Preparing Your EarthBox® for Spring Planting
Spring has arrived, and for many of us, that means it’s almost time to get the garden planted. Taking the necessary steps to prep your EarthBox® gardening system will ensure it’s ready for the growing season. We’re here to help and tell you how to do just that. The process is fairly straightforward—just follow these simple steps, and your garden will be ready in no time!
Get Organized and Prepare Early
Taking the time to properly shut down your EarthBox® gardening system at the end of the season can make it easier to replant. When it's time to grow again, have everything ready to make replanting quick and simple.
If You Didn't Winterize Your EarthBox®:
- Start by cutting down and removing any dead plants and their remaining root ball.
- Pull off the old mulch cover and discard it in the trash.
- Locate the residual fertilizer strip (it usually looks like dark grey, muddy clay), and scoop it out.
(Next time, avoid any potential issues by winterizing your EarthBox® system.)
To Replant Your EarthBox®:
- Decide What You Want to Grow
Check the Planting Chart to make sure you purchase the correct number of seedlings for the system. If you choose tall or vining plants, they'll need proper support. Consider adding the EarthBox® Staking System, a perfect solution for these plants, so you can avoid a headache later on.
- Loosen and Inspect the Old Growing Medium
You can do this directly in the box, or you can turn it out onto a tarp to aerate it and put it back in the system. If you notice a foul odor, that is normal and natural due to the composition of the growing medium and fertilizer—don't let that cause alarm. There is no reason to discard this and start from scratch with new growing medium, unless you come across any infestations or your previous crop was diseased. This is especially important if you want to plant tomatoes or peppers, which are prone to Blossom End Rot (BER)—any residual dolomite mixed throughout the old growing medium is an added benefit to this year’s crop.
Make sure the growing medium is moistened throughout and the wicking chambers are packed down to ensure proper absorption of water.
- Have a New Replant Kit on Hand to Prep Your EarthBox®
The benefit of the Replant Kit is knowing you have exactly what you need for a successful garden—there is no measuring or guesswork involved.
Add the entire pouch of dolomite to the growing medium and mix throughout.
- Top Off the System with Some Fresh Growing Media
Remember to use a peat-based medium that contains perlite and/or vermiculite, which helps with aeration and drainage. See our full list of growing media recommendations.
- Make a Trough for Your Fertilizer According to the Planting Chart
Add the entire pouch of fertilizer included with your Replant Kit. Cover fertilizer with a protective mound of fresh growing medium, overfilling the box so that it resembles a loaf of bread.
- Put a New Mulch Cover On
Which side to use will be determined by your climate. Most gardeners will need to use the cover with the black side up; except in climates where your peak growing season temperatures are sustained at 85° or higher (or if your area is predicted to get harsh sun and heat, or very dry weather), then use the cover with the white side up.
- Fill the Reservoir Until Water Flows Freely From the Overflow Drain
If you want your EarthBox® garden to be self-sufficient, consider installing the EarthBox® Automatic Watering System (AWS), which allows for worry-free watering while you are at work or away on vacation.
Always Remember To Do the Following:
- Use the Mulch Cover and Keep It On Throughout the Growing Season!
By not using this integral component, you are limiting your chances for a successful garden—leaving your plants susceptible to harmful pests and critters, weed infestation that can rob key nutrients from your crop, allowing evaporation of essential moisture your thirsty plants need, and letting any heavy rains wash away your plants’ food supply.
- Keep the Water Reservoir Filled!
Adding water to the reservoir daily until the system overflows will ensure your plants don’t dry out on hot days. If you’re planning some time away, the AWS can save your gardening efforts by providing a consistent supply of water without wasting a drop.
- Don’t Burn Your Plants!
Avoid using hydrated lime in place of dolomite; and be careful with different fertilizers. Using fertilizers that are too heavily concentrated, or adding more plant food than what is required (either too much in the fertilizer strip, or adding water-soluble nutrients to the reservoir) can have the opposite effect of what you intended.
- Inspect Your Plants!
The EarthBox® gardening system removes nearly all the work of a traditional in-ground garden, but that doesn’t always mean your crop is in the clear. Common garden pests can still attack plants above the mulch cover, weakening your plants’ immune systems and leaving them susceptible to disease—which can wipe out the entire crop, or worse—your whole garden. Be diligent with inspecting your plants daily when watering, checking under leaves and along stems. If you see anything that you can’t identify, check our Insect Identifier first before killing anything. Some beneficial insects may be in a different life cycle than their easily recognizable adult form.
- Use Plant Treatments Responsibly!
You should not be afraid to treat your plants for pests or diseases if needed; there are a number of safe, natural options on the market for almost anything. But there is a level of responsibility that comes with spraying or adding treatments to the reservoir; and knowing when and how to use them is essential. A good rule of thumb is to wait until dusk—when winds have died down, residual chemicals are unable to burn leaves in harsh sun, and most beneficial insects are not active. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on any plant treatment you intend to use.
Do you have any tricks or garden hacks that cut down on time, or help your garden grow? Share them with us in the comments!