April 2012

In This Issue
EarthBox Education
Potting Mix vs. Potting Soil
Retailer of the Month
Fresh from the Forum
>From Our Customers
Share Your EarthBox Experience
Join Our Online Community
About EarthBox

EarthBox Education

EarthBox is a growing part of an important beach stabilization effort in Louisiana!

Seven of the nine schools in the Louisiana State University (LSU) Coastal Roots Program are growing a grass called Bitter Panicum in EarthBoxes, in an effort to help stabilize beach dunes in area parishes. The Coastal Roots Program was begun in 2000, and schools started planting the Bitter Panicum in 2007. The EarthBox system was introduced to this growing effort just last year, as having Bitter Panicum cuttings delivered to the schools was becoming time consuming. Now, students can grow foundation plants and make stem cuttings at their own school nurseries.

Bitter Panicum

Bitter Panicum is a warm season grass that is used in restoration projects to stabilize areas such as beach dunes, spoil banks, roadsides, and mine spoils. This grass is robust, thrives in dry conditions, holds sand in place, and serves as food for livestock. It also provides habitat for song birds, waterfowl, and small mammals.

One EarthBox

The first EarthBox-grown Bitter Panicum plants will be transplanted this spring. Students will bring them to Grand Isle State Park, in Cameron or Vermilion parishes, dig holes with shovels, and place the grass plugs into the sand.

One EarthBox

Each school received EarthBoxes and planting media earlier this year as part of a National Wildlife Federation grant to the LSU Coastal Roots Program.

"I'm excited to have schools using EarthBoxes to grow their Bitter Panicum foundation plants for restoration sites on Louisiana's coast," says Dr. Pamela Blanchard, Director of the Coastal Roots Program. "They're easy to move, look great in our plant nurseries, and keep maintenance for our teachers and students to a minimum."

For more information on the LSU Coastal Roots Program, visit http://coastalroots.lsu.edu.

Featured Product

Tired of having to bend over to reach your EarthBoxes? Here's the ideal solution: the EarthBox Garden Stand.

EarthBox Stand

Each sturdy steel frame, made of four easily-assembled pieces, comes with stainless steel hardware and can be put together in minutes. In addition to making your EarthBox more accessible, it's great for cascading flowers and ornamentals.

Need help assembling your EarthBox Garden Stand after it arrives? Check out this video, where General Manager Frank DiPaolo shows you how.

2012 Educational Packages

We're pleased to announce that our 2012 Educational Packages are available for purchase.

These STEM-based plans (for early learners up to elementary, middle, and high school students) are ideal for teaching the art and science of horticulture. They make it a snap to illustrate where food comes from and what it takes to produce it -- a process that's rather mysterious to many students these days. Click here to learn more!

Earth Day Sweepstakes

In honor of Earth Day's 42nd anniversary this April 22, we're holding an EarthBox-A-Day Sweepstakes!

Every day from April 1-April 20, one lucky entrant will win a Green EarthBox Gardening System. On Earth Day, April 22, 2012, The Grand Prize Winner will win two Green EarthBox Ready-To-Grow Kits, two Green Staking Systems, and one Automatic Watering System Two-Box Starter Kit! Just click the "Sweepstakes" entry on our main Facebook page or click here to go directly to the Sweepstakes page and enter to win!

Who will be today's winner?

We Have a Winner!

We've chosen the latest winner in our ongoing photo contest! In this wonderful photo, Deborah Nicholson of Hernando Beach, Florida shows off last year's crop of tomatoes and heirloom Melrose peppers.

Deborah, who originally comes from Chicago, explains, "Melrose peppers come originally from Italy and were brought to Melrose Park, Illinois many years ago. We loved these sweet peppers so much my husband wanted to know why we couldn't grow them here. So I found the seeds online and you can see the results. A huge bumper crop! We now have six EarthBoxes, and plan to grow each year. I have just started planting them for this year.

"I love my EarthBoxes! I'm sure my friends think I work for you, because I sound like a walking commercial. I even have friends in New Jersey excited about them!"

Photo of the Month Contest

Want to win a $25 EarthBox gift certificate? Just send us your EarthBox success photos with the word "contest" in the subject line of your email, and you could be our next winner!

Please make sure your image is in .JPG format and at least 640×480 pixels or 5 x 7 inches at 72 dpi. We'll pick a new winner every month, and post the entry in an upcoming issue.

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Dear Customer,

Greetings! We hope you're enjoying this promising spring.

Here at EarthBox Central, we always strive to give you everything you need in order to be successful -- especially information. Therefore, today we'll address the issue of potting mix vs. potting soil, which has been discussed far and wide on the Forum.

Happy gardening,

Frank DiPaolo

P.S. Don't forget, Earth Day's 42nd anniversary is coming up this April 22. To celebrate, we're giving away EarthBoxes every day this month. Details and a link to the entry form are located on the left-hand side of this newsletter. As a responsible steward of the Earth, we know you'll want to help us celebrate!

Potting Mix vs. Potting Soil

EarthBox Potting Mix was designed to provide the best possible growing environment for your plants, and there are many other approved mixes that work with the EarthBox system. Some of you buying brands not on our list have found ingredient labels to be unclear; and others may have been unintentionally misguided at garden or home centers, because the staff wasn't well-versed in the EarthBox growing system. These experiences have prompted us to devote this newsletter to clarifying the potting mix vs. potting soil question.

The Right Mix for the EarthBox System
Whether you use our potting mix or a brand on our Approved Mix list with your EarthBox, it must be soilless -- that is, it must have absolutely no garden or field soil in its makeup.

Stated simply, the principle behind the EarthBox growing system is that the water is wicked from the bottom and the fertilizer remains on top of the soil. Since watering takes place from the bottom up, the medium must be porous enough to allow water to be drawn up from the reservoir to the roots, and loose enough to allow for root movement and aeration. In addition, it needs to be free of soil-borne diseases, weed seeds, and toxins, which is why only sterile "soilless" mixes are acceptable.

"Potting Mix" vs. "Potting Soil"
Here's a tricky problem that many EarthBoxers face: the fact that growing media labeled "potting soil" may be the right thing to buy in one part of the country, but entirely the wrong thing to buy elsewhere. State and federal regulations don't govern potting media, so label details will vary by product and by region. So pay attention not to what the product is called, but to the ingredients it contains. We can't overemphasize how important it is to read the ingredients label before purchasing any potting medium!

Some typical ingredients in commercial potting media that are safe for EarthBox-grown plants include:

Peat Moss, which absorbs water readily and allows good water movement.

Sphagnum Moss offers excellent water movement, aeration, and nutrient retention, while still retaining moisture.

Vermiculite, an amendment derived from the mineral mica, has a light, fluffy structure that causes it to retain large quantities of air, water, and nutrients.

Perlite, another amendment, is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that provides excellent aeration and water movement.

Coir is made from ground-up coconut husks. It offers excellent water retention properties.

Forest By-Products, especially tree bark, are fine in small percentages (and in any case, it's hard to find commercial mixes that don't contain FBPs). These materials increase moisture retention, but typically decrease available air spaces, while increasing the acidity of the mix.

A wide variety of other ingredients may be added to potting media in small percentages in order to provide nutrients. These include blood meal, bone meal, bat guano, chelated iron, kelp meal, processed poultry manure, rock phosphate, and worm castings.

Ultimately, the mix you use should resemble a pro-type mix or the brand PRO-MIX, an almost universally known name for the type of media that works well in an EarthBox. You'll need two cubic feet of the potting medium to fill a standard EarthBox, and just under one cubic foot to fill an EarthBox Junior.

One final point: unlike traditional pots or containers, where you'll want to leave a half-inch or so of space at the top of the container, with the EarthBox you want to overfill the container so that the mulch cover is pulled taut, and there can't be any ponding or puddling of water on the surface. Ideally, the EarthBox should resemble a loaf of bread when properly filled with the potting medium and covered.

Those of you starting with Ready to Grow EarthBox kits will have the EarthBox fertilizer in pre-measured amounts to work with. This is available in both an OMRI-approved organic formula and a synthetic formula high in natural ingredients. In addition, we sell replant kits that include the appropriate fertilizers. Otherwise, we recommend using two cups of a dry, granular fertilizer (three cups if you're using organic). Here is a list of plant foods/fertilizers that are approved for EarthBox use.

Dolomite (a type of limestone) provides calcium and magnesium, which discourage Blossom End Rot (BER) in tomatoes, peppers, and related plants. DO NOT use hydrated lime, pickling lime, or granular lime in place of dolomite. Generally, agricultural lime should not be used in the EarthBox either, because it does not contain any (or enough) magnesium; however, dolomitic agricultural lime can be used if it is labeled as high magnesium, high calcium. Again, we list some types of lime suitable for EarthBox use on our website.

The Bottom Line
To get the best performance from your EarthBox, the potting medium you use must be soilless and made up of sterile materials. That way, you don't have to worry about it being contaminated by disease, weeds, or toxins. Your best bet is to select a brand from our Approved Growing Media list. Otherwise, read the label very carefully to make sure the material is acceptable for the EarthBox, sterile, and soil-free. If you do so, and follow our other growing suggestions for fertilizers and dolomite, you'll be in a good position to maximize your EarthBox results right from the start.

Retailer of the Month

This month we salute Hicks Nurseries, Inc. of Westbury, Long Island, New York. Founded in 1853, Hicks is the oldest nursery and garden center on Long Island. They offer a wide selection of indoor and outdoor plants, flowers and accessories, casual furniture, and garden accents. Plus, their expert horticulturalists are always on hand to discuss growing options and help with gardening issues.

HicksHicks has been selling EarthBoxes to customers for many years, and their sales are robust indeed. In fact, the EarthBox is the single largest contributor to their planter sales. "We display the EarthBox near the tomato plant selling area," says Buyer Bob Friedl. "We put out about 100 boxes at a time, and display the accessories on a rack next to the boxes. I would like to say that the POP that came with the boxes this year was great."

Customer satisfaction is evidenced by the fact that Hicks also sells a considerable number of replant kits to EarthBox growers. These customers can certainly experiment away with vegetable and fruit plants, as there are numerous seedling varieties to choose from at Hicks. "The EarthBox brings us more dollars per square foot than any other planter we sell, and we sell lots of planters!" notes Mr. Friedl.

To get more information on their products and services, including free cooking workshops, Hicks' yearly tomato growing contest, holiday events, the Spring Flower and Garden Show, and hours and directions, visit the website at www.hicksnurseries.com or call 516-334-0066.

If you're a retailer interested in carrying EarthBox products or have a favorite garden center that you would like to recommend for EarthBox products, please contact Kathy Sponenberg here.

Fresh from the Forum

If you live in the north and you're thinking about growing garlic, check out the great information from your fellow EarthBoxers in this Forum thread before you get started!

From Our Customers

March CustomerHale Holistic Studio in San Diego, California offers yoga and kickboxing classes (a bit of yin and yang) and some private fitness training. After each class and session, clients receive a free organic green smoothie. The smoothies are made from the fresh vegetables grown in EarthBoxes on Hale's studio roof.

"The weather here makes for amazingly easy gardening," says personal trainer Kirk Hensler. "I like to provide people with food that is alive and packed with nutrients, so I usually make smoothies the day I harvest. I think clients can feel the health and vitality of the food, which is especially rewarding after a nice yoga or martial arts practice."

Hale started this EarthBox rooftop garden about a year ago, and now grows spinach, kale, rainbow chard, and strawberries when in season to put in the smoothies, along with local oranges and organic bananas. Right now, the EarthBoxes are brimming with cabbage, tomatoes, fava beans, basil, thyme, rosemary, and honey rose sage among other plants.

The studio's goal is to provide a blueprint for a healthy lifestyle that doesn't require major personal change or being consumed with perfection. "We've all got our struggles," Kirk says, "so we try and keep things light and fun and let healthy living unfold naturally. Thoughtful exercise and mindful nourishment to the body unlock all kinds of information within us that allows us to live happier, healthier, and more meaningful lives."

For more information about Hale Holistic Studio, click here.

Share Your EarthBox Experience

We appreciate your opinions about EarthBox products, and so do your peers. Because we recognize how helpful and valuable our customers' viewpoints can be, we would love to receive your comments -- whether positive or negative.

Here's the process: go to our website, click the category on the left column, and then click on the product name. Next, click on "Review this item," and start writing.

Thanks in advance for your help! We look forward to reading the reviews, and improving your EarthBox experience. So please, don't hesitate to post reviews on our product pages.

Join Our Online Community

Join fellow EarthBox growers on Facebook for interesting gardening discussions, to find special EarthBox offers and resources, and to view photos from both us and our customers. While you're there, take a look at our new Education Department Facebook page.

And don't forget to check out our videos! This is a members only feature, so if you're not already a Facebook member, you'll need to sign up. We recently posted a new video on Facebook to help you decide what to plant in your EarthBoxes. Take a look!

We also invite you to participate in our forum. We'd love for you to weigh in on any EarthBox matters that interest you, and show us how your EarthBox crops are faring this year. Don't hesitate to ask questions, because your fellow EarthBoxers are a wonderful source of information who will gladly help with any of your EarthBox issues!


To place an order, call us at 866-727-5532 (24/7) or visit our online store. We accept PayPal!

About EarthBox

The patented EarthBox was developed by commercial farmers, and proven in the lab and on the farm. Our maintenance-free, award-winning, high-tech growing system controls soil conditions, eliminates guesswork, and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden -- with less fertilizer, less water and virtually no effort. It's used successfully on a daily basis by commercial farmers, educators, and consumers. Distributors are also finding it to be a popular growing system.

EarthBox is a remarkably easy-to-set-up system that can be used to grow produce virtually anywhere. EarthBox systems have been incorporated into community gardens all over the world, enabling families and neighbors to share fresh produce, while minimizing work and expenses.

EarthBoxes can even be found in classrooms. Our EarthBox Pre-K through 12th grade standards-based curriculum can bring science to life, with hands-on cross-curricula lessons that teach principles of growing and nutrition utilizing the scientific method in student-driven experiments.

To find out more, visit www.earthbox.com. To request a catalog, call 888-917-3908.

EarthBox® 1350 Von Storch Avenue * Scranton, PA 18509 * 1-866-727-5532