homemade and cheap

Where technology and creativity meet.

There's no secret to this, designs are readily available all over the net. All I'm doing is documenting the way I built mine. Step-by-step, with photos.



April 10-12th, 2008


The purpose of this page is to document the construction, performance and results of building and

 growing vegetables in a homemade version of the commercially available product called the Earthbox.


Bought the ingredients to make two earthboxes.


Four totes - Wal-Mart

Four paint mixing cups - Wal-Mart

Two water filler pipes - Home Depot

Six cu. ft. Miracle Grow - Wal-Mart

10-10-10 Fertilizer - Wal-Mart


Totes     Cups and Pipes


Cups     Pipes


fertilizer     miracle grow


April 14th, 2008


Bought tomato and pepper plants at Koenig's Nursery on Mexico Road.

These are the plants I'll be using for this test.


Better Boy (VFN) F-1 Hybrid

California Wonder Sweet Bell




April 16th, 2008


Construction begins.

Set one tote on the counter and using a wicking cup
and a Sharpie, draw a line all the way around the base.

Set another tote on the counter and draw about a 3" line on both
ends as a reference for where the overflow holes will be drilled later.

Base Line     Overflow reference line

Now take the first tote, the one with the solid line all the way around and
flip it over. Use a wicking cup to draw the two circles for where they will mount.

Also, make four reference marks on the tote and the wicking cup for four
holes to accept plastic ties for holding the cups in place during final assembly.

(NOTE: My first mistake... Don't mark the holes on the wicking cups yet. The cups go
on the inside of the water chamber, so wait until later to mark and drill these holes.)

Now take the tote outside and drill the plastic tie and aeration holes being careful not to drill
any closer than about 3/4" of where the cutout will be for the wicking cups. I used a1/4" drill bit.

This is also a good time to drill the hole for the fill tube in the water chamber. I used a 7/8" hole saw.

Wiking basket circles     Aeration holes

Now I'll switch over to the lid and mark it for cutting. I drilled a couple
of pilot holes to make it easier to get the jigsaw started. (not shown)

I'm leaving the center section across the lid for support. It will hopefully
keep the potting mix from bowing out the sides from it's weight.
It will also provide support for the watering tube.

Marking the lid     Lid cut out

April 17th, 2008


I used a jigsaw to cut the holes for the wicking cups and to cut off the water chamber.



Cutting the wicking holes     Bottom finished

Notice on the below right photo I have made marks for relief cuts 2" long on each corner of the bottoms.

The reason I did this is during a trial fit they would buckle pretty bad when forced down into

position in the bottom of the tote. This relieves the buckling somewhat but not completely.

Bottom cut off     Relief Cuts

Now I'll mark the location where the fill tube hole should be drilled. Put the tube in the bottom hole
and move it back and forth until you're satisfied with the upright position and make a reference mark.
Then simply drill a hole in the center section of the lid across from your reference mark.

Below right, almost done, everything is assembled with the exception of the wicking cups.

Fill tube mark     Almost done

April 20th, 2008


Today we drilled the holes in the wicking cups and mounted them under the water chamber.
I think these pictures are pretty much self explanatory.

Wicking holes     Wicking cup mounted

Wicking cup ties     Wicking cups mounted


April 24th, 2008


Okay, putting on the finishing touches.

First photo on the below left shows a plastic tie on the filler tube. I pushed the tube
all the way to the bottom and pulled it back up two inches. This keeps the tube off
the bottom so water can get into the water chamber while filling. If this doesn't hold
for the entire growing season, I'll just put another tie or just use the reference mark
and pull it up a bit when filling.

Photo on the below right shows how I fastened the lid so it won't pop off
and it will help hold the plastic mulch in place. I used aluminum gutter screws.
Why? Because I had some on hand. Use your imagination.

Plastic Ties     Screws on lid

Below photo shows one of the overflow holes, I drilled one on each end of the tote.
Used a 7/16" drill bit. Drill hole through both the outside and the inside. (water chamber)

Overflow hole

Two photos showing the finished boxes from different angles.
That's all till planting time.

Finished One     Finished Two

May 5th, 2008


Planting time, finally!

Okay, picture one shows box in place and ready to fill.
Picture two shows the plants I will be using.
Bottom two pictures shows plastic bags for mulching
and one of the boxes filled with potting mix and the fertilizer strip.
I used two cups of 10-10-10 spread evenly in a two inch wide
trench about 3/4 inch deep. Then I covered it lightly with the potting mix.
I mixed 2/3 cup of Epsom Salts into the top two to three inches of the
potting mix prior to making the fertilizer strip.

ready to plant     ready to plant 2

ready to plant 3     ready to plant 4

Photos below shows the boxes planted.

Top left is the tomatoes and the top right are the peppers.
Bottom right shows how I rigged a couple of tomato
cages on the deck railing for the tomatoes.

planted 1     planted 2

planted 3     planted 4

I also planted two peppers and a tomato plant under the kitchen window
and am trying cucumbers along side my garage. Not much sun
over there but we'll see what happens.

more 1     more 2





And there you have it, construction through planting.


I'll be taking a few pictures throughout the growing season and

 plan to start a new page for that. I'll place a link here if you're interested.

If you'd like to have a copy of this page in .PDF format,
right lick [HERE] and select save target as.





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