box garden

Tater Box

| April 7, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Easily produce 50 pounds or more, of potatoes in 4 square feet of gardening. The concept is fairly basic. Potatoes produce shoots off of their main root system as the plant grows vertically. Those shoots terminate in a potato.

Every half foot or so of plant growth, cover the potato plant, leaving only a little plant to continue to grow above the surface. The dirt forces the potato plant to grow upwards, as well as no shoots to produce more potatoes.

All you need are potatoes, preferably seed potatoes, and 6 to 8 inch panels of wood in a minimum of 2 foot lengths.

I used 4 foot lengths of ½” by 6” pine, that I cut into 2 foot lengths, and some small penny nails. I am not building the prettiest box, nor am I building the most durable one, so consider making serious improvements for durability.

However, I like to repurpose construction materials when available. Observational research has shown that construction waste can be as high as 10 to 15 percent of the materials that go into a building. So if a broken pallet were available, I’d happily repurpose that.

Nail together the four sides of the box, and set on a level part of your garden where the box can irrigate from the bottom when needed.

Allow your seed potatoes to sprout in a tray prior to planting.

Add a light layer of gravel or wood chip to the bottom of your box to allow it to irrigate. Add a shallow layer of garden soil as the base for your potatoes.

Place your sprouted spuds on the bed of soil with the sprouted plant at the top. Keep them as evenly spaced as possible, and try not to overcrowd them. Cover the entire potatoes, leaving only a tiny bit of each plant exposed above ground.

Monitor plant growth, and water as necessary. Cover the plant at about 8 inch intervals leaving some of the plant exposed. Frame and stack additional levels of the box as necessary to promote plant growth.

*Updates
4 Weeks – At 4 weeks after planting, a new 6 inch level of planter box was added, and compost filled up and around the potato plants. Only the tops of the potato plants were were left exposed above ground to continue upward growth. The update photos are shown in the article.

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A Dirt Cheap Planter Box

| April 4, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

You don’t have to have a huge planter box to benefit from a raised bed style of gardening.

In a fantasy world we’d take the truck, not our everyday commuter, to the home improvement store, and buy upwards of 150 dollars worth of lumber, for a brand new garden box, that we plan on putting on the unused acre of space in our back yard.

While that sounds awesome, it’s not everyone’s reality. It also doesn’t need to be, to reap the benefits of a raised box garden.

I reclaimed a 12 foot 2×8 from a home improvement project, and repurposed it for a small garden box. Specifically, I built mine to improve the soil and irrigation for lettuce, and it just so happens to work very well.

I used a hand saw and cut two 4 foot lengths and two 15 inch lengths out of my reclaimed beam. For durability sake, I’d recommended that you use long wood or decking screws. However, I only need mine to last a single season. I’ll be moving my entire garden to another part of the yard, so I used 3 ½ inch framing nails I had in the garage, which work just fine

After cutting and framing, I grated the dirt under the target location of my box with a shovel until the area was level. I filled the box with a mixture of my own compost, and a half used bag of store bought garden soil.

While my box is pretty basic, narrow and shallow by most standards, and it lacks stakes to support side walls, I actually get two rows of healthy great lakes lettuce comfortably growing in my box. Even better! It took less than half an hour of my time, and an out of pocket cost of Nothing!

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Box Garden Basics

| March 18, 2012
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The first post on box gardening basics

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