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Re: Earth Boxes

  • Subject: [cg] Re: Earth Boxes
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 19:39:49 -0800 (PST)

About Earth Boxes:

Here is a very clever homemade version:

http://www.josho.com/Earthbox.htm

Even if you don't make it, it shows how they work.

A cheaper way to accomplish much the same thing would
be to use gro-bags (the BBC has a good basic primer):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/growfruitandveg_usingagrowingbag.shtml

Fertilization in either system (or any kind of
gardening) can be successfully handled 'organically'
or 'synthetically' - the nutrient ions themselves are
the same, no matter whether they come from chemical
fertilizer or a certified organic product (feather
meal, bone meal, etc...).  I think an organic approach
has many advantages, but that's especially true when
using it to build soil - which you don't really have
to care about with the box or bag. An organic approach
usually does cost more, and requires more materials
(since the concentration of 'macro' nutrients (NPK) is
generally lower).

Personally, unless there is some major problem finding
suitable land (absolutely no space; contaminated
soils, endemic disease in soil, etc.), I prefer
gardening in a garden.

One hidden cost of these systems is that management
demands are relentless. The plants are totally reliant
on the technology working correctly and on your care.
They are 'boy in a bubble' techniques. For starters,
you need to come up with a suitable soil (or soil-less
medium) to fill your box/bag. Then, there is watering,
troubleshooting, etc, etc.

You also won't create a garden with these - You'll
grow plants as 'crop machines' in a little factory of
plastic boxes or sacks that cranks out a product for
sale or consumption. Gardens as gathering places,
environmental greening, places of transformation and
beauty - you won't find much of that down this path. I
suggest being cautious, and really trying to envision
what you'll be ending up with.

Good luck, keep us posted,

Don B, Charlotte, NC

(What UN agency is advocating them? In Peace Corps, I
surely didn't see materials and resources that would
make this approach cost-effective in Togo, except
maybe for selling European veggies to expats in Lome,
the capital - and that would come only at the cost of
market share for traditional truck gardeners working
in the soil and composting wastes).


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