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Texas Gardening: Anyone using "earth boxes" in Tyler, Texas area?

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wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 29, 2005
3:05 PM

Post #1505691

Hi...I am new to Dave's Garden. I live in Tyler, Texas and ordered some "earth boxes" last week. Does anyone in Tyler or nearby use them?
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 29, 2005
11:48 PM

Post #1506489

Greetings, wysocki1, and welcome to the garden! Surely if someone from your area has them, they will come along soon.

I'm not from your area, but I did buy one a couple of years ago, when all my pines were taken out and I finally had some sun! I planted a couple of tomato plants, got LOTS of growth, but very few tomatos. I suspect that only one of the problems had to do with the planter: they say in the instructions to place the fabric cover over the soil with the black side up. The instructions tell Floridians to place the white side up. I think it's too hot here to use the black side, suspect the roots were just too hot. I think that the main reason I didn't have success is that I don't know diddly about growing tomatos!! I've been told one problem was that the flowers were not getting pollinated, someone else told me I should have added... something, I don't remember... to the soil. Anyway, I've been so busy working to build and establish my flower beds the last two summers, I haven't tried it again - yet. I do intend to, and this time I'll have fellow DG'ers to help me (I didn't before)!

Be sure to let us know how it works out! What are you planning to plant? How many containers did you get?
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 30, 2005
12:41 PM

Post #1507428

Hi, maggiemoo...Thanks for the response. I had already decided to put the white side up for the mulch cover based on what some others had said on the "container gardening" thread about "earth boxes". I ordered five! When I get them (it takes 2-3 weeks to receive them), I already have some green bell pepper plants to put in. They started growing ages ago in the window of my spare bedroom. Other than that, I don't know. I'll see what I can find at the nursery. I would like to try butternut squash, sugar snap peas, cantaloupe, and tomato. I will also use one for flowers if I don't use them all for veggies. I have quite a few regular containers with flowers, and they're doing ok; but I'm not great at knowing when/how much to water them. Some are getting too much water, and some are not getting enough. So, I figure with the earth box I won't have to worry about that. Well, have a great day. I will let you know how I get along with the earth boxes once I get them going.

Wysocki3
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2005
1:26 PM

Post #1507509

Hi, Wysocki3. I'm not in the Tyler area either, but I am using earthboxes. Last year I had one box that grew a good crop of sweet potatoes so I got five more. I'm running an experiment with an heirloom tomato "Box Car Willie." I set out five plants in a regular bed and two in an earthbox on the same day. Thus far the EB plants are slightly larger but the real difference is in the stems. The EB plants have thicker, sturdier main structures.

Maggiemoo, tomatoes often blossom during hot weather but will not set fruit when the temperature stays consistently above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The American Horticultural Society developed the heat zone map to complement the USDA's hardiness map, and over a decade of record keeping went into the research. So in late July, all of August and early September I just figure my tomato plants are taking a siesta. Some people pull the plants out and set out seedlings for fall production, but my plants wake up and provide lots of tomatos until frost, sometimes well into December.

maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 30, 2005
3:08 PM

Post #1507782

Yuska, thanks for the info. The problem I had early in the year was that I'd get all kinds of blossoms, but very few would develop into tomatos. The few that did would grow to about golf-ball size, and then just sit there, never ripening or getting larger. I don't remember what I planted, but it was one that was recommended for the Houston area. I probably just need to get over it, and try again (as I said, I didn't know diddly about growing tomatos, what I left out was that I didn't know diddly about growing anything back then!) It's too late for now, but what about the fall? When should I plant for that crop?
araness
Auburn, AL
(Zone 8a)

May 30, 2005
3:21 PM

Post #1507813

Wy come on over to the Tomato forum and I'll introduce you around. King could help out as well as Tplant. He's in zone 10 but he knows tons about EB's.

Saint
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 30, 2005
4:13 PM

Post #1507986

Hi people...It's fun hearing from different people. This is my first year gardening, and I am not a youngster. My hubbie and I built our first house last year. We've been in it for 10 months. The acreage that we built on was mostly woods; we had it cleared out. What a mess. Since we don't know what we are doing (we are learning, though) and because our soil isn't too good, I thought it would be best to work with mostly containers. We have planted shrubs and some trees (apples, plums, redbud). My husband even planted 14 blueberry bushes and a lot of blackberries. One reason that I asked if there were any "Tylerites" using "earth boxes" is that I hoped that I might be able to see one "in person". I wonder if there is anyone around here that uses them. Does it take a while for people to respond to new threads? Of course, it is a holiday weekend. Well, I have to go use my new grass shears around the bottom of all my containers where the lawnmower can't reach. Have a nice Memorial Day.
Saint, I think I will use the "nickname" ( Wy ) that you gave me.
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2005
4:16 PM

Post #1507997

The extension people here recommend setting out the fall seedlings during the last week of July. Just about any variety should do okay, except beefsteak types which have a different interior structure and have different temp requirements. Our local nurseries have a supply of seedlings at that time - yours probably do also.
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 30, 2005
4:31 PM

Post #1508029

Thanks Yuska! (Duh! Why didn't I think about the extension office?) :-)

Wy (much easier to type!), I did a search of subscribers, and found a few in Tyler: (scroll down a little) http://davesgarden.com/memberlist/viewby.php?area=state&arg1=tx&sort=country&o=asc&showonlysubbers=1&offset=350

Keep in mind that while most people list their locations, not all do, so there may be others. Also, you'll know what cities are close to you, so you can check those out. It doesn't usually take long for people to respond to posts, but when you are very specific about a location, you'll certainly get fewer responses, as fewer people will look at the post (although you can see that doesn't stop some of us!) :-)
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 30, 2005
5:24 PM

Post #1508135

Wy, I just stumbled onto this thread in Container Gardening, about EB's, good info!

http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/472214/
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 31, 2005
12:52 PM

Post #1510108

Thanks, Maggiemoo (hey, since I shortened my name to "Wy", you should shorten yours to "Moo"!)
I will check out the thread on EB's and look through the list of subscribers. I just learned yesterday at one of the plant farms in my area that it is too hot now to set out new tomato plants here (we already hit 100 degrees a couple of times - this is not quite normal). Now I know by reading the above info from Yuska that I can plant some seedlings later on this year. Thanks.
Wy
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 31, 2005
3:30 PM

Post #1510430

After reading through the thread on EB's I'm determined to try again. It's a pretty good testimonial that some have had theirs for 10 or more years and they're still working great, and most people order more after trying them out. I do think I will try the tomatoes for a fall crop. Some people said they got more and better tomatos when they planted just one to a box instead of two.

I guess I'll answer to "Moo", people have called me all kinds of things over the years. When people shorten it in DG, most call me Maggie. I actually picked Maggiemoo for my DG name because 1) the name I wanted to use was already taken, and 2) under the immense pressure of having to come up with a name, I used the name I call my favorite rose when I talk to it (it's a Maggie rose, I call it Maggiemoo - my other Maggie rose is Maggietoo.) The name on my birth certificate is Mary, but the day I was born I was promptly nick-named Buffy by a sister who mispronounced my middle name (Beth). Now you know the sad story. I was called Buffy before the Family Affair TV show, before "valley girls" and the vampire slayer, before the country music singer Buffy St Marie (I never even heard of her before we moved to TX.) You've found me out!
;-)
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 2, 2005
3:07 AM

Post #1515228

Hi, Moo...I ordered the 5 earth boxes last Monday on the 23rd. I didn't realize that it would take two to three weeks to receive them. I'm afraid that by the time I receive them, the pepper plants will have expired. I water them and even fertilize them, but they really need a larger home. I may just wait until late summer or even next year after the last frost to use the other ones. I, too, was impressed with the good testimonials in regard to EB's; that's why I finally ordered them. I do believe that they will be as good as everyone says. It may take some practice with them to make them do their thing. I picked the name "wysocki3" because I like the work of the folk artist "charles wysocki" and because until recently I had 3 cats. I now have 4 cats. If you look in the puzzle section at Wal Mart, you might find some puzzles that have wysocki's artwork.
I guess that there aren't any users of EB's that are subscribers to DG's that live in Tyler. I did notice that there are 4 other Tylerites and 4 people from Longview (about 35 minutes east).
Bye. Wy (it sounds as if I am asking the question, "Why?")
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

June 2, 2005
3:36 AM

Post #1515372

"Why ask why?" :-)

Moo

(ps, If I remember correctly, my EB's got to me sooner than the 2-3 weeks, so maybe they won't be too late. Even if, you have start some kind of fall crop with me, okay?)
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 2, 2005
1:17 PM

Post #1515924

Hi, Wy and Moo - I don't mean to hijack this thread, but a cousin sent me some pictures of her visit to the Tyler Rose Garden. What a beautiful place! I'd like to visit it, too.

A couple of comments on the EB's - you can also get them through the National Gardening Asociation (same price) and usually get faster shipment. I got my last ones in just over a week. And remember - even though they are heavy when filled, they can be moved - a large dolly or low-bed cart is useful. If you have an unheated sun porch, you can grow winter crops - any of the brassicas will do well. And you can grow Swiss chard even outdoors - it is perennial here.
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

June 2, 2005
3:03 PM

Post #1516149

Yuska, brassicas? What are those? (Oops! My ignorance is showing.)

Yes, I've always wanted to go to the Tyler Rose gardens, also. Have you been, Wy?
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 2, 2005
3:31 PM

Post #1516228

They're also known as cole crops, and include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts. An advantage to growing them in winter, and especially in an enclosed space, is few if any insect pests to deal with.
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 2, 2005
4:39 PM

Post #1516392

Hi Moo...Yes, I have been to the Rose Garden many times. It's only about 10 or so minutes from my house. It's especially nice in May and June before it gets too hot. It's gorgeous. If you and Yuska ever come up, let me know and we can meet there and have a picnic. There is also a nice "regular" flower garden that I like to look at because it has flowers that grow well in this area. It's free, so I can go anytime even if just for the exercise. I called the EB people this morning; my earth boxes will arrive this Saturday (6/4) which is just a little less than two weeks. So, I will get those peppers in this weekend. I'm willing to use the EB's for a fall crop. You and Yuska will have to give me some ideas. Can I grow butternut squash in the fall? We can talk more about this as the summer goes by.
Yuska...my son is stationed at Lackland A.F.B. Well, goodbye. Wy
maggiemoo
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

June 2, 2005
5:00 PM

Post #1516447

Ooo! I'll have to try some broccoli! Do you know how many broccoli plants can be grown in one EB?

Wy, it's a deal. Now I just have to get myself up there.
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 2, 2005
8:37 PM

Post #1516973

The EB comes with an instruction folder that has diagrams for placing plants. Broccoli is shown with spacing for eight plants. With broccoli, you can cut just the main head well above the root and the plant will grow side shoots that can be harvested a bit later. Spacing for peppers is also shown as eight plants. Peppers should really thrive in EB's with the controlled moisture and temps. Those of us in Texas heat should probably use the white side of the cover up. For winter growing, maybe the black side up...I'll need to research that.

Wy, we are pleased here in San Antonio to be known as Military City. We lost Kelly AF Base in the last BRAC round and will likely lose Brooks this time. Also the Wilford Hall trauma center is probably on the chopping block. But we still have Lackland and Randolph AF Bases, and the Brooke Army Medical Center that is world famous for its burn treatment technology. And the Army's Fort Sam Houston is now the headquarters for Army South. Great bunch of folks who help make this a special place to live.

This message was edited Jun 2, 2005 3:39 PM

This message was edited Jun 2, 2005 3:48 PM
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 2, 2005
8:44 PM

Post #1516985

Yuska...I tried going to nationalgardeningassociation.com, but I couldn't find where to order EB's. What did I do wrong?
Wy
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 2, 2005
9:16 PM

Post #1517035

Go to http://garden.org/home, click NGA Garden Shop on the right. Next page click Container Gardening on the left. However, I think the price has gone up...will have to find my invoice...think my order was less.
wysocki3
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 2, 2005
10:03 PM

Post #1517151

I found the place. Yikes! Their price is $10.00 more per EB. I guess it's worth the wait. Thanks.
Wy
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 2, 2005
11:19 PM

Post #1517321

Yep. Sorry...I should have rechecked their listing before mentioning the source. Too bad...that has been a good place to work with in the past.

earthling

earthling
Rowlett, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 4, 2005
8:14 PM

Post #1521961

Hi there..I am a little west of you and this is my first year with the earth boxes..I have tomatoes in one, peppers in another and green beans in the last.. The green beans are taking over the patio, the peppers (bell and banana) are not doing well..the banana peppers seem to want to get rot spots when they are 1/2 grown...the tomatoes are doing pretty good, but I think I waited too long before I got them started. Then while planting them I added the fertilizer to the soil instead of spreading it on the top..I scooped some out and then spread some on top..(LOL..comedy of errors here) but I think it was too much and one of the plants died. So, I pulled it out and scooped all the dirt, fertilizer, lime from that side and started over. The second time it worked better, but I also bought some back up tomatoes for other containers just in case..(cant say I have a lot of confidence in my abilities here.)

So, thats the update from my part of the world. Oh, yes, I also took off the covering from the peppers because I had black side up and I think I was cooking them alive. They are getting wilty every day and not due to lack of water. When I stuck my finger in the soil, I could feel how hot it was. Well, we learn from our mistakes, huh? This was just a big experiment this year, next year I will know better what to do and how to do it.

Kris
Yuska
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 9, 2005
4:23 PM

Post #1534004

Hi, Kris. Yes I definitely agree that the instructions should not limit the white side to "desert areas and Florida" - Texas as well as some other places should get heat reflected away from the plants. The folks who wrote the instructions would no doubt be horrified to know that I'm experimenting without any cover on a couple of boxes! One of my very favorite veggies is asparagus, and while it will grow here it is a pathetic ghost of what it is farther north. Two deeply dug beds that I started four years ago have barely managed to hang on, but have not grown spears large enough to cut. So I started new plants this spring in a couple of EB's and set out some new plants in the regular beds. Can't use the covers since asparagus just comes up willlynilly. Thus far the EB plants have more fronds but are still rather fragile looking. My experiment may not work out, but "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

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