I apologize if this shows up twice in the forum. I just posted it and it said it didn't work. When I checked, it wasn't there, so I am trying again.
The link to the pictures is at the bottom of this missive.
As I did last year, I am taking pictures of the Earthboxes and their cousins to document growth as the year goes on. I have persisted in challenging the Earthboxes and their capacity limits. I confess, I might have overdone it this time. I've got 3 pumpkins in one Earthbox. You can't even see the Earthbox anymore! I've also been preparing for drought since December. We've expanded our water barrel capacity to 13 at the moment with 3 more to be attached as soon as some more parts arrive. Our city water costs are prohibitive so these are a necessity. We went 6 weeks without any rain last year at one point. If it is coming down this year, it is our intention to capture it! You'll also see our new attempt at another staking system. At the top of each corner pole is another hole which will accept the addition of another pole so we can keep going if necessary.
Another big change for us this year is flipping the yard. Yup! We had everything backward. Because of the way the yard receives sunlight, we need to plant against the house and move outward to the middle. Anything after that is in the shade of a 5 foot high brick fence and a 2-story condo unit immediately behind us. Dismantling our previous attempt at garden beds is rather laborious but I am slowly getting it done. We needed them moved to make room to walk on that side. I am developing a path between the boxes. Thankfully, if I'm wrong, I can just move the boxes! Flexibility is another wonderful aspect of this approach - especially when you do not really know what you are doing!
I parked 4 of our tall water barrels against the brick and decided I would plop an Earthbox filled with tomatoes on top of it. Not a good move. After only one day, some of the leaves on the tomato plants were burned by the heat from the brick. They were saved by a strong wind that made me move the tomatoes to a more sheltered area. That was when I discovered the damage from the brick.
In the pictures I've posted, you will also see a monster-sized Earthbox cousin. It was on its way to being a water barrel when I looked at it and decided to turn it into a garden container. It has around a 25 gallon capacity in the water reservoir. I've done two of these with two more on the way. I wasn't sure about the wicking. I delayed the second one 7 days to test whether the plants would die. I had shoved in quite a variety. They survived so out came number two with a modification of the centralized wicking system to a decentralized approach. The second one, planted yesterday, will have experienced Earthbox users shaking their heads at my insanity if I tell you just how many plants I put in it. Yes, indeed, just take her away now and put her in a padded room where she cannot hurt herself.....or the plants! I will see just how much punishment one of these can take.
I've also dispersed plant types more this year so the same plants are not next to each other. Last year, I fought the battle against fungus more than I would have liked. I've raised up the squash families to give them great access to air currents - not that we really get much wind on a regular basis in this part of South Carolina - at least not by prairie standards. Some bug is busy eating the large leaves on my Chinese cabbage but not touching the smaller ones. Nor is it going after the other cabbages in the yard. I've decided to watch for it but not intervene yet. Other than that, no sign of trouble yet. I live in dread of the squash borer. I've been inspecting the stems as best I can but no sign of eggs.
A local women's magazine insisted on including me in their feature on women gardeners for their April issue. I told them I was the antithesis of a gardener but they insisted. The result has been even more interest in what I was doing than before and I was already answering lots of questions! A number of people keep track of my efforts on Facebook as I post pictures there, too. A friend bought an Earthbox this year and has never before planted anything. I gave her some salad greens I had started so she could reap the benefits immediately. She has one challenge ahead. She forgot that one of the plants I gave her was a pumpkin for her nephew's traditional garden. Instead, she put that in the box along with 2 tomato plants and the salad greens. I didn't know what she had done until she sent me a picture yesterday and asked me to identify the huge plant trying to take over. Someone had told her it was broccoli. I informed her she the Earthbox was about to give birth to pumpkins, she took it in stride and is looking forward to the results. She's now contemplating a couple of more Earthboxes. Another woman phoned me yesterday to say that she had purchased an Earthbox several years ago but had never used it. She said my efforts were inspiring her to get it out of storage. I'm encouraging them all to hook into the forum. Despite my protestations that I am just learning, people think I actually know what I'm doing. I keep telling them it's not me, it's the Earthbox approach. In fact, one woman on Facebook last night asked if I would be willing to share my secret. Yes, indeed, I will - Earthboxes!
I believe that's it for the update thus far. Now, I must slap on some insect repellent and head outside to work on prepping two more boxes before I head off to a community project this afternoon.