Good morning all.
I started gardening with earthboxes in 2004. I live in Central Florida. In 1980 we lived in a small town called Avon Park, Fl. It's best know for the small air force bombing range close by. But the AF shut the bombing range down as far as Air Force military presence. I gardened with my roto tiller and muscle power, enough to more then feed and can the food I grew. I had three large garden plots on the 2 acres we lived on. But it was sosososo hard. I tried to plant directly but water just didn't stay when I watered, leaching right through the sand. So I gathered all my neighbors grass clippings after my kids went to school and toted them home in my little trailer. I started lining each furrow with grass clippings, planting seeds directly on top, and then adding another layer of leaves before covering with sand, I watered and watered. I did get a great garden but I am way over wanting to garden from the build up to the harvest. Earth boxes were what I needed. So we started with five, but immediately filled them with black berry bushes. It was so expensive buying good soil and all the fertilizers. So I got another hundred boxes, and put in a small crop. But I quickly found another 100 boxes necessary to not only eat but to can my produce. Before even the first big harvest in my 200 boxes was hauled in, we were on our way to growing like a small organic farmer. I did all the research I could. I met with the earth box people, meeting Blake Whisenant, the inventor and tomato grower. It was so fascinating hearing his story of being a tomato grower using mules at one time. He lost crops to flooding conditions and it pushed him to create the earthbox, originally for growing tomatoes. He worked for years until the earth box looks like it does today. I met Hoss Morgan, a man who has gone through the trouble of being a certified organic farmer and looked over his many many boxes, learning how his farming was different from what was written for instructions for the small scale gardener. He taught me who I could buy soil from having it mixed to my specs bringing the soil expense way way down. I even buy fertilizer bulk, as well as dolomite. But I learned much more from reading the forum. I scoured it. I was one of those silent ones who just read and never speak or write. I remember someone scolding the many of us who did this and started tentatively asking my questions. I asked so many questions and learned so much. There are some really great people on this forum who offer and help so many. I think they should be gifted with earth boxes for all the help they've given. Take note of this John and Kathy and other earthbox staff. Anyway, I spent hours and hours reading the forum and other cites the forum took me too. I certainly say that without the knowledge, I may not have been able to grow my farm.
I do things differently, from watering, to fertilizing, and growing. I no longer plant some things like corn, it just too hard to grow organically. I no longer try to sell and share my veggies with my neighbors because I spent way too much time trying to sell. I went from total retirement to gardening on a grand scale. I am attempting a 12 row strawberry patch. 12 rows for us means, 12 rows of 27 boxes. I'll make another attempt at some pictures. I actually wanted 10 rows but when I got the 1600 plus plants I didn't fill in plants that didn't make it like I first decided. I'm going to now fill the missing plants with the little plants that are thrown off. They come in a little later but will produce just as well. I'm growing strawberries as a cash crop this year. We give what we don't eat or store to food pantries, shelter homes, and shelters who feed the hungry. I hope to sell enough to pay for the fertilizers and seeds we grow to give away. During our winter garden, we primarily grow one quick season of green beans, followed by spinach and broccoli. We have over 1200 boxes that are being grown for these shelters and food pantries. I would strongly suggest for anyone having an abundance of a harvest to share with the hungry people out there. The one thing they seldom get are veggies. Fresh garden kissed veggies. People live out of cars down here and we've had dozens of thank you's and sometimes a special story comes to us about what we're doing affects others. Like the homeless vet, down on his luck another who told us her kids wouldn't know what fresh veggies tasted like if it weren't for us. They could care less if the tomatoes they got weren't as pretty as possible. Selling to people was a bummer a lot of the time. Veggies not perfect were always picked over even though it was just as tasty as other fruits. I was first put off though of giving away veggies because while they'd happily take veggies I picked, they wouldn't come and help pick with a few strong bodies being less then a mile away from us. We pay for it to be done now. This year I have a young woman who is going to do some community hours helping with the harvest and distribution.
I experiment on something about every years. We plant seeds like green beans directly in the soil. In the past we wouldnít get 100 percent germination this way. Maybe only 60 percent. We now add a small amount of potting soil in the hole we dig to plant a seed filling it with new soil that feeds young plants until their roots are really going good. Doing that this year did give us almost 100 percent germination. But as well as plant in soil I start another 100 seeds at same time in pots as transplants to the boxes where seeds didnít grow. With the addition of the hand full of potting soil with fertilizer this year we didnít really need to do this. Germination was 99 per cent plus so Iíve taken those plants and am experimenting. I now plant only 8 green bean plants per earthbox. I get better harvest. The middle plants now produce much more because thereís more room My experiment this year to to plant only six plants in a bunch of boxes and see what the difference in amount harvested between six seedlings per box and 8 per box. I found 8 gave me more produce then I got from 12 plants per box. With 12 per box the middle plants did not have as much as the ones on the ends. I think thereís too much foliage and it reminds me of what happens when you put two seeds in one hole. You get a lot of foliage but not much fruit/veggies.