Screw Monsanto, Grow Your Own Veggies on the Patio With Earthbox
Hard as we try, it's tough to avoid Big Ag. Even if we stick to whole foods (the actual eats, not the store), most of the produce aisle is GMO-ridden. And living in this densely populated paradise, it's unlikely most of us have access to garden plots.
Courtesy of Earthbox
Enter Earthbox, the most genius invention for anyone looking to eat clean. This handy-dandy DIY garden box is designed to let you grow your own stuff anytime, anywhere. And it's basically foolproof.
Invented in Florida by agricultural visionary Blake Whisenant, the box is a go-to resource for lots of folks lacking land, time, and/or green thumbs.
The gist is this: The Earthbox Ready-to-Grow kit comes complete with everything you need to successfully grow your own anything, anywhere, sans the plants or seeds themselves. And it costs $54.95, which is like one-third the cost of a trip to Whole Foods.
"Depending on the weather and conditions, you use about a quarter of the water compared to in-the-ground use and about half the fertilizer, keeping precious elements contained and in the plant," says general manager Frank DiPaolo.
You can't even overwater it because there's an overflow hole.
"It's really hard to screw up," DiPaolo says.
While individual plants will still need specific growing conditions (more or less sunlight, etc.), you can work around your patio or front stoop space. And the boxes come with wheels so you can move 'em around.
The standard-size kit can hold a pretty good lot. "From two tomato plants to six pepper plants. Smaller ones like leafy lettuce, corn, you could do 12 or 16 smaller plants," DiPaolo explains.
Specifically, the main kit includes medium (soil), fertilizer, dolomite (nutrient boost for plants) a water tube, mulch covers, an aeration screen, an overflow drain, casters (so you can roll it), and instructions. There are different options, including an organic kit ($59.95), a junior version ($32.95), and a simpler set ($32.95) for those who want to provide their own soil and fertilizer.
Plus, the company provides video tutorials and a super-active online forum where people talk gardening for days. You can find out almost anything from the guru garden experts, whether you're an Earthbox owner or not. Or call the 24-hour help line if you find yourself in a 2 a.m. plant-related emergency.
And what happens when the growing season is over? After all, most vegetable plants are annuals, so they get only one go-around.
"At the end of the season, I take a pair of shears and cut the plants right at soil level," DiPaolo says. He discards (or composts) those, places a cover on the box, and lets it sit till the following spring. Then the re-plant kit ($12.95) comes into play.
"After a couple of years, you might need to add some more soil. As long as you don't have any disease, you can reuse the soil over and over," DiPaolo adds.
Did we mention the Earthbox comes in different colors? Your patio can be totally fabulous with chocolate, eggplant, and terra cotta shades.
The company is headquartered in Scranton, Pennsylvania (it was difficult to avoid mentioning The Office during the interview), but Earthboxes are available online and through a host of independent retailers, including locally at Galloway Farm Nursery.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.