In This Issue
Retailer of the Month
Fresh from the Forum
>From Our Customers
Share Your Experience
Join Our Online Community
At Preston County Workshop, every season is a season of growing, for both EarthBox plants and the people who tend them. Individuals in this West Virginia rehabilitation program are learning life
skills as they grow and harvest squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. The abundant yields are enjoyed by these growers, and shared with the other Workshop clients with disabilities.
"EarthBoxes are amazing. This is the first time we have used them, and I must say the vegetables are out of this world!" notes Jeremy Hyre, Production Manager. They purchased 40 EarthBoxes this past spring, and plan to add more for growing in their new EarthBox greenhouse.
Mr. Hyre expressed gratitude for the grant from West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services that allowed them to found the program, and is looking forward to a year of even more EarthBox bounty in 2013.
The Preston County Sheltered Workshop Community Rehabilitation Program's mission is to provide work evaluation, sheltered employment, and related services for persons with disabilities, and ultimately to train and place these individuals in jobs.
For more information on this organization, visit www.pcsworkshop.com.
For more information on starting your own EarthBox project, click here or contact our Education Department at 1-800-821-8838, ext. 8369.
Modern technology makes it a lot easier to start seeds than it used to be. Take this simple little device: the Hydrofarm Window Sill Heat Mat.
Just plug it in, put your seed trays or starter pots on top, and it'll provide uniform warmth while they germinate. It's ideal when you don't have much space to spare, because it really does fit right on the windowsill, and the bottom heat it provides will improve both germination rates and rooting. It measures three inches wide by 20 inches long.
We Have a Winner!
We've chosen the latest winner in our ongoing contest! This month's winning photo comes from Karen Cooper of Powder Springs, Georgia.
Says Karen, "My fall EarthBox garden. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Romaine and Bibb lettuce. Here is just one small sampling of the many crops I grew."
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.
To place an order, call us at 866-727-5532 (24/7) or visit our online store. We accept PayPal in addition to all major credit cards.
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
We hope you had yourself a fine holiday, and offer greetings for the New Year! We're confident it'll be a fruitful one for all of us.
Now is the time of year when many of us begin planning our new gardens, and some of us start the actual seeding process. We realize you're as eager to get started as we are, so read on to learn some handy tips on the best seed starting practices.
Starting your spring garden seeds indoors offers a number of benefits. Aside from enjoying the sight of your garden sprouting right before your eyes, you can grow many more varieties than you could if you limited yourself to seeding straight into the garden, and you'll get a head start over most gardeners. That way, you can enjoy your harvests earlier, too.
In this article, we provide some key tips for starting seeds indoors, covering the entire process: from choosing seeds, to providing the right lighting, temperature, and watering, to hardening off the seedlings.
Make sure you have a good idea of what to plant, where to plant it, and what types of containers you'll be using before you order your first seed. You should also make sure that both your seeding and growing locations will be able to provide adequate temperature and light. Once you have your seeds, read the seed packet instructions carefully, so you'll know exactly what the plant's needs are.
You have several options for seedling pots. First, you can make your own from old newspapers using our Potmaker. Otherwise, you can easily purchase plastic cell packs, which you can reuse next year if properly sterilized with diluted bleach. You can also use peat pots (which can be planted directly into the ground since they're biodegradable), or peat pellets. If you reuse older pots, be sure they're sterilized first, and have drainage holes in the bottoms.
You also have a choice of various growth media to use as a germinating medium. Anything on our Approved Growing Medium list should work; don't use topsoil or garden soil. The medium should be sterile, fine-textured, loose, and well-aerated. Because most commercial growing media have low fertility, water your seeds with a fertilizer solution diluted to 1/4 to 1/2 strength after germination.
Start your seeds 4-12 weeks before your area's last spring frost. You may want to keep the seedlings inside for an extra week after that, just in case Mother Nature throws a late freeze at you. If you sow the seeds too early, they may not be able to thrive due to insufficient light and temperature.
Each type of plant has its minimum, maximum, and optimal lighting and temperature conditions for germination and growth speed. For example, tomato seeds need a germination temperature of at least 50º F, with a maximum of 95°F; the optimum is 80°F. Your seed packets will typically list optimum temperatures for germination. You can help insure optimum temperatures by using a heat mat.
Since plants basically eat light, some seeds require it for germination. Check your seed packets for specific requirements. You can provide extra light with fluorescent fixtures suspended 6-12 inches above the seed pots for 16+ hours per day. Otherwise, you can place them in a south-facing window, supplemented with a windowsill heat mat. If you do use artificial lighting, be sure to raise the lights as the plants grow.
All germinating seeds require an adequate, continuous supply of moisture; once they've germinated, never let the soil dry out completely. Start by moistening the planting medium thoroughly, and then spraying the planted pots with a fine mist. Alternately, you can place them in a shallow tray or pan containing about one inch of water, so that the plants can wick it up from the bottom as they need it. Don't overwater, and be sure to provide enough air circulation to prevent damping off. Indirect or artificial lighting is best at this point, so the plants won't overheat.
If you don't seed directly into individual containers, then you'll need to transplant the seedlings into their own pots after they've become well established. The best time to do this is about 2-3 weeks after seeding, when they produce their first true leaves.
Plants need to undergo a period of "hardening off," in which you gradually accustom them to the outdoor conditions by decreasing temperature, relative humidity, and watering. Start at least two weeks before planting by placing the plants outside in a protected spot on a warm day for a short while. Slowly increase the amount of time they're outdoors, day by day. If the temperature drops below 45°F or it's windy, leave your plants indoors.
Once you've successfully hardened off your seedlings, it's time to transplant them into your EarthBoxes or other containers. Choose a warm day for the transfer, and make sure you water them in thoroughly. After that, allow the built-in EarthBox watering system to do its job.
For an outline of the entire seeding process, along with a table of germinating information for a large number of plants, check this article from North Carolina State University.
||Retailer of the Month
This month we salute Esposito's Garden Center of Tallahassee, Florida.
"Working in retail, we tend to hear more about things that didn't work -- but with EarthBox, our customers tell us how happy they are," notes Mike Hagerud, Esposito's manager. "So when new customers inquire about EarthBox, we tell them that many gardeners return for several more after a great first growing season."
Mr. Hagerud says their decision to stock EarthBoxes four years ago was customer-directed. "Our seasoned gardeners were enthused about them, after seeing promotions and ads."
Esposito's guides growers with container gardening seminars, and they plan to offer an EarthBox-specific workshop this spring. Mr. Hagerud says suggesting accessories such as insect netting and the staking system also helps insure customers will have satisfying experiences. "This leads to loyalty," he adds.
At Esposito's, EarthBoxes are displayed with the raised beds -- a great tie-in. "They're particularly appealing to those who want a garden without being overwhelmed. And our hydroponics aisle is across from that section. Customers who buy hydroponics products also show interest in EarthBoxes.
"From a grower's standpoint, we are pleased with the EarthBox's performance, and from a retail perspective, EarthBox is a great growing system for the novice and the veteran gardener alike," says Mr. Hagerud.
The full range of EarthBox products, including regular and organic kits, EarthBox Junior, the Minigarden, and accessories are available at Esposito's. Their usual stocking periods are spring, fall, and in December, when they become the largest gardening-related Christmas outlet in the area, and sell a large number of EarthBoxes as gifts.
Visit Esposito's at 2743 Capital Circle Northeast, Tallahassee, FL.
Call 850-386-2114 or visit www.espositogardencenter.com for more information.
||Fresh from the Forum
If you're looking for something tasty and fast-maturing to plant in your EarthBoxes in January, may we suggest micro-greens? As the name suggests, these are young salad greens that you can harvest within as little as two weeks. For more information and some good links to valuable sources, check out this discussion on the forum.
||What's Growing on Facebook
There's a New Year parsley party
going on for Beth in western North Carolina -- with both chive and Greek
oregano attending! Don't all those greens look mighty tasty?
For those of you who live too far North to keep growing plants outdoors as Beth's doing, learn how to winterize your EarthBox with these helpful video tips from Frank.
||From Our Customers
This month's photo comes from active EarthBox forum member "Garden Doc." Here's what he has to say:
"Frosty yesterday morning. The winter garden is taking shape with various greens. Transplanted 25 EarthBoxes this afternoon!"
Ocean Springs, MS
The wonderful photos and stories about EarthBox gardening that appear in this space every month come to us from folks like you. Just send us an email with your photos and a description, along with your name, planting zone, and city, and we'll take it from there. We can't guarantee your picture will be published, but it may very well be!
||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!
||Join Our Online Community
Join fellow EarthBox growers on Facebook or our Forum for interesting gardening discussions, EarthBox offers and resources, and to view awesome photos. Your fellow EarthBoxers are a wonderful source of information, always willing to advise you on your EarthBox issues!
Gardening with children in EarthBoxes? Find ideas for growing in or outside
the classroom on our Education Department Facebook page, in the Education section of our Forum, and in these videos.
You don't have to be an educator to find inspirational ideas on growing plants with youngsters. Videos are a members only feature, so if you're not already a Facebook member, you'll need to sign up.
You can also view tutorial videos on combination plantings, replanting your EarthBox, winterizing your EarthBox, and more on our EarthBox videos page.