Planting a garden in the drought filled water-starved wilds of suburbia can be a challenge. In Chicagoland, for instance, we have had a month of 95 degree Fahrenheit days and higher with nearly three months of drought. This week we saw 102 degrees. I stepped outside my front door and my eyelids melted onto my eyeballs and I had trouble blinking. I wish I were kidding.
With this in mind, any genius planting solution which enables a gardener to water less is worth its weight in gold. I, however, am not big on gimmicks. I want the REAL DEAL. I want a drought tolerant planting solution that really works and that is so simple anyone could use it. I met Ken McDowell, a rep from The Garden Patch GrowBox company at P. Allen Smith’s #G2B12 event a few months ago. Ken sent out a few GrowBoxes to me saying how “miraculous” they were. I laughed heartily and rolled my eyes in disbelief but agreed to give them a try.
HOW TO PLANT A GROW BOX -
- Fill the GrowBox with your favorite potting soil (I use this SECRET MIX) and lay a row of fertilizer down the middle of the planter on top of the soil.
- Cut holes for your plants (following the directions for planting by numbers included with the container) and lay the planting patch over the top of the soil and fertilizer.
- Plant your plants and add water. Keep the water reservoir filled with water throughout the growing season.
I added a secret ingredient to the containers – I was concerned that the fill hole was open so mosquitoes could lay eggs in the standing water. I created a hole cover by cutting up an old planter liner and stuffing a bit of the liner into each container hole. It was an easy solution instead of spending money on a mosquito dunk. According to Ken and his team, the boxes are made from restaurant grade plastics, so are safe to grow vegetables in.
Are you ready for the shocker? THE GROW BOX SYSTEM WORKS. I only watered the system planters once every two weeks – three weeks if we had a rain in mild summer temperatures. In hot summer temperatures I have been filling the reservoirs about once every week and a half. All the other plants in my garden have had to be watered heavily once every other day or so. The Bonnie lettuce in the Grow Box is twice as large as my other lettuces because they have a constant source of water.
My only qualm about the design of the planter is I am not fond of reading the lettering of the soil cover. Up on my balcony where no one dares go it was okay, but I flipped it upside down to the wordless side for the planters next to my main pathway. However, I found out that if it rains the reverse side of the cover gets a bit moldy and unattractive. Grow Box Management – I think you should have the planting by numbers printed on the back side of the liner, not the top side. It would be more attractive.
This test has been an eye-opener for me. I did not believe the Grow Box planters would effectively be drought conservative and use less water. After testing it out I will definitely use the boxes again and felt the plants were more successful than the plants I planted in the ground. Thanks Grow Box, for helping me discover a new product that works.
*Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am noting that attendees at Garden2Blog 2012 including myself received transportation, accommodations and meals during the event. Event sponsors such as The Grow Box provided samples and product giveaways at no cost or obligation for testing. No one paid me to say anything about their products – all opinions are my own. Also, I am letting you know that Bonnie Plants, Organic Mechanics Soil and Natural Industries supplied the plants, soil, and soil additives I used in this garden post. I donate a large portion of the vegetables I grow in my soil-improved garden to the local food pantry when harvested.