Thursday, April 03, 2008

My Black Thumb

Now that it's spring, I have decided to try to grow something. Glenn ordered me this EarthBox Garden Kit weeks ago and it has been sitting in the garage where I feel guilty every time I step over the big box to get to the car. He ordered it because I am always talking about wanting to "live off the land" and grow things on my own in case of a famine but I had no idea he took me seriously.

Anyway, today I had the morning off and decided that come hell or high water, I was putting this thing together and planting something in it--preferably strawberries or some kind of vegetable. No, it was not hard to put together. It was easy. I am just mechanically challenged as screwing a few casters into a tub and putting a plastic screen and water tube in place for the plants is pushing the limits of my abilities.

But enough about that. This box looks kind of neat. It is described as a:

maintenance-free, high-tech growing system makes it easy to control soil conditions for less guesswork and more yields. In fact, the patented EarthBox more than doubles the yield of conventional gardens its size, with less fertilizer, less water and virtually no effort! With no digging or weeding to do, vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers grow bigger, tastier and faster in the EarthBox!

I have always wanted to grow strawberries and everyone in my family loves them. I will let you know if I can get anything to grow in this contraption --believe me, it will be a miracle if I do. If I don't blog about it at all in the next six months, it probably means something really bad happened to my plants and I am too embarrassed to let you all know that the curse of my black thumb continues.

If you have any tips on growing vegetables or strawberries etc., please drop a line in the comments.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of the finished product!



Blogger DADvocate said...

I like growing tomatoes and other vegetables. I till a small outside garden in my backyard and usually plant tomatoes, beans, green peppers and a couple of other things. For the hell of it, I've planted habaneros the last two years but I've only used one. I give some to a lady I work with who makes hot sauce with them. Beware!

Where I live we get adequate rainfall and the soil is good. I never fertilize and rarely water, usually just a little when things are first planted.

Homegrown tomatoes are MUCH better than store bought. One plant produces a lot.

1:24 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Mad William Flint said...

"I had no idea he took me seriously" ooh ooh man bashing! joke, it's a joke. sheesh. :p

yeah I kill plastic plants.

That actually seems pretty cool.

1:29 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Wayne said...

The Earthbox looks like a pretty good little setup, you should be fine with it. I would suggest pretty much just following any directions it has, but watch the moisture content of the soil. If you keep it inside, you should probably not have to water more than once or twice a week, but if you keep it outside, you may have to water every day, or even more often, because there's not enough soil there to hold onto a lot of water. Just check the soil with your fingertip, about an inch deep, and if it feels wet or very damp, don't water. If it feels VERY dry, check more often.

One thing about strawberries - you probably won't get enough at one time from that small a setup to make a dessert for the family, but they will be good for the fresh feel of pulling one straight from the vine and biting right into it. On the other hand, one tomato plant can easily provide enough tomatoes for daily dining, though it will spread out far beyond the planter if you don't put up a support of some sort and tie the vines up (my father does this in his flower garden and usually has a 6ft tall tomato plant by the end of the season).

1:33 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

My mom has a green thumb, but so do her parents.

2:07 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Mad William Flint,

Actually, it was a joke about myself. I am always getting ideas about things and blathering on non-stop--I am sure it gets irritating.

Wayne and Dadvocate,

It sounds like tomatoes are the way to go. Strawberries might be too fragile and it sounds like they aren't worth all the space for just a few.


Send your mom over, maybe she can help.

2:08 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

I concur about the tomatoes. I am a very limited gardner, I only grow tomatoes! You cannot purchase a tomato, you can buy things that look like them, but they can only be grown or gifted.

There are these tomatoes called heirloom tomatoes that come in all sorts of weird sizes, shapes, and colors. They taste great but are a little trickier in terms of needs and vulnerabilities. But the tastes are killer.

Happy gardening, have fun.


2:24 PM, April 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to this post - although, because at my local Lowe's they give a "plant guarantee" - I am banned from purchasing any living thing that would normally be covered under warranty! :)

Happy Gardening!

2:54 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Wayne said...

If you plant tomatoes and are going to tie them up to keep the vines from spreading, throw a few herb seeds in around them. Basil and Sage are particularly hardy (and tend to be short plants) - I have harvested sage in the spring that had been buried in the snow during the winter. It was still green.

3:19 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

To all,

So I went to the plant store, and bought tomatoes, strawberries and flowers as the box says you can plant them all. The strawberrry plants look very hearty, just hope I don't kill them....

3:34 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Nickname unavailable said...

I've been gardening for thirty years, so let me offer a little advice. In gardening, moderation is key. Too much fertilizer will ruin the taste of the tomatoes. You want the plants to work to grow, not be shot up like some steroid mad wrestler. Regular watering is also key. Get a little sprinkler, and a water timer, and water the same moderate amount everyday at the same time. A few egg shells, or a few coffee grounds, (note I said few) in the soil, will also help. good luck and enjoy. And you don't need insecticide, but if you must use pyrethrin or neem.

3:50 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, as green noted, regular watering of tomatoes is essential, if they get too dry then get too much water the tomatoes will soak it up too fast and split open.

Back in the day I grew lots of stuff, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, carrots, peppers, herbs, even corn in a garden about 25' by 60'

4:11 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

The thing about strawberries is that it is better to plant them in a patch outdoors as it takes about 2 seasons before you get a significant amout of berries. Tomatoes are the way to go for an immediate yield.

6:28 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger vanderleun said...

I certainly don't know from personal experience, but I am told from reliable sources that here in the pacific northwest town of Seattle, the "Earthboxes" are used extensively as a starting and maturing structure for mind-boggling weed. A kind of feed your bong from the box kit.

Rumor has it that they are sealed up in a closet under some full-spectrum growlamps.

Of course, you would never do something like that and I am quite confident you'll stick to strawberries which can be transplanted into strawberry towers.

9:43 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger gemma said...

The earthbox is phenomenal. My husband and I bought one last summer and grew herbs and grew herbs and grew herbs. I mean herbs! We supplied the whole town with basil and parsley and whatever that other stuff was. It grew to the point of blocking the sun from the driveway. We are not gardeners at all. My husband says I can kill the silk plants quicker than the real thing. OK. You get it. The earthbox rocks.

10:36 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger WillBDone said...

I used to have a black thumb too. But for the last few years, by trial and error, have discovered immense joy out of nurturing my little plant babies and discovering what they like best.

My experience with strawberries is as others have described...For a good yield you need a larger patch and a couple years for them to get established.

A trick I read about with tomatoes that I will try out this year, is to not be afraid to prune off some of the smaller ones, so that the larger ones can grow even larger. And WATER....WATER....WATER.

Good luck! And I will be watching for updates!

8:23 AM, April 05, 2008  
Blogger Nom de Blog said...

Tomatoes like organic matter. A friend once advised me to plant them in a mixture of half soil, half peat moss.

My kids favor the yellow pear tomatoes (small like cherry tomatoes, but yellow and pear shaped). When they are ripe and sun-warmed they are delicious. I just love it when the kids say "Mom, I'm going outside for a snack!"

9:15 PM, April 05, 2008  
Blogger BlogDog said...

I've run EarthBoxen for the last couple of years and they're great. Last year was bad for tomatoes but the hot peppers were fantastic.
Also, if you find that it's working for you, there are instructions on how to build your own out of 18 gallon Sterlite (sp?) containers as are carried by Wally Marts.
I'm building two of them this year.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll be happy with what you get out of it.

10:24 PM, April 07, 2008  
Blogger edgelady said...

I've been gardening for about 20 years ... still have problems with vegetables because I work full time, and you have to pay a lot of attention to veggies because so many different critters want to eat them.

If you want to feel like you've accomplished something gardening, and want to learn fun stuff as you go, start with herbs. Herbs are simply weeds, and they do not like to be over-watered or be in soggy soil (don't like their toes wet).

Plus you have the lovely side effect of using fresh herbs when cooking. Try basil first -- wonderful stuff!

I went from herbs to roses ... have about 17 rose bushes and I so love having cut roses in my house and taking them to friends!

11:59 AM, May 06, 2008  
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