If you spend as much time as I do reading garden blogs and websites you may have noticed that the EarthBox has gotten a lot of press this year. I've been joking on Twitter that EarthBoxes are the new black or perhaps they are the Snuggie of the gardening world-they're everywhere.
The rectangular containers that look like plastic storage bins wearing shower caps were developed by Blake Whisenant, a Florida tomato farmer, in 1992. Measuring two and a half feet long by 15 inches wide and a foot tall, the EarthBox is a self-watering and self-fertilizing growing system that devotees say take the guess work out of farming in small spaces.
The photo above is from the organic rooftop farm at Uncommon Ground where they are used not to only to grow more crops but act as a barrier to keep people from going towards the edge of the roof.
The EarthBox is a big feature of the vegetable garden at the MSI Smart Home this year. I posted about my visit to Rick Bayless' urban farm in his back yard but the EarthBox is used to grow tomatoes and peppers on the roof of the building that Frontera Grill is located in. TwitPic updates by @Rick_Bayless show that he's growing 12 kinds of tomatoes and 5 kinds of chile peppers on the rooftop garden. The black plastic you see acts as a kind of mulch keeping soil and moisture in and weeds out. Water is delivered into the reservoir through the tube sticking out of one of the corners.
Some ingenious gardeners have even taken to making homemade versions of the EarthBox (more about that later) to grow in small spaces like decks and rooftops.
What kinds of plants are people growing in EarthBoxes?
Tomatoes have to be the most popular vegetable being grown in the EarthBoxes that I've seen in person and pictured online. A close second would be peppers and assorted herbs and greens. The staking systems allow you to grow climbing plants and plants like tomatoes that need staking without the need for actual stakes.
Do you have an EarthBox or have a homemade version? Add your pictures to the Chicago Garden Flickr pool and show off your garden.
For more information visit EarthBox.com. Several garden centers in Chicago are listed as local distributors of the EarthBox if you're interested in buying one.