Planting Boxes: It's Easy to Grow Your Own Vegetables

Salad greens growing in an EarthBox Original planting box

Have you ever considered growing your own vegetables? Well, guess what. With planting boxes, it’s easy. And it doesn’t cost much.

For example, the National Gardening Association puts the average cost of a home vegetable garden at just $70. In addition, it reports that the average vegetable gardener harvests around eight pounds of produce from a 25-square-foot garden.

That’s a larger space than you’ll have with a container garden. But a simple planting box can still harvest a sizeable amount of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables.

Want to know more? Read on!

Why Have Planting Boxes Become So Popular?

Container gardening is the fastest-growing form of gardening in the United States, with more than 20 million gardeners (Source: National Gardening Association). So, it’s little wonder that people would turn to it to grow their own produce.

But there are several reasons people get a kick out of container gardening using planting boxes:

  1. Convenience: You can place a planting box on a balcony, patio, or other small outdoor space, or indoor, for that matter. So it’s easy to grow plants in urban environments where space is limited.
  2. Control: Planting boxes allow you to control the soil type, watering, and sunlight your plants receive. And that creates healthier, more productive plants.
  3. Aesthetics: Let’s face it. Something is inviting about greenery. You can add texture, color, and interest to an indoor or outdoor space. Think of it as your own mini-landscape.
  4. Vegetable Gardening: Garden planting boxes are perfect for growing vegetables, herbs, fruits, and other edibles in a controlled environment. Plus, you get to harvest your very own vegetables.
  5. Maintenance: Planting boxes are reasonably simple to maintain. Indeed, some manufacturers like EarthBox offer boxes for gardening with automatic watering systems. As a result, there’s no guesswork, which makes growing and maintaining your garden a breeze.
  6. Accessibility: Planting boxes can be raised off the ground to make them easier for planting, harvesting, and maintenance. A raised bed can be beneficial for gardeners with mobility issues.

Overall, planting boxes provide a convenient and practical way for people to enjoy the benefits of gardening, even in small spaces.

Lettuce growing in a sage green raised bed EarthBox gardening system

How Big Should the Planting Box Be?

When selecting your gardening container, consider the type of plants you plan to grow and the available space.

A smaller box of 12-18 inches in length is sufficient for smaller herbs and salad greens. However, if you plan on growing tomatoes or peppers, you’ll need to step up to a 24-36 inch long planting box. That size accommodates two or three tomato plants.

Apart from plant type, you’ll also need to consider how many plants you’ll use. The more plants, the larger gardening boxes you’ll need. With some larger plants, you may only be able to grow one per container, even when using vegetable planting boxes that are 30 inches.

You’ll also want to consider weight. A filled planting box can be pretty heavy. That’s fine if you plan on leaving the container in place. If not, you may consider adding wheels/casters to it for easier transport.

Don’t Forget the Depth of Your Gardening Box

Another critical consideration is depth. Most vegetables and herbs require at least 12 inches in a planting box. That allows for adequate root development while ensuring plants access moisture and nutrients.

However, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips require more substantial depth, 18 inches or more.

Carrots growing in a square vegetable planting box

What are the Best Vegetables and Fruits for Planting Boxes?

In great measure, your climate determines what plants are best. But there are some commonly grown in gardening boxes and grown successfully.

  • Herbs: Any herb is perfect for planting boxes – basil, thyme, mint, sage, oregano. You can use a larger garden container to plant virtually an entire garden or use one designed for herbs like EarthBox’s herb planter boxes.
  • Tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes are compact and require little space. So they’re perfect for planting boxes. Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants for container gardening, second only to potatoes. Using tomato planters, you have a fresh reserve of ripened tomatoes to pick whenever you like. Learn more about tomato planters here.
  • Lettuce: Greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale can be grown in vegetable planting boxes and are ready to harvest within a few weeks.
  • Peppers: Bell, chili, jalapeno, scorpion, and other peppers produce impressive yields in planting boxes. You flavor your meals or make some hot salsa guaranteed to light you on fire!
  • Radishes: They’re simple to grow. Plus, you won’t have to wait long to harvest them.
  • Carrots: Although you can grow carrots in gardening containers, your container must be deep enough to accommodate their long roots. The same holds for potatoes and turnips.
  • Strawberries: Who doesn’t like fresh, sweet strawberries? With planting boxes, you can grow and enjoy them all season long.
  • Blueberries: They’re delicious and nutritious. Using planting boxes, you can grow sweet and juicy blueberries that you eat fresh or use in baked goods.

The great thing about planting boxes for vegetables is that you can move them indoors to extend your season. Imagine enjoying fresh vegetables throughout the year.

What’s the Best Time to Plant in Garden Containers?

As you’d expect, it depends on where you live and what vegetables you want to grow. But here are some guidelines.

Temperate Climates: You can plant in the spring after the last frost date and continue growing through summer. You can plant cool-season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and radishes in the fall.

Tropical Climates: You’re in luck. You can plant year-round in planting boxes for gardening. However, remember to take extra care during the hot summer to ensure plants get enough water.

Cold Climates: In the spring, you can plant cool-season vegetables. Once summer hits, you can move to warm-season plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

If you aren’t sure what plants to use and when to plant them, talk to someone at your local nursery or gardening center for guidelines in your region.

What Soil is Best for Planting Boxes?

Start with a potting mix designed for container gardening that offers good drainage and aeration. They’re both essential for your plant’s health.

Good potting soil should contain a mixture of ingredients such as peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and compost. These ingredients help retain moisture, provide nutrients, and keep the soil loose and airy. You can also add compost or slow-release fertilizer to provide additional plant nutrients.

When in doubt, companies like EarthBox have planting kits with pre-measured essential ingredients. The mix is specifically formulated to work in planting boxes.

Here’s a tip. Don’t use garden soil in containers. It gets compacted and limits your plant’s growth. When growing vegetables and fruits, choosing a potting mix labeled organic or natural is also a good idea. These products are free from harmful chemicals.

You can learn more about selecting a suitable growing medium here.

Steps for Planting Gardening Boxes

The process is straightforward. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select Your Potting Mix: Use well-draining potting soil formulated for container gardening. You can create your own or buy a pre-made mix.
  2. Fill the Planting Box: Fill the gardening container within two to three inches of the top with the potting soil. Then pack down the soil gently to remove air pockets.
  3. Fertilize: You can add compost or slow-release fertilizer to provide additional nutrients for your plants. Mix the fertilizer into the soil thoroughly before planting.
  4. Water: Water the soil to settle the potting mix and eliminate air pockets. Allow the soil to drain a few minutes before planting.
  5. Plant: After preparing the soil, you can plant your seeds or plants. It’s essential to space your plants evenly, giving them enough space to reach maturity. You must also pay attention to planting depth.
  6. Mulch: After planting, add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and regulate the soil temperature.

You’re all set. Next, you’ll need to maintain your container garden.

How Often Should You Water Plants?

The frequency of watering in planting boxes depends on several factors:

  • The size of your boxes
  • The plants you’re growing
  • Temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Rainfall

Check the soil regularly by sticking your finger into the soil to see if it feels dry. If the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time to water. Don’t be shy about purchasing a water meter. It can help remove the guesswork.

When it’s time to water, it’s essential to water deeply to ensure plant roots receive enough moisture. Deep watering also encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil.

Never overwater, a common problem with container gardening beginners. If the soil becomes waterlogged, your plants risk dying from root rot. That’s where those drainage holes come into play. Let the soil dry out before watering again.

During hot weather, you’ll likely need to water plants more frequently. This is because gardening containers can dry out reasonably quickly. Plus, as your plants get bigger, they’ll need more water, especially in the heat.

What About Fertilizing My Planting Boxes?

Vegetable plants require an ongoing supply of nutrients to produce solid yields. That’s why slow-release fertilizers work well in planting boxes. They supply a steady stream of nutrients over a longer time.

You can find slow-release fertilizers in various forms, including granules, pellets, and tablets. You can add them at planting and as a top dressing throughout the growing season.

If you prefer organic gardening, you can use various options like compost, well-rotted manure, bone meal, and fish emulsion. Like slow-release fertilizers, these organic options provide a range of nutrients and minerals to support plant growth.

When selecting a fertilizer, choose one with a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen supports foliage growth, phosphorus helps with root development and flowering, and potassium promotes overall plant health and stress tolerance.

Always apply fertilizers at their recommended rates. In addition, avoid using it when the soil is dry, as it can burn your plant’s roots.

Some Helpful Accessories for Planting Boxes

If this is your first time growing vegetables in planting boxes, some accessories can increase your chances of success.

As mentioned, you can reduce watering concerns with a water meter or automate the process with a watering system.

Bushy plants like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and watermelon require staking. It provides support to keep plants off the ground while assisting in their upward growth habit. Remember, many diseases and insects start at the ground level. So, staking eliminates ground contact.

Staking offers other benefits:

  1. Staked plants grow upright. Otherwise, they’ll sprawl and take up more space in your planting box.
  2. Staking allows more light to the blossoms and leaves, providing energy for producing more substantial yields.
  3. By staking, you allow air to move in and around branches, preventing diseases from spreading.
  4. Staked plants are easier to pick.

You can stake your vegetable using trellises, cages, or stakes. Container gardening specialists like EarthBox offer a staking system at various heights.

Speaking of tomatoes, you can purchase tomato growing kits. They give you everything you need to support growing tomatoes – soil, fertilizer, mulch covers, wire ties, and trellis. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Insects and birds can wreak havoc on container gardens. However, you can protect your plants with netting. It allows air circulation and rain to reach plants but keeps harmful pests away.

Tomatoes growing in a green EarthBox container gardening system supported by a 5 foot staking system

Some Tips for Using Planting Boxes Successfully

Container gardening can be fun, especially when you’re rewarded with a crop of vegetables. Of course, proper watering and fertilizing are a big part of the equation. But there are other things you can do to support your success. Here are some tips to help make that happen.

Plant Selection: Different plants have different yields. So the amount of produce you can get from a planting box depends on what you choose to grow. In addition, pay attention to light and temperature requirements and mature plant size.

Planting Box Size: Larger planting boxes hold more plants. As a result, you’ll get greater yields than smaller gardening boxes with fewer plants. Regardless of container size, it’s critical to space plants properly. Overcrowding prevents plants from reaching their mature size, leading to reduced yields.

Location: Vegetable plants need light to grow. Most require at least six hours of direct sunlight. So make sure you place your vegetable planting boxes in a sunny location. Here’s a snapshot to help you understand the light requirements of some common plants.

  • Full Sun: Full sun plants include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, beans, and corn. They need at least six hours of sunlight for the best results.
  • Partial Sun: Plants that prefer partial sun require four to six hours of sunlight – lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, radishes, beets, and strawberries.
  • Shade: Vegetables and fruits that tolerate shade need only two to four hours of direct sunlight daily. Examples of shade-tolerant plants include herbs like mint, chives, and cilantro and leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.

Climate: Although you can’t control your environment, it can impact yields. For example, in warmer temperatures, plants can grow more quickly than in cooler climates. They’re also more likely to create more produce.

The Best Planting Boxes for Container Gardening

Here’s one final tip for successful container gardening – check out EarthBox. Since 1994, EarthBox has been the top-rated and most trusted container gardening system.

Commercial farmers developed our planting boxes. They’re proven to work in the lab and on your patio. Our maintenance-free container gardening systems control soil conditions and eliminate guesswork. So you’ll get double the yield of a conventional garden.

Add your plants to the gardening containers, water, fertilize, and provide sunlight. It’s that simple.

Tomatoes, carrots, and herbs being grown in different EarthBox gardening containers