's design (see earlier post in this thread). It doesn't take too long to do and I'm all thumbs. It'll save you alot of those pennies.

And thank you Tim!! Great directions!
I owe you one. Let me know if you ever need seeds.
cthomato is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 26, 2006   #7
cthomato
Tomatovillian™
 
cthomato's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: SoCal z10
Posts: 96
Default

OOPS! Sorry, Emaewest, I didn't see your earlier post.
cthomato is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 28, 2006   #8
timcunningham
Tomatovillian™
 
timcunningham's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 241
Default

Emma,

I have had both a "real" earthbox and the home made ones. I prefer the homemade ones. My biggest problem with the EBox is the I have to refill it so often. In the hot South Gerogia Sun, you really need to fill it twice a day. There is roughly about 2 gallons of water in the tank on the purchased eboxes. My homemade ones I have been able to store about 5 gallons of water, which will just barely last for a long weekend if you want to go somewhere and not worry about the tomatoes while you are gone.
__________________
Visit my site: tomatoindex.com a database of over 2700 varieties. Vote for your favorite.
timcunningham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 28, 2006   #9
MsCowpea
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: S. FLorida / Zone 10
Posts: 350
Default

Tim, that is a good point. You sure have to fill EBs all the time. When the plants are big if you miss a day they are wilted the next. No way you could go away for 3 or 4 days.
__________________

"When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest we inherit their work."
Carl Huffaker
MsCowpea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #10
Emaewest
Tomatovillian™
 
Emaewest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Timberlea, Nova Scotia
Posts: 84
Default

Tim: that's good to know. I won't feel so bad about not having the "real" thing.

Some folks elsewhere were discussing the "new and improved" EarthBox. They come in different colours, have a larger reservoir with a shut off valve (? I think I'm remembering this right) and they have spots to attach casters to the bottom. That's all I can recall offhand. The price went up, too.

I think it's a good invention, but I find the website really cheesy. It reads like a bad infomercial.
__________________
Rhonda

"Some people have a way with words, and other people... not have way." ---Steve Martin
Emaewest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #11
creister
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Abilene, TX zone 7
Posts: 1,471
Default

How do you all fertilize them. I saw in josh's directions something about a fertilizer strip. Is there alternatives to using these and still growing successfully? What about adding lime or dolomite? Why must you add these for tomatoes?

I only ask because I have never used any type of earthbox before. I am expanding into using containers as my garden is not large and I want to grow more varieties of tomatoes.
creister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #12
MsCowpea
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: S. FLorida / Zone 10
Posts: 350
Default

The alternate to the fertilizer strip (which is usually something like 6-6-6 or 10-10-10 or any number as long as it is below 15 --according to the Earthbox instructions) is to use organic (granular) fertilizer.

The earthbox holds 75 quarts potting mix -you are supposed to use a strip of 2 cups of regular fert. or 3 cups if you are using an organic fertilizer ( I believe they say to mix that kind into the mix).

Dolomite is a source of calcium and also moderates pH of peat-based mixes.
__________________

"When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest we inherit their work."
Carl Huffaker
MsCowpea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #13
clay199
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Beyond Hope, British Columbia
Posts: 201
Default

Using these earthboxes, do you put one single plant in one or can you put more?
clay199 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #14
timcunningham
Tomatovillian™
 
timcunningham's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 241
Default

Clay - Purchased earthboxes say that you can put two tomatoes per box. This is true, but since I am making them and they are much cheaper than buying them, I tend to only put one per box, and I also buy bigger containers than the earthboxes. I want to give my tomato roots *lots* of room to roam. I did experience much better yields from the homemade boxes that only had one plant per box. That being said, if it comes down to not planting a new variety and not putting a second plant in the box... I will put a second plant in the box.

creister- adding a cup of lime to the soil is recommended for tomatoes, since potting soil tends to be somewhat neutral in ph. Tomatoes like a higher PH, and like the calcium. As far as fertilzer goes... I put a strip of two cups of 10-10-10 fertilzer in a row, the furthest from where I place tomatoes.

However, I against all that the earthbox says I do add some "Miracle Grow, Blue stuff" to the water. I add two scoops once a week when the plants seem to stall in growth or flower production. I don't know why the folks at eBox say NOT to add "blue stuff", maybe it effects the wicking properities of the soil, but I have never seen any undue effect from it.

The biggest benefit I can see from using a homemade earthbox compared to any other container (or in ground plants for that matter) is this:

Consistant watering

The soil only wicks as much water as it needs.

The roots only take as much water as it wants.

The reservoir will supply both of these as long as it doesn't go dry.

And from what I have read about tomatoes, the biggest problems with tomatoes come from inconsistant watering.

Blossom End rot: Comes from extremes in soil moisture.. too moist or too dry - cause calcium deficiency.

Cracking: Too little water, followed by to much water.

Yellowing of leaves, wilting, root rot, blackening of leaves, fruit drop.. all caused by inconsistant watering.

A secondary benefit, is NO WEEDING!

Also if you find the area you picked gets not enough / too much sun, you can move the box.

And despite what some people say you don't need to grow dwarf varieties or determinates in a box. I grow only indeterminates (save for Silvery Fir Tree which I grow to get tomatoes before anyone else) and they all grow to a freakishly large size. These plants are 8 to 10 feet tall! Small children have gotten lost in them! There is a troop of boyscouts still missing in the Cherokee Purple! I can see their little camp fires now..


Okay, sorry I get carried away.

Selfwatering containers are a very sensible way to utilize space. Any questions?

__________________
Visit my site: tomatoindex.com a database of over 2700 varieties. Vote for your favorite.
timcunningham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1, 2006   #15
Mischka
Tomatoville® Administrator
 
Mischka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Bay State
Posts: 3,167
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by timcunningham

Okay, sorry I get carried away.
I don't think so at all.

This thread has great potential to help those that are interested in "Earthbox" type container growing.

If anyone has pictures of their homemade Earthboxes, I'd like to see them, too.

I went to one of those "Lot" type stores and noticed they carry a large assortment of large plastic containers. I hesitated to purchase any, for two reasons.

1. They appeared to be thinner walled, compared to Rubbermaid branded ones. I am going to bring my micrometer to measure them, next trip.

2. The available colors were medium blue and clear. Not sure either are good choices.

I also wonder if the Earthbox people have the plastic company add UV stabilizers to their molded plastic? This makes a big difference in withstanding sunlight-related decomposition.
__________________
Mischka


One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress.


Whenever you visit my grave,

say to yourselves with regret

but also with happiness in your hearts

at the remembrance of my long happy life with you:


"Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved."


No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you,

and not all the power of death

can keep my spirit

from wagging a grateful tail.
Mischka is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:17 AM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2017 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★