Florida Kindergarteners Grow Their Own Veggies
Though Melissa Varady teaches in the rural area of Micanopy, Florida, most of the children in her kindergarten class had very little experience with plants and gardening. Since research indicates that children who grow healthy produce will eat what they grow, improve their academic skills, and learn the connectivity of all things in nature, Ms. Varady decided that growing vegetables with her class was important.
Ms. Varady's Kindergarten class with their EarthBoxes
"I was extremely fortunate to have had a parent write a gardening grant for my class," says Ms. Varady. It soon became evident that the soil behind Ms. Varady's classroom wouldn't get enough sunlight, so the grant writer had the bright idea of creating movable container gardens. After researching the topic, she wrote some EarthBoxes into the grant.
"The EarthBoxes turned out to be absolutely perfect!" Varady reports. "They were simple for students to put together, and so far our plants are doing excellent. I particularly love them because I don't have to worry about weekend watering!" The original garden plan included strawberries, tomatoes, garlic, peas, collards, and squash.
When she got the EarthBoxes, Ms. Varady was pleased to discover an unexpected bonus: an extra Ready To Grow Kit, the result of winning our Educator's Monthly Drawing. "After doing an excellent activity from the Pre-School through Grade 1 Site Package where my students made seed "clocks" to observe the effects of gravity, we decided to plant our extra EarthBox with sunflowers, which are the crop of focus in the Pre-School curricula."
Their garden has only been planted for a month, and most of their vegetables are in the beginning stages. However, Ms. Varady delightedly reports, "Our first batch of lettuce is doing so well we're planning a salad party for Saint Patrick's Day! My students can't wait to taste what we've grown. We also plan to have a mini-farmer's market in two months to share our produce with the community.
"At first, I thought that just a few small plants wouldn't grow enough produce for our farmer's market, but after viewing testimonials and seeing the results with our lettuce, I'm confident that we'll have an excellent harvest!"
Our New EarthBox
We'd like to remind you of the recent launch of our EarthBox Education newsletter, which is dedicated to news about Earthbox in the classroom, the community and internationally. We invite you to subscribe to this bi-monthly newsletter, so you can keep abreast of what's happening in the EarthBox Education realm. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Click on "Update Profile/Email Address" at the bottom of this newsletter.
- Enter your email address in the field provided and click Submit.
- An email with the subject line "Update your profile" will be sent to you. Open it and click on the "Update your profile" link.
- Select the "Education Newsletter" box in the left column.
- Click "Save Profile Changes."
Grab Some Free Goodies!
Want to win an EarthBox gift certificate? Just send us your best EarthBox-related recipe or article, and you might find yourself a winner.
Here are the categories we'd like you to shoot for:
- A helpful story that provides EarthBox owners with information
- A story on your most successful crop
- Your greatest number of EarthBoxes in use at once
- Your best disaster story, so everyone can learn from your mistakes
- Your quickest recipe using an EarthBox harvest
- Your spiciest recipe using an EarthBox harvest
- Articles on non-traditional uses of the EarthBox
Your entry should be brief and to the point. We'll pick a new winner every month, and we'll post each month's winner in an upcoming issue of the newsletter.
Just send your contest entries to photos@Earthbox.com, with the word "contest" in the subject line, and we'll take a look!
|Send Us Your Photos and|
To place an order, call 866-727-5532 (24/7)
or visit our online store
We're glad to hear that so many of you found our February issue on potting media so helpful, and we appreciate all of the
feedback we received from you!
In this issue, we're including a special section that offers step-by-step guidelines
for setting up your EarthBox for the season. I realize it's a little long,
but believe me, it's well worth the effort of reading. In fact, this may just be
the most important subject we've covered so far.
|Setting Up Your EarthBox
1. Decide what to grow. For plant selection information and recommended numbers of seedlings, visit the What to Grow section of our website, which includes the Plant & Fertilizer Placement Chart. You can also contact your local county extension agent for information on what will thrive in your area, and how to address pest issues. Be careful not to overplant your EarthBox!
2. Review the checklist and get organized. Make sure you have everything you need before you begin:
3. Choose a good location appropriate for the plants you want to grow. Most crops will require 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. However, some do require partial shade. Try to keep your box as level as possible; shims, bricks or pavers can be used for this purpose. If leveling your EarthBox is not possible, try to position it so that the two wicking corners are on the downhill side. This will ensure that any water in the reservoir will be available for your plants.
- Plastic aeration screen
- Water fill tube
- Two cubic feet of potting medium
- Watering can or hose
- Fitted plastic covers
- Plants or seedlings
- Four casters (optional)
4. Insert the casters into the bottom of the box (optional).
5. Set the plastic aeration screen firmly in the bottom of the box.
6. Press the water fill tube through the round cutout in the corner of the aeration screen. Make sure the water tube is firmly seated against the bottom of the box.
7. Fill the water reservoir. You can fill it at the end, but it's easier to fill it now. Don't worry about using the fill tube; just pour the water right into the box. Filling the reservoir first will also ensure that the potting medium will pack tightly into the wicking corners.
8. Dump moist EarthBox-compatible potting medium (refer to the February newsletter for more information) into the two rear corner cutouts in the aeration screen. Press down or pack down with your hands.
You can use dry potting medium. Within 24 hours or so the inherent wicking action of the medium will do the job for you. However, we've learned to use moist medium, or to moisten the medium as we go, for two reasons. First, if you've ever used dry medium you know it will blow all over the place, on even the stillest of days. Second, the mix has the ability to absorb a tremendous amount of water. So if you use dry mix, it will suck the reservoir dry the first day.
9. Continue adding moist potting medium onto the top of the screen until the EarthBox is filled to a level about 2" from the top. It's okay if some of the medium falls through the screen.
10. Sprinkle the potting medium with water and gently pat it down, especially above the two rear corner cutouts you filled first.
11. For vegetables and tomatoes, mix two cups of dolomite or agricultural (high calcium) lime into the top 3-4 inches of potting medium and resmooth it.
12. Fill the EarthBox completely to the top with potting medium. Don't leave any spaces open along the sides.
13. Again, sprinkle the potting medium well with water, and smooth it out to top edges of the box.
14. Create a trough for the fertilizer strip. If necessary, refer to the Plant & Fertilizer Placement Chart in the instruction sheet or refer to the What to Grow section of the website. For more information on what types of fertilizers you can use, see the Fertilizer Q&A section following these set-up instructions.
15. Pour two cups of dry chemical fertilizer or three cups of dry organic fertilizer in a strip in the trough. Don't use liquid fertilizer, or fertilizer that needs to be mixed with water. Do not use time-release fertilizer.
16. Gently cover the fertilizer strip with moist potting medium and pat down. You should have a nice mound of medium over the fertilizer strip. Don't mix the fertilizer into the potting medium, or otherwise spread it around.
17. Place one of the fitted plastic covers black side up (white for desert climates and Florida summers), align one of the round cutout holes over the water fill tube, and carefully stretch the cover over your EarthBox. Ignore the pre-cut X's in the mulch cover; they are for the first generation EarthBox staking system. When the cover is secure, cut a three-inch X in the cover for each plant, as far away from the fertilizer strip as possible. Always keep the EarthBox cover on.
18. Through the newly cut X-flaps in the cover, dig holes 2-3 inches deep into the medium. Place one plant per hole, and firm up the medium around the roots. Take care to plant the seedlings at the same depth they were growing, with the exception of tomatoes; these plants can be set deeper if you wish. Do not overcrowd the box; stick with the recommended number of plants.
19. Just this once, pull back the X-flaps in the cover to water the plants. This will help to properly set the roots into the medium. Otherwise, water the EarthBox through the fill tube. Always keep the reservoir full; you can't overwater, as the overflow hole controls that.
Q. What kind of fertilizer does my EarthBox need?
A. Each time you plant in the EarthBox, use two cups of a dry granular fertilizer or plant food for vegetables (three cups if you're going organic). The three numbers of the elements making up the fertilizer content should be in the range of 5 to 15; i.e., 12-8-10 or 10-10-10. After you've applied the fertilizer strip, no more fertilizer will be needed for the rest of the season. Do not use a water-soluble or time-release fertilizer.
Q. Can I use organic fertilizer?
A. Yes; in fact, many EarthBox gardeners prefer growing their plants organically. There are several brands of dry granulated organic fertilizer (for example, Espoma's Garden-tone or Garden Plenty) that can be used by replacing the 2 cups of chemical fertilizer with 3 cups of organic fertilizer. We've added a 8-3-5 OMRI-listed organic fertilizer to our product list.
Q. Can I use liquid fertilizer, or fertilizers that are mixed with water?
A. No. Years of scientific research have gone into determining the type, quantity and placement of fertilizer to maximize plant health and production in the EarthBox. Liquid fertilizers defeat the purpose of the EarthBox system, as nutrients aren't provided on a constant, stable basis. Two cups of a dry fertilizer are all your plants will need.
Q. Can I purchase supplies like fertilizer, dolomite and potting mix at a garden center?
A. Yes. The Dealer Locator has information on all EarthBox registered retailers; but if your local garden center doesn't carry the EarthBox, please let us know.
|Fresh from the Forum
For a lively discussion on planting seeds
your EarthBox, visit the Q&A section of the Forum. You'll also find
some helpful information on growing corn, cucumbers, and other veggies in your EarthBoxes.
||Retailer of the Month
Wight's Home and Garden
proud of our dedicated, authorized EarthBox Gardening System retailers around
the country. Every month we highlight one of our valued partners, so you can
learn more about them and their products. This month, we salute Wight's Home and Garden in Lynwood, Washington.
You'll find a myriad of gardening items to choose from at Wight's, including favorite plants, pottery, art, holiday items,
and over 170 varieties of Japanese Maples. They also offer a
full line of organic
products, as well as special events, informative classes, and design consultations.
Wight's Home and Garden is open daily, Monday through Sunday. Visit them
5026 196th St. Southwest
Lynwood, WA 98036
||From Our Customers
snowing again here in New England, and thoughts turn to spring. We enjoyed our
EarthBox experience last year. In these interesting economic times, it's nice
to know you can save on all those trips to the grocery store and nibble on your
hobby at home. Next year we're going to plant 10's and 20's!"
|The patented EarthBox was developed by commercial farmers, and proven in the lab and on the farm. Our maintenance-free, award-winning, high-tech growing system controls soil conditions, eliminates guesswork, and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden -- with less fertilizer, less water and virtually no effort. It's used successfully on a daily basis by commercial farmers, educators, and consumers. Distributors are also finding it to be a popular growing system.|
EarthBox is a remarkably easy-to-set-up system that can be used to grow produce virtually anywhere. EarthBox systems have been incorporated into community gardens all over the world, enabling families and neighbors to share fresh produce, while minimizing work and expenses. EarthBoxes can even be found in classrooms. Our EarthBox Pre-K through 12th grade standards-based curriculum support packages can bring science to life, with hands-on cross-curricula lessons that teach principles of growing and nutrition utilizing the scientific method in student-driven experiments.
To find out more, visit www.earthbox.com.
||Postscript: A Photo ID Correction
In our Christmas postal mailer, we used a photo that we attributed to the wrong
customer. We'd like to apologize here for that oversight, and offer a
correction. The photo of the Maryland deck garden should have been attributed
to Debbie W. of Baltimore, who grows her own fresh deck salad in her 12
EarthBoxes. Sorry about the error, Debbie!