Inside the Box masthead
February 2011
In This Issue
EarthBox Education
Featured Product
The Benefits of
Beneficial Organisms
Please Write a Review!
Fresh from the Forum
Retailer of the Month
From Our Customers
Join Our Community
Ordering
About EarthBox
EarthBox Education:
A Rooftop Garden Thrives

Residents of the Valkommen Plaza Senior Center in Rockford, Illinois, embarked on a new project in 2010: growing vegetables in containers on the second floor rooftop of their building. Some of the produce was raised in small containers or in beds built by adding lumber to cast-off tables, but the most successful yields were from plants raised in EarthBox gardens.  

 

Valkommen

 

The limited space, hot conditions and mobility issues made the specialized containers a great fit. Tomatoes, peppers, radishes, peas, beans, and herbs flourished. Fresh vegetables went first to disabled individuals and low-income Valkommen residents, and then were shared with area needy through donations to local food pantries. They also shared their harvest with The University of Illinois Extension-Winnebago County's Plant a Row For The Hungry Program.

 

Valkommen Aerial

 

Cyndie Hall, Executive Director of Rockford Neighborhood Network, says, "I was excited by this great project, and am looking forward to 2011. We were able to help residents work together to grow healthy food for themselves and others. The EarthBoxes worked well for people with limited mobility, with challenging rooftop garden conditions."    

 

As Master Gardener Jeff White (who helped organize the project) reports, "The EarthBoxes worked perfectly. Gardening on a second story roof was the only option, because of the downtown location of the center."   

 

The project was made possible through a unique partnership which included funding by the City of Rockford Human Services Department, education and training by University of Illinois Extension-Winnebago County's Director Margaret Larson and local master gardeners, and assistance from the Rockford Neighborhood Network, local gardeners, and volunteers working with Rock Valley College and Sam's Club.

  

For information on starting an EarthBox project of your own, click here or contact our Education Department at 1-800-821-8838, ext. 8348 or 8369.
Featured Product
Beneficial Organisms

As you now know, we carry a nice line of beneficial garden organisms -- from helpful ladybugs and lacewings to beneficial worms like nematodes and red wrigglers. Take a look at our stock, and choose some for your EarthBoxes!

We Have a Winner!
 

We've chosen the latest winner in our ongoing photo contest!  

Barbara Nichols of Bloomfield, NJ will receive a $25 EarthBox gift certificate for her photo of her thriving basil plants.  Here's Barbara's winning entry:   

 

Basil

  

Says Barbara, "My Italian basil plants go wild in my EarthBox and are the talk of the neighborhood! These pictures were taken at the end of September, after the plants were cut back numerous times throughout the summer. They refuse to stop growing!  

 

"We have enough pesto and bags of frozen leaves to last us until next summer. Now I am letting it flower and will collect the seeds for next year.   

 

"I also grow fabulous tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and string beans in my other EarthBoxes. Thanks for a wonderful product!"

 

We'll be posting more winners as we choose them -- and we're still waiting to hear from you!

Photo of the Month Contest

Want to win a $25 EarthBox gift certificate? Send us your EarthBox success photos with the word "contest" in the subject line of your email, and you could be a winner!

 

Please make sure your image is in .JPG format and at least 640×480 pixels or 5 x 7 inches at 72 dpi. We'll pick a new winner every month, and post the entry in an upcoming issue.

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MGA Logo

Home Gardening Seal

Tillywig
Greetings!

 

We hope you and your plants are staying warm!

 

Whether you're already growing in your EarthBoxes or waiting for the last frost to pass, we want to share some important information about natural pest control. We've had numerous requests for natural pest control items, and we now carry beneficial organisms to help you manage the insects that may attack your plants. 

 

Despite the gardener's justifiable worry about insect pests, only about 2% of all insect species are detrimental. Fact is, the overwhelming majority of insects (and a variety of other small creatures) are either neutral or useful in the gardening environment, so it's important to know which ones are which. Read on to find out more about how specific beneficial organisms can help keep your plants healthy!

 

Happy growing,

 

Frank's Signature
Frank DiPaolo
EarthBox
Olive Green ArrowThe Benefits of Beneficial Organisms

 

Given all the challenges that Mother Nature sends our way, it makes good sense for us gardeners to work hand-in-hand with nature as much as possible. One of the simplest ways to cooperate is to make use of beneficial organisms, including insects, microbes, and worms, to combat the less beneficial creatures in the natural environment.

 

Among other things, beneficial organisms reduce the need for chemical use, and cut back on the amount of time you have to spend on pest control. Some beneficial organisms help indirectly, when they improve the soil while going about their own business; others are beneficial because they act as pollinators. But most beneficial insects are predators, who help by eating the bad bugs that cause trouble.

 

Our Favorite Bugs

Ladybugs are at the top of our list of beneficial insects. These classic "good bugs" feast on a whole host of baddies that suck the life out of plants, including aphids, scale, mealy bugs, and leafhoppers. You'll have to release them on your plants at sundown; they don't fly at night, so they'll immediately start looking for something to eat instead. They'll also lay their eggs on your plants, ensuring a fresh crop of ladybugs just in case the bad bugs return.

 

We're also fond of green lacewing larvae, which can consume up to 1,000 aphids each in just one day! Sprinkle their eggs on your plants, and when these "Aphid Lions" hatch, they'll start chowing down on those sap suckers immediately. They'll also prey on other soft-bodied pests like mealy bugs, scale, thrips, whitefly larvae, leafminers, and mites. Once they mature into lacewings, they're likely to lay their own eggs for second-generation protection!   

 

Other Beneficial Bugs 

Also worth noting are a number of other hungry insects that love to dine on problematic bugs that eat or otherwise damage garden plants. Ant lion larvae, for example: while they do feed primarily on ants, they'll eat any other small, soft-bodied insects that fall into their pits, including thrips, scale, and aphids. Assassin bugs will clear away infestations of aphids, army worms, stink bugs, and houseflies, while Tiger Beetles will devour tougher prey: ants, beetles, caterpillars, and even spiders. But the apex predator of the garden insect world has to be the otherworldly praying mantis. They have voracious appetites, are very patient, and will feed on almost any insect they can catch.

 

Depending on the circumstances, you may discover that not all of these predatory insects will work for your gardening situation. Some may even eat each other! We recommend that you experiment on your own with these natural predators, until you arrive at the right mix for your needs. 

 

The Worms

There are also a few types of worms that are very helpful to the gardener. Our teeny-tiny beneficial nematodes, for example, are especially effective predators that will happily rid the soil around your plants of over 200 types of pests, from grubs and fleas to cutworms and Japanese beetles. Just spray them onto moist soil, and you're good to go.

Red earthworms don't kill pests the way nematodes and the beneficial bugs do, but they're helpful in their own way. Not only do they condition the soil around your plants by loosening and aerating it, they also produce one of the very best natural fertilizers: nitrogen-rich worm castings. Your plants will absolutely love this rich soil amendment.

In Conclusion...

Using beneficial organisms like the ones we've described here is a simple way to reduce your plants' need for chemicals in order to thrive. They let you work with Mother Nature, not against her, so why not give them a try?

Olive Green ArrowPlease Write a Review!

 

We appreciate your opinions about EarthBox products, and so do your peers. Because we recognize how helpful and valuable our customers' viewpoints can be, we would love to receive your comments -- whether positive or negative.  So please, don't hesitate to post reviews on the product profiles at EarthBox.com.  

 

Thanks in advance for your help! We look forward to reading the reviews, and improving your EarthBox experience.

Olive Green ArrowFresh from the Forum
Bell Pepper Question 

Fresh From the Forum

EarthBoxer Joy recently asked:

 

"I started my bell pepper seeds on January 18 in sponges in a Biodome, placing it on a heating mat.  I just got back after a two day visit to a good friend's house, and lo and behold I'm seeing the sprouts already, with cotyledons as I think they are called. Problem is, I don't have my shelves and lighting up yet; that's not possible until around Monday. Will they be okay for about five more days on the heating mat and just in the seed starting kit without the fluorescents?"

To see what fellow EarthBoxers have had to say in response, click here.
Olive Green ArrowRetailer of the Month
Homestead Gardens of Maryland  

feb retailer -orange

Each month, we at EarthBox salute one of our valued retailers. This month, we honor Homestead Gardens of Maryland. Their  customer pledge is "Fresh from the farm to you," and they deliver on this pledge year-round. Robust native plants are grown just minutes away from their retail store, so everything arrives there fresh. The original facility was established over 25 years ago; however, Homestead expanded to 330,000 square feet of unprotected growing space in 2001. All this fertile land means that many varieties of flora are available. 

 

In addition to annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, Homestead offers customers products and services for water gardening, backyard birding, home and garden design, floral creations, and general landscaping. Their experienced arborists are also available for diagnosing gardening issues.

Customers have the added benefit of workshops, and even a field trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Weekend seminar topics include "Opening Your Pond," "Proper Pruning Techniques," and "The Wonderful World of Herbs," among others. Garden Club membership offers special values and discounts, as well as extended product guarantees. On the EarthBox front, Homestead also gives our products a big push with a special EarthBox seminar, and they use them frequently with their Garden Show theme every March.


Stop by and visit Homestead Gardens in either Davidsonville or Severna Park. For store hours and directions, please call 1-800-300-5631.
http://www.homesteadgardens.com 

Olive Green ArrowFrom Our Customers
Soil Cable Project
 

Petunias

"Having started petunias in one of my EarthBoxes in early Spring 2010, this was the first year to try Donald1800's plans to install a 70 watt soil cable in an EarthBox with a weatherproof GFCI power source. Let me say, Wow!

"The flowers are continuing to bloom today, just two days from Thanksgiving, despite multiple days of snow and 20 to 30 degree nighttime temperatures. The only other winter protection that I have provided is to cover the EarthBox with a DuPont frost bag on cold nights. The frost bag was purchased from my area Lowe's store and has a drawstring that allows closing it more tightly around the EarthBox. An added benefit is that this has kept high winds from blowing it off.
"

 

"deep"

Northern Indiana

Zone 5a

Olive Green ArrowJoin Our Community

EarthBox is on Facebook!  Now you can become a fan of EarthBox, joining a community of fellow EarthBox users for conversations, advice and photo sharing -- or just to check out whatever new information EarthBox has to enhance your gardening experience.

And don't forget to check out our videos! This is a members only feature, so if you're not already a Facebook member, you'll need to sign up to view the videos.
Olive Green ArrowOrdering 

To place an order, call us at 866-727-5532 (24/7) or visit our online store.

Olive Green ArrowAbout EarthBox

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 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
. To request a catalog, call 888-917-3908.
EarthBox® 1350 Von Storch Avenue · Scranton, PA 18509 · 1-866-727-5532