Box Gardening: 7 Time-Saving tips

Outdoor garden space with swing and EarthBox container gardening systems

Box gardening can save homeowners tight on space, turning patios and balconies into productive green patches. It offers a practical solution for homeowners with limited yard space.

But what about time? Sure, you might like to grow fresh produce, but what if you only have a little free time? After all, if you lead a busy life, you want to avoid having it all consumed tending to vegetable plants. There are only 24 hours a day, and you don't want to devote much of it to plant care.

The good news is that you can have your cake and eat it too. We have seven box gardening tips designed to manage your time. But that still gives you the luxury of homegrown tomatoes, fresh vegetables, and herbs.

Tip #1: Choosing the Right Gardening Boxes

One of the most overlooked yet critical decisions in gardening is selecting the correct gardening container.

Selecting the correct planting box offers several benefits. It can save you time and contribute to your plant's health. So before planting, invest some time in your gardening box selection. You'll save countless hours in the long run.

Here are some things to look for:

Container Size: Smaller containers dry out faster. But larger gardening boxes hold more soil, which retains moisture longer. This is especially important for thirsty plants like tomatoes or cucumbers. Generally, using larger versus smaller tomato planters is a good idea.

Moreover, the deeper the ground, the better the root system, leading to healthier plants. And that means less worry for you.

Self-Watering Planters: In addition to the container's size, opt for one that offers self-watering. For example, EarthBox gardening boxes use sub-irrigation. Its fill tube lets you add water to the reservoir where plant roots will access it as needed.

That ensures you don't overwater or underwater your plants. Plus, it reduces the time you spend watering your plants -- instant time-saver!

Tip #2: Opt for Low-Maintenance Plants

One of the keys to a thriving garden without the daily commitment lies in selecting the right plants. Low-maintenance plants are a boon for busy gardeners.

Hardy plant varieties require less watering and fewer nutrients. They're also often resistant to common pests and diseases.

For example, if you grow tomatoes, use determinate varieties like cherry tomatoes that require less pruning and support. They're typically smaller and bushier than indeterminate varieties like heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms demand time for staking and occasionally pruning to support their sprawling habit.

Other great low-maintenance options include:

  • Greens: Plants like kale, chard, and spinach are low maintenance. They increase and aren't overly picky about their environment.
  • Herbs: Perennial herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano, can be a busy homeowner's best friend. The other advantage to many herbs is that they'll return the following year. So that saves you from replanting.
  • Veggies: We mentioned tomato plants like cherry tomatoes. But other veggies like bush beans, carrots, and beets offer plentiful harvests without demanding too much attention.

Tip #3: Smart Watering Techniques

Water is the lifeblood of any container garden. But how, when, and how much water can often be a head-scratcher for gardeners.

Too much water can be as detrimental as too little, and both can sap the vitality of your plants. Thankfully, there are some clever ways to ensure your plants get sufficient water. And they'll eliminate constant guesswork and wasting time.

We already mentioned using sub-irrigated planters. But here are some other options for handling the important task of watering:

Drip Irrigation: The process involves dripping water onto the soil at meager rates (2-20 liters/hour). The water comes from a system of small-diameter plastic pipes fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers. You'll spend some time putting the system in place. But you'll save countless hours afterward while ensuring your plants get suitable water.

Mulching: Mulch reduces the amount of water that evaporates from your soil. And that dramatically reduces your need to water your plants. It also delivers nutrients to the soil. Plus, it improves the soil's ability to hold water, saving time.

You can also use mulch covers. For example, EarthBox offers mulch covers with its planting boxes.

Scheduling: Get into a morning routine of watering plants. If that doesn't work, take care of the task early in the evening. It might not save you time, but it will help you manage your time. Morning and evening are also the best times for watering.

Tip #4: Self-Sustaining Potting Mix

Soil is more than just dirt; it's the bedrock of every garden. A well-composed potting mix does wonders beyond just supporting plant roots. It consistently feeds your plants while regulating moisture.

So before planting, invest the time to create a self-sustaining potting mix. Combine organic potting soil with compost for a nutrient-dense combination. As the organic matter decomposes in the planting box, it will keep feeding your plants.

Include a slow-release fertilizer in the mix. The granules break down over time to supply your plants with steady nutrition. The better your potting mix and the more nutrient dense it is, the less time you'll spend fertilizing your container garden.

You can also opt for planting kits that provide everything you need. You'll save time shopping for all the necessary items. Kits include a planting box, fertilizer, soil, etc. You'll have the assurance that your soil mixture is appropriate for your needs.

Tip #5: Pest Prevention Over Pest Cure

Every gardener, at some point, faces pest concerns. They can turn your hours of work and care into a buffet for these unwelcome guests.

Treating an infestation can be time-consuming and an often-recurring battle. So take the time upfront with preventive measures instead of having an ongoing fight that saps time.

Here are some container gardening tips to minimize the potential of pests:

  1. Pest Resistant Varieties
    Select plants with built-in pest resistance to reduce concerns later.
  2. Companion planting
    Some plants naturally repel pests. Others attract beneficial bugs that help control pests. For instance, planting marigolds near tomatoes can deter nematodes.
    So tempt beneficial bugs into your garden—plant flowers they like, such as cosmos, sweet alyssum, dill, yarrow, etc.
  3. Interplanting
    You can fool pests from overtaking your box garden with interplanting. It confuses pests because they'll find it harder to home in on their preferred crop.
  4. Plant Stands
    Getting planting boxes off the ground reduces problems with slugs and other soil-dwelling pests. Plant stands also save you from breaking your back tending to plants.
  5. Barriers
    Protective mesh stops pests from getting near your hard-won crops. Allow covers to rest on the plants or support them on hoops. Best of all, you'll eliminate daily interventions keeping the pests at bay.

Tip #6: Companion Planting

We mentioned this briefly earlier, but you can make plant care more efficient and save time with companion planting. It involves segmenting plants that grow with similar needs together. So grow plants with identical sunlight requirements, watering needs, and maturity heights together.

For instance, place planting boxes with drought-tolerant herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a dedicated section. Conversely, put gardening boxes with moisture-loving greens like lettuce and spinach in another.

The same holds for light requirements. Create a section for plants needing full sun in one area and those needing part sun in another.

So when it's time to water or fertilize, you can cater to an entire group's needs in one sweep. This placement ensures that each plant receives optimal care. And it reduces the time spent tending to individual plant needs.

Tip #7: Quick Check-ins

A brief daily or weekly check can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems that drain your time. So spend a few moments looking over your plants. Check their leaf color for early signs of disease or pests. That small time investment can save you hours in the long run.

Save Time with EarthBox Gardening Boxes

EarthBox is a leader in space-saving box gardening products designed for your success. As important, their gardening kits give you everything you need to save valuable time. All you need are the plants.

Best of all, the company's products come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.