August 2012

In This Issue
EarthBox Education
Harvesting and Storage
Retailer of the Month
Fresh from the Forum
>From Our Customers
Share Your EarthBox Experience
Join Our Online Community
Ordering
About EarthBox

EarthBox Education

Hillsborough County College in Tampa, Florida has found many uses for its EarthBox systems. The school's Nutrition & Dietetic Club, along with the club's Advisor Steve Gagnon and President Tony Law, established sensory herb gardens at their Child Development Center (CDC) this past year. The gardens, which are located outside the two classrooms, have been tended by 3-5 year olds -- and both the children and gardens are thriving!

The Nutrition & Dietetic Club, along with the Emerging Green Builders and Designers Club, advisor Joe Tisdale (who teaches Architecture Construction), and the Hospitality Club funded the EarthBoxes. The Nutrition & Dietetic Club purchased the plants, and the Emerging Green Builders and Designers purchased the wood and built the stands for the boxes.

"We just added a 'berry patch' with blackberry and blueberry plants to the playground," reports Mr. Law, pictured below with the new EarthBoxes.

In addition to the children's outdoor garden, the college's Hospitality Club and The Nutrition & Dietetic Club each recently purchased 12 EarthBoxes along with Pre-K-Grade One Curricula and World Food Day Kits. The World Food Day EarthBoxes will be used in each of the two CDC classrooms, and are being presented to the pre-schoolers as "Fighting Hunger Boxes."

For the World Food Day Campaign, The Nutrition & Dietetic Club has created an EarthBox contest. Participants will purchase the World Food Day ("Fighting Hunger") boxes, grow lettuce and check in with Mr. Law for data and photo updates. Those entrants who don't have the space can put their boxes in the campus EarthBox greenhouse, and Mr. Law will care for them. Those who have grown the most lettuce in a single EarthBox by World Food Day (October 16) will be awarded cash prizes. Entrants will be encouraged to grow beyond October 16, and their harvests and remaining contest funds will be donated to a food bank associated with Institute of Florida Studies-HCC Plant City Director Dr. Sudeep Vyapari.

For more information on the Hillsborough County College Nutrition & Dietetic Club's garden projects, including The World Food Day Campaign, visit their Facebook page or email hccndclub@gmail.com.

Speaking of World Food Day, we'd like to invite everyone reading this to join the EarthBox World Food Day Campaign. Let's all work toward ending world hunger!

For more information on starting your own EarthBox project, click here or contact our Education Department at 1-800-821-8838, ext. 8348 or 8369.



Featured Product

The EarthBox is the ideal growing environment for just about any crop, especially tomatoes -- which is why we designed the Staking System. Now you can grow any tall or vining crop with ease.

EarthBox Staking System

The Staking System offers a hassle-free way to support your EarthBox plants as they grow. You can choose from Green, Red, Terracotta, or White. Click here for more details, and check out this video for a quick tutorial on assembling your Staking System.

Please note that this version of the Staking System cannot be used with EarthBoxes purchased prior to November 2005 (e.g., first-generation boxes). Both the first-generation EarthBoxes and their staking systems have been discontinued.

If you aren't sure whether you have a first-generation EarthBox, here are some identifying features of the older version: the ribs on the box, a lack of caster sockets, and no molded elements inside the box.



Educational Packages

This is a great time to get some EarthBox Educational Packages for the upcoming school year!

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!



We Have a Winner!

We've chosen the latest winner in our ongoing photo contest! In this photo, 2½-year-old Ellie from Springfield, Virginia, shows us her tomatoes. Ellie says, "So big!"

Her mom Emily adds, "These tomato plants have grown so tall that it's hard to take a picture that includes all three boxes and all six plants. We started harvesting cherry tomatoes in mid-July, and enjoyed one large Cherokee Purple that had ripened a little early. We created support cages out of pea fences following a popular design on the EarthBox Forum, and are impressed that the tomatoes have grown up and over the top of the cages!"



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,

We hope you're having a nice, relaxing summer. By now, many of you may be harvesting and enjoying your EarthBox produce.

Knowing when your fruits and vegetables are at their "ripened best" will give you the freshest, most delectable produce possible. And by following some simple storage steps, you can be enjoying luscious bounty months from now, while others are paying top grocery store prices for produce. Read on to learn more!

Happy gardening,

Frank DiPaolo
EarthBox


When to Harvest, and Best Storage Methods

This deep into the summer, you've probably already started picking some of your EarthBox produce. Knowing when to harvest your fruits and vegetables can make all the difference in flavor and storability.

You see, maturation rates can vary each year, depending on growing conditions. Therefore, visual and tactile cues are the most reliable way to know when your produce is ready. So in this issue, we'll offer some harvesting tips for the most popular vegetables.

Harvesting Cues
Cantaloupes have a sweet, musky aroma when they're ripe. Also, the rind turns from green to tan between the surface netting. If the stem slips off easily when pressed at the base with your thumb, the melon is ready.

Carrots can be harvested at any time before they exceed an inch in diameter; about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch is good. Give them a twist when you pull them up, so the leaves don't break off, but then remove the leaves. If you don't, the tops will keep growing and take moisture and nourishment out of the roots.

Cucumbers must be harvested when still immature; if they yellow on the vine, the plant will stop producing. They're best at 3-4 inches for pickling and 6-8 inches for slicing. Pick them often, so the plants will produce more fruit.

Eggplant can also be picked at any state of maturity. If you take them when small, you'll enjoy baby eggplants. Make sure the skins are still shiny if you take them when they're mature; otherwise they will taste bitter.

Leaf lettuce can be harvested once the leaves are large enough to use. You can pick from the outside and let the inner leaves continue to grow, or crop the whole plant an inch above the soil and let it all re-grow.

Peppers are edible at most stages of the growth process. Some people pick them when they're very young and green; others wait until they turn red or yellow. Just be sure to pick them when they're firm, and wear gloves when you pick the hotter types.

Snap beans (pole and bush) are ready for harvest when the pods are young and green, before the seeds are well-developed. Take them when they're pencil size; pick the beans several times a week, to ensure a continuous harvest. If any pods mature, the plant will stop blooming.

Summer squash is best picked while immature, tender enough to be easily penetrated with a fingernail. Yellow squash is best harvested when between 4-8 inches in length (2 inches in diameter); zucchini is best at 6-8 inches long. Frequent picking will result in the plants producing more fruit.

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables grown in the EarthBox. They can be picked while still green (fried green tomatoes are delicious), but most people pick tomatoes once they've turned red, and are still firm and fully colored.

Whatever you choose to grow in your EarthBox, your local nursery or county extension agent can help you with advice on harvesting and storing your crops.

Freezing
Freezing is an easy and convenient way of preserving extra fruits and vegetables. If properly frozen, both will retain much of their fresh flavor. Start by cleaning your produce in cool water, then allow it to dry thoroughly. If necessary, cut the larger vegetables or fruits into smaller sizes appropriate for freezing. Further prepare the produce by blanching it briefly in hot water, and have vapor-proof containers and bags ready before proceeding. For further details on freezing fruit, visit this site. You can learn more about freezing vegetables properly by clicking here.

Canning
Food that has been properly canned and stored in a cool, dry place will last about a year. The two most common canning methods are boiling water (for naturally high-acid foods, like tomatoes) and pressure canning (for low-acid foods). The food you're canning must be very fresh, so pick it early in the morning at the peak of ripeness. For best results, don't can overripe produce. Gather only as much as you can process in three hours at most, and clean the produce thoroughly to remove all the dirt.

Check out our Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide for a step-by-step primer for easy canning, as well as 120 tested recipes. You'll find old favorites like crunchy pickles and strawberry jam, as well as variations such as low-sugar and sugar-free preserves and new options like dilled green beans.

Tomato lovers can preserve some of their harvest in cans, and put some to immediate use as the primary ingredients for specialty preserves such as ketchups, salsas, and even pizza sauce. Mrs. Wages' ketchup mix contains a mouth-watering mixture of herbs and spices that can make up to five pints of ketchup from your fresh tomatoes, and it's ready to eat in just 24 hours.

Pickling
Many vegetables can be pickled (that is, preserved in brine), with the most popular being cucumbers and cabbage (for sauerkraut). We make pickling easy with our Mrs. Wages mixes; from pickling lime to kosher dill mix, we have the ideal product for you. If you choose to pickle from scratch, just follow the instructions in this helpful guide for safe handling and optimum enjoyment of your harvest.

Drying
Drying or dehydrating is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods, and it's a good alternative if you lack both canning equipment and freezer space. You can dry food using a conventional oven or a food dehydrator. This handy site offers plenty of helpful tips on drying your produce.

Fresh Produce All Year Round
Harvesting your EarthBox produce can be a very satisfying process, especially when you reap the harvest at its peak best. If the growing season yielded a surplus, share some with friends, and store the rest. That way, you can be making savory dishes with your fruits and vegetables all year long, no matter what the weather conditions are!


Retailer of the Month

This month we salute Agriventures Agway, which has been serving rural and urban communities in Western Connecticut for more than a decade. Their products and services address the needs of all gardeners, from people growing on balconies to professional farmers. The four garden centers are well stocked with nursery items, pet and farm supplies, wood pellets and coal, and seasonal products. For customer convenience, Agway also offers delivery services.

EarthBoxes and replant kits represent a very popular growing system for customers with limited space. The busiest season for purchases is April/May, with robust sales around Mother's Day. EarthBoxes are placed with the pottery, to attract those interested in container gardening. Agway also has one set up with a trellis, so visitors can see the benefit of the EarthBox trellis kit for vining plants.

"The EarthBoxes offer a great option for customers who don't have the space or time for a full garden," notes Manager Brian Leonard. "They sell well to people who reside in condominiums and those with modest yard space."

For more information on Agriventures Agway, visit www.agwayct.com.

Fresh from the Forum

You can usually count on cucumbers producing a lot of fruit...so if they're not, something's definitely gone wrong. If your cucumbers aren't setting fruit, check out this Forum entry for tips and suggestions from your fellow EarthBox gardeners.


From Our Customers

As our friend "Deep" reminds us, "EarthBoxes are not just for vegetables. Sometimes they're for slowing traffic to take a second look at flowers!"

These EarthBoxes contain a mix of three Supertunia Raspberry Blast and three Supertunia Royal Velvet petunias. The picture was taken in May 2012. "It will likely be a cloud of flowers by August!"

"Deep"
Zone 5a
Northern Indiana


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 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 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!

Ordering

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