Crazy Garden Recipe That Works

A while back a good friend of mine, John Starnes, told me about this great way to get garden areas amended and ready for planting.  Its a crazy method but I’ve used it and it works.  I’m getting ready to try it again in my new house.You’ll get a lot of crazy looks but you cant argue with success.  Florida soil is very sandy.  The “recipe” fixes that!

Here’s the recipe for a 10×10 garden plot.

1 50 lb bag of cheap dog food

1 50 lb bag of alfalfa pellets

40  lbs of unscented, non clumping cheap cat litter.

1 bale of hay

enough cardboard to cover the entire area.  It can be in pieces, just tile the area with cardboard after performing the following steps.

Add the dog food, alfalfa pellets and cat litter to the area and distribute evenly with a rake.  Water it until evenly moist. Tile the entire area with the cardboard. Water cardboard.  Cover the cardboard with the hay.  Water again until the hay lays down a little.

Keep it moist and wait at least 2 months before you plant.  The cardboard should have disintegrated,  And you plant your veggies right in the soil that remains.  Leave what ever is left of the hay for mulch.

This method works fantastic for tomatos, beans, peppers, melons and more!

If you want to add more compost fine but not really necessary.  You can turn it a bit when ready to plant or not..   It works like a dream.  Will add pictures when i’m done with the project!

Florida Living Gardening

Spring Earthbox Planting

Hi Folks!
The Earthbox is planted! The spring selection is Roma tomatoes, a bell pepper plant and 6 Romain lettuce babies. Looks pretty good! This shot is immediately after planting. earthbox march 2010

Six days after planting, the lettuce has hardened up a bit and everything looks happy. 


Earth Box Project Lettuce Continues

Update March 29 2010…

Since this article was written in October last year,  I’ve relocated.  There is a newer post on  my Spring Earth Box HERE

Another note is that when I visited my old house the other day where the below project was undertaken, I was amazed to see lettuce growing EVERYWHERE!  I had let a couple of the plants go to seed and boy did they seed!  There was romaine in every sidewalk crack and covering the area where the old earthbox project lived!  Scroll down for more about the October planting.

The Earth Box Project Lettuce is growing nicely.  The first photo shows the Earth Box, 10 days after planting tiny fragile lettuce seedlings. The second photo shows the lettuce thriving 8 days later. At this rate, I should be eating my first salad in a week!

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09
Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09

A comment I received on the original Earth Box Article asked if I’d ever tried the “Grow Box.” Grow_Box_Tomato_Self_WateringI followed his link and found that the grow box is very similar to the Earth Box, with a few improvements. A larger water reservoir, and the water fill area is actually part of the box, rather than a standpipe. Looks like a nice improvement and the price is about 10 less than the Earth Box. You can check it out here.  Just checked out this site for updates and I’ll tell you one thing folks.. the price on the Grow Box is pretty good.  Just sent a friend to their website to buy one.

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-14-09
Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-14-09

Since writing this post, I’ve found a home made variation that is very intriguing! tgi-earthtainer-1Ray Newstead, an heirloom tomato grower found the Earth Box not quite strong enough to support some of his larger tomato plants. He set out to create a variation. He calls it the “Earth Tainer ” tm.  Here is a link to the detailed building plans on his website  here. It looks strong and fairly easy to build. Check it out ! I can’t wait to build one! Here is a photo of an Earth Tainer TM Farm.

Gardening Green Products

Ever Tried an Earth Box?

I bought my first earth box a few years ago. Since then i have planted it several times and I’m always amazed at the speed at which things grow, and the crop yield from vegetables, tomatoes and peppers mainly. The Earth Box is a hybrid hydroponic system, utilizing both soil, and an undersoil water resevoir. It is always watered from a tube inserted into the water resevoir. The results always amaze me.

I’ve often wondered why the earth box folk, never modified or enhanced their original creation. So I decided to try some experiments with some inexpensive plastic pots, within pots.

Wow.. i was on to something! Results were totally amazing. Of course I now WISH I’d documented it with some pictures, but alas, i didn’t have the foresight to forsee this moment. However I am going to start documenting my current earth box crop:fast growing Romaine lettuce (planted 10 days Ago.)

Home Depot, supplied the romaine, tiny ones in the 6 up container. They are considerably more robust, 10 days later, very fragile when i planted them. They’ve actually withstood quite a bit of rain and all that comes with it, and hardened up nicely.

Here is a first of shot so you get the gist of it.

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09
Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09

The tall plant in the left back is a jalapeno pepper plant, planted at the same time. I figured it could stay through a few lettuce crops. I plan to photo the box every 7 days to document its growth speed so stay tuned!

Gardening in Florida! Fall, is really our best growing season. I anticipate it as much as i anticipate spring. So many garden plants are burdened by the heat at this time of year, and a lot we are saying good bye too till they surprise us next spring.. I will miss my caladiums!

I’m dying to know other earth box fans out there. And I’d love to share my earthbox variation with you! In the mean time while i’m setting up the experiment, you can follow the real earth box “Project Lettuce” to see this concept work! We’ve only got the wire frame (from my summer tomatoes) to measure by at the moment, but i shall fix that!

Looking forward to getting to know some new friends that love plants and gardening. I occasionally post gardening articles Here