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Does The GrowBox Container Garden System Work?

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GrowBox planters growing on Shawna Coronado's balcony
GrowBox illustration

Grow Boxes – do they work? Planting a garden in the drought filled water-starved wilds of suburbia can be a challenge.  In Chicagoland, for instance, we had hot temperatures of 95 degree Fahrenheit and higher with nearly three months of drought. I stepped outside my front door and my eyelids melted onto my eyeballs and I had trouble blinking when the temps got up to 102. 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 and want the REAL DEAL. Just like you, 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 company a while back. Ken sent out a few GrowBoxes to me saying how “miraculous” they were. (FYI – this was at no cost.) I laughed heartily and rolled my eyes in disbelief but agreed to give them a try.

GrowBox Pre Planting System
GrowBox Organic Mechanic Soil Adding


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 the comapny, the boxes are made from restaurant grade plastics, so are safe to grow vegetables in.

GrowBox Prevent Mosquitoes Stuffing

The Results of the Grow Box System Container Garden Experiment

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 lettuce in the Grow Box is twice as large as my other lettuces because they have a constant source of water.

My only qualm – besides the potential for mosquitoes – about the design of the planter is I am not fond of reading the lettering of the soil cover. It is unattractive. 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.

GrowBox Rows
GrowBox Watering

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  1. I wish they were more attractive! I’m thrilled that they worked, I’d love to try them. Maybe next year. Can you cover that printing with a mulch?

  2. I have a smaller version of the grow box for a tiny herb garden–don’t know who makes it but I bought it at Wal-Mart. Anyway, I think I must be doing something wrong because my herbs, especially the basil, are hardly growing at all. Also, since it is smaller I have to fill the reservoir every day because of the high temps lately–we’re heading for a record-breaking heat wave this summer. Yuck. @S_Lucero

  3. I bought Eartgboxes, which are very similar but I struggled with bottom end rot, I even used more lime, but the heat of the summer was still to stressful for my poor peppers. I have read a lot of post from people with the same problem. Anyone have any thoughts?

  4. Hi Daniel,

    I have not had a problem with bottom end rot at all, however, that can be caused by irregular water issues and we have had a drought through most of the country over this summer. SO – it could be that your boxes have dried out in between too much or your tomatoes have suffered stress somehow which has caused a calcium deficiency that leads to bottom end rot.


  5. The boxes got so hot, I think that the water got so hot it damaged the roots. They had plenty of water. I also added plenty of hydrated lime to get calicum levels up. The only thing I could caulk it up to is the stress of heat. They couldnt take the heat without the ground to keep the roots cool.

  6. Wow. That’s hot. I didn’t have that problem and we had 90 to 100 degree temps all summer and the boxes were in full sun. SO – I don’t think I have an answer for you in relationship to this.

    I would contact the company directly and ask them their thoughts.


  7. Hi Shawna – I’ve communicated with Ken in the past and did a review of the boxes last year. I grew tomatoes and peppers which did very well. I would add, once the plants were mature, they could drain the reservoir in the course of a day. From full at 5:30 am to dry by 6 pm. These boxes work, but they need monitoring just like any garden. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hi David,

    I never had this issue. They pretty much stayed watered much longer than that even when the plants were at full height.


  9. Are the growboxes deep enough for your tomato plants? And did you just stake them in the boxes. Also how many tomato plants can you put in each grow box?
    Thank you, Kathy

  10. Yes, the growboxes are deep enough for the tomato plants. Stake them in the boxes. One tomato plant unless they are small tomato plant varieties, then more than one.

  11. These boxes work fine but they are mosquito farms. Tried to plug the fill hole but the top half of this two piece planter does not seat perfectly on the bottom half so the buggers still get in. After two years I gave up on them. They do grow veggie’s like the dickens though. They sell dunks to put in the water but I’m skeptical about adding something like that to the water my vegetables are drinking up.

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