The Encyclopedia Hydroponica

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DIY Earth Box 17 May, 2008

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 6:04 pm
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Okay, now before we get started let me just say that this is not my idea. So let’s try to avoid the whole “you stole this from Instructables” thing, alright? Besides, the Instructable I based this on wasn’t done by the inventor of the Earth Box (to my knowledge), so it’s not entirely his idea either. We’re all standing on the shoulders of other men.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, an Earth Box is a really cool way to grow plants in dirt without a lot of mess and fuss. It’s basically like wick hydroponics, except you use dirt (both as the wick and the growing medium). The bottom of the container is divided off and filled with water. One or more columns of dirt are extended down to the bottom of this to absorb water and transport it up to the rest of the container, which is filled with dirt. Plants go up top, and a cover of some kind is generally put on with holes only for the desired plants so that bugs and weeds are discouraged. Finally, a fill pipe goes from the top down to the bottom so that water can be fed directly into the reservoir rather than through the dirt.

It’s a nice self-contained and simple to use system. You can’t overwater and the only way to underwater is to let the reservoir go dry. Another advantage the cover gives is it reduces water loss from evaporation so you grow plants using less water. It’s just a nice solution in many ways.

Now the guys who make the original – which is definitely a very nice product and I’m not suggesting anything else – just don’t make one big enough for my taste. So I saw the Instructable on how to make a bigger one and I liked the idea. Since this was right around Mother’s Day and my mom likes gardening, I decided to make one for her.

For starters, this is a lot cheaper than a commercial Earth Box and offers a lot more root space and growing surface. My mom wanted tomato plants, so we’re not exactly using this particular box’s full potential, but for my money the big feature is the much larger water capacity.

Quick word of warning – the finished product is enormously heavy.

I can’t stress this enough. I didn’t weigh it or anything, but it is significantly heavier than it looks. There is no smart reason to try to lift it yourself. Get help or simply drag it (and even then be cautious. Back injuries suck.) Even better, fill it wherever you want it to be so you don’t have to move it at all.

You can listen to my advice or not – whichever you prefer. Just don’t come crying to me if you give yourself a hernia.

Let’s get to it. You’ll need:

  • 2 Rubbermaid bins (I use 18gal size). $4.50 at Walmart (Don’t use clear “sterilite” type, it’s a PITA to drill or cut.) You only need 1 lid, but the lids come with them so you might as well get two and use the other for a TV tray or something. I’m thinking of building a laptop docking station out of mine (rather than buying one for $250 from HP, the robbers.)
  • Something roughly 1/3rd the height of the bins that can be used as a dirt column. I used a couple ziploc cup things seen below. $2.50 at Walmart. (There are much cheaper alternatives, I was just frustrated and in a hurry and didn’t care about saving a dollar or two.)
  • PVC pipe or similar, taller than your bin. I got 2 feet so it was easier to reach without bending over as much. $2 at hardware store. (Have them cut one end crooked.)
  • Dirt. If you have good dirt use that. If not, buy some. Get good stuff.
  • Fertilizer. Whatever you like, I used coffee grounds from Starbucks – it’s free.
  • Plants.


  • Cap for PVC pipe. Not sure how much this was, the cashier forgot to ring it up so I got mine for free. Oops.
  • Pantyhose. Probably not even all that helpful, honestly. I just had the idea and decided to try it out. Used an old pair my wife didn’t need. Asked her first to avoid long-term couch-surfing.
  • Trellis. If you’re going to grow something that gets tall and needs support, a trellis is a good idea. The one I got didn’t have a price tag on it and to be honest, I didn’t pay attention to the total at the register. They’re cheap. (like a dollar or something).


  • Box cutter. Not the ideal choice for cutting a rubbermaid, but it works. A small electric saw would probably work better and be safer, but a knife works. Just don’t stab yourself *cough* like I did *cough*. Oh, and don’t do something dumber than me, like use a circular saw or chainsaw or something.
  • Power drill. There’s other options here too. Like above, be smart. No guns.
  • Measuring tape. Though for this you could just as easily use a piece of paper and mark it at the length you need. It’s not actually important to know how long anything is, only how long it is compared to other things.
  • Marker. Sharpie, grease pencil, whatever works.

So assuming you build it the way I did and you’ve already got your tools, the whole thing should set you back about $16-18 plus the cost of dirt, plants, etc.


Now for the fun part. Pick out a spot with enough room and gather up all your stuff.

The beginning

Bins, cups, measuring tape, check.

PVC pipe and cap, check

Old pantyhose, check.

“Trusty” thumb stabber. Check.

Power drill, check. Other supplies not photographed individually. Sue me.

So let’s have a look at the cups. These are just some ordinary food storage containers I found.

Cups with lids

They come with screw-on lids.

Lids.  Not used

We don’t need these. I set them aside, I’ll probably find a use for them on some other project.

Measure a cup from UNDER the lip to the bottom. You can use something else if you like, it just needs to have a lip around the top. Remember this measurement. Alternately, get a piece of paper and mark it with at the length of the cup.

Now measure from the bottom of one of your Rubbermaid bins and mark slightly more than the length of the cup. This isn’t rocket science, you just want it a tad taller than the cup (say 1/4th inch or so). Make marks all the way around the bin. Now the astute observers will notice these bins are made by Sterilite and I said not to get that type. This is the softer, rubbery type of plastic common to Rubbermaid and it can be cut cleanly. The clear, hard plastic more commonly associated with Sterilite won’t cut, it just breaks.

Connect the dots. I never realized just what a pain it is to operate a digital camera left-handed until I took this picture. In case you’re wondering, I’m using the cardboard backing off a long airstone package to draw the straight lines. (It’s from a DWC project I’m building as well.)

It should look something like this. Now for the dangerous part – cutting along the line. I know they all say “always cut away from you, never towards you”. It’s good advice. I don’t follow it, but it’s good advice. I advise you to follow that advice. Here’s why:

I’m an idiot, but I’m a lucky idiot and this wasn’t too bad. I’ve done much, much worse before. Like I said, don’t do this. It hurts. (And if you think this is annoying, wait ’til my wife reads this and realizes that I was, at one point in time, bleeding.)

Anyway, assuming you don’t stab yourself and bleed out before the paramedics arrive, it should end up looking basically like this:

We don’t need the top part, so you can do whatever you want with it. We also don’t need to photograph our toes to further illustrate our flagrant disregard of basic safety protocols concerning shoes, knives, and power tools, but we do that anyway. ‘Cause we’re rebels. Yeah.

Grab the bottom and flip it over so it looks like this:

See the two little dimples mine have? I decided to use those as reference points for my holes.

Put the cup where you want it and trace the diameter. Do the same on the other side. (Make it vaguely evenly spaced.) Again, not rocket science.

Something like that. Make sure that your circles are smaller around than the lip on your container, or that if they aren’t that you don’t cut all the way out to them. It’s “don’t stab yourself” time again, but this is a little easier since you’re dealing with a hole in a smaller bit of bin. Still, don’t stab yourself.

Okay, here you see the progression of opening the hole. First, just cut a rough opening and don’t worry about getting close to the lines. Next, open it up a little and cut radial cuts out from the hole to the line. Then carefully cut nearly to the the line around, connecting the radial cuts and removing those bits. Finally, check your fit. Above, you can see it’s still a little too tight. So we’ll open it out a bit more.

Doesn’t have to be perfect. Below you can see we’ve got a decent fit.

Just do the same on the other side.

Now get out your drill and stab a bunch of holes in both of your cups. If they’re like mine and made of a really stiff plastic, make sure you don’t push hard (ie at all) or you’ll crack it. The cracks aren’t a problem unless they start connecting together and making big holes.

Here you can see where some of the holes are cracked a bit, but not too bad. You don’t need a lot of holes, just enough that the cup is really, really bad at holding water. Clean up all the little bits stuck to the cups, then check your fit again. No reason, it’s just fun.

You can see here on the right that I pushed too hard and stabbed a big hole in that cup. Not what you want to do, but it’s not the end of the world – especially if you’re playing along with the next step.

Cut the two legs of a pair of pantyhose to about twice the length of the cups.

Then dress your cups so that the “socks” are on the inside with the tops wrapped around the outside.

Pop them into place – you’ll probably have to make sure the hose don’t “ride up” when you do.

Here you see top and bottom views.

Now grab your PVC pipe and use it to trace a hole at one corner of this piece and the lid (precision not vital, but scroll down to see how it all fits so you get the holes basically aligned. Close is close enough.)

and the lid…

More stabby work.

Assemble as below.

Now take your assembled “thing” (the reservoir) and jam it down into the bottom of the other bin. It won’t want to go, but just keep insisting and you should win out. The edges will bow inward but that’s okay.

Note: make sure that the angled “uneven cut” end of the pipe is down. It doesn’t have to be steeply angled or anything, just not flat enough to form much of a seal at the bottom. You want water to flow out easily.

Should look something like this, except my foot won’t be there if you’re building it. (Still barefoot, still a rebel. Yeah.)

Cut some holes in the lid for your plants (I borrowed the PVC again for that). Now test your complete assembly.

Looks good. Ready to move it to where it’s going to live and pack it full of dirt.

Now for this box it’s going to live outdoors (they work best outdoors, no worries about leaking) but it was raining and I didn’t want to do this in the rain, so I did it in my mom’s dining room right next to the back door. If you’re going to do this over carpet, make sure you’re not going to get in trouble for dirt in the carpet. Or (more responsibly) just clean up afterwards so no one knows/cares.

Above you can see the cups packed full of mud. Just take your dirt, mix in some fertilizer and water, and pack it in pretty tight. Don’t get crazy, but make sure there aren’t any air pockets or empty space.

Just keep filling it from there. If your dirt is really dry and fluffy, wet it down a bit so that it’s as dense as it’s likely to get when moist. You don’t want the dirt to compact as water is introduced later, which would cause your plants to “sink” down away from the lid. A little of that will probably happen, but you want to avoid it as much as you can.

Quick note on soil/dirt:

A lot of gardeners, farmers, etc love to get persnickety about the difference between “dirt” and “soil”, with the latter being superior. I use the terms interchangeably. Do not simply dig up some dirt from your backyard unless you’re absolutely certain it’s good soil and isn’t packed full of unwanted bugs and nasties. At the same time, don’t go get some sterilized soil either. Plants like company and the normal beneficial fungi and bacteria in soil are vital to healthy plants. I got my soil from a family member who grew up on a farm and hasn’t grown grass in his back yard in 50+ years. (His entire back yard is a vegetable and flower garden. He has arguably the best soil in 100 miles and 3 compost piles to keep it in tip-top shape.)

Here you can see the bin nearly full. Check the fit of the lid from time to time to make sure you’re not packing the dirt around your pipe wrong (you could make it fit badly later, just check to save yourself the trouble). On the left you can see the blue rubbermaid the dirt came out of and below is the bag of “Grounds for your Garden” from Starbucks.

You can see here that this isn’t store-bought dirt. It’s packed full of vegetable matter and even a few sprouts of some kind. Doesn’t really matter, since only the tomato plants will have holes allowing them to reach the light. The living organisms in the soil will break the other stuff down into food for the plants.

Mix in your fertilizer as you go. Some people recommend a layer on top, you can do that if you like, but I didn’t. If my mom’s plants need any help I’ll mix up some hydroponics nutrients for her to add to the reservoir or I’ll go over and foliar feed them for her. I always prefer to err on the side of not enough fertilizer since it’s infinitely easier to feed more than to unfeed.

Once your box is full:

Put the lid on and then stick something down into the dirt through the holes. I used steak knives because that’s what was handy. Then take the lid off and plant your stuff where the knifes (pencils, sticks, whatever) are. You can start from seed if you like, or use small plants. You can’t use big ones. Trust me.

You can try and use big ones if you like, but you’re not going to be able to feed them up through the holes without seriously molesting them and then they’ll be grumpy with you for a week or so. Just use small plants, it’s easier (and cheaper). Get them planted and make sure your dirt is topped off, then very carefully lower the lid and gently coax the plants up through the holes. It’s probably a good idea to give them a little water beforehand, but not vital.

Once it’s all closed up, drag it to it’s new home (if it’s not there already) and drill your drain holes.

Hah! Bet you thought I forgot that part!

Actually I almost did when I was building it but then I realized this was actually a good thing. It’s a lot easier to drill them after the bin is filled since you don’t have to worry about dirt coming out the holes while you’re filling.

Here you can see me filling the bin from the hose. It holds a LOT of water, which is why I got a PVC pipe big enough I could just stick the hose in it. All that water on the top and sides is from rain – this is why I didn’t do the work outside. You want to drill your drain holes at roughly the same level as the top of the reservoir. Better a little low than a little high.

Here you can see the drain holes I made. You can do them all the way around, but it’s really unnecessary. They don’t need to be very large, either. Mine aren’t even quite the same height. Just fill until you see water come out, then stop. You can’t overwater because it just comes out when it’s full. I didn’t measure it, but I’d say this holds at least 5 gallons of water.

If you thought it was heavy before, it’s even heavier now.

Optional Features:

As you can see above, I put a trellis on this Earth Box because it’s growing tomatoes. I simply drilled three holes in the top for the legs, then stabbed them down into the dirt. It’s not rock-solid, but if it needs to be steadied further I’ll just drill a hole at each corner lip of the lid and tie some twine from the top to the corners to steady it.

I also added a bit of “weed mat” my mom had left over from a rock garden to the top, stabbing the legs of the trellis through that as well. This was to make it even harder for bugs or weeds to get into the soil and cause problems. If you do this go ahead and duct tape the edges down – I had to do that later because the wind had it flapping around and bothering the plants.

Finally, I put a cap on top of the fill pipe.

This is a picture of a test fit before I went to my mom’s house. The objective here is just to keep stuff out of the reservoir. Realistically there isn’t much concern about that kind of thing, but I figured that it’d be easier to just deny access than to try to get something out if it went in.

But if some leaves or rain or whatever went down the pipe it wouldn’t be a big problem.

That’s it.

Like I said, this is based off an Instructable I linked at the top of the page. I modified it slightly but it’s not really “my idea”.

I’ll probably update this with some more pictures later on to show how the plants are doing.


40 Responses to “DIY Earth Box”

  1. Billy Blight Says:

    great idea and well put together and documented…looking forward to seeing it progress…keep posting for us all out here in cyberland….i like your quote “we are all standing on the shoulders of other men”….Richard Leaky was quoted as saying “there is nothing new under the sun”…great thing about agriculture and hydroponics is the free exchange of info, which you are most generous with!

  2. hydroponica Says:

    Thanks, that’s what I’m doing the encyclopedia for. I’ve always been pretty good at finding information and organizing it, and one thing that I hadn’t been able to find was a really large resource that consolidated all this into one place.

    I’m not a “purist”, though, so there’s bound to be more documentation on soil-related projects. I’ve got an upside-down planter in the works and I’ll probably post the details of that once it’s done.

  3. sjones71 Says:

    Awesome documentation. I’m going to give this a try and I’m going to link to this from my blog. Perfect presentation.

  4. Davey Says:

    I’ve been looking at a few ideas for homemade “earthboxes” and you certainly did the most thorough and detailed instructions. Your opinions take some of the the anxiety out of the whole thing, too. Great job.

    But some questions:

    — Everybody else I’ve read, including the Earthbox site, makes a big point about not using reglar old dirt because a starter mix of bark, perlite, compost, and sphagnum are needed for adequate wicking. Is your disagreement based on experience? The potting mix idea does seem intuitively more reasonable, so your argument would be interesting.

    — I don’t get the need for the filler pipe. There’s a drain hole anyway, so why not just make it bigger and fill from there? Just convenience?

    — The commercial earthbox looks like it has much less area of dirt in the water. Does the size of the “intakes” directly determine how much water is wicked?

    — Instead of doing all that cutting, why not just punch some holes in the planter part, put in the “wicks”, and set it on some boards or something over a slightly bigger container? This way you could just fill the reservoir from the space around the edges. More water would evaporate, but it doesn’t seem like it would be enough to matter. And it would look pretty crappy. OTOH, it would be easier to move the outfit around one part at a time instead of lugging around the whole thing at once. (I’m thinking it would be good to move it into such sun as the narrow yard gets despite the efforts of the neighbors damn trees.)

    — And a suggestion: I’ve found that making little holes in plastic goes a lot easier with a hot nail or BBQ fork or something — just heat and poke. And stay upwind.

  5. hydroponica Says:

    You’ve got some excellent points.

    Potting Soil vs. Regular Soil – You’re correct that potting mix will most likely wick more readily than normal topsoil. And potting mix is significantly lighter per cubic foot than dirt. Whether that will make a big difference from the plant’s perspective is hard to say.

    For the record, the soil I used is about as close to potting mix as you can find in nature, but its still much denser. The tomato plants are doing fine and don’t get watered from the top, so the wicking is adequate. For plants with wetter requirements a lighter soil might be required. I don’t know, and it’s probably better to err on the side of safety. Not to mention, a box full of potting mix is easier to lift.

    Filler Pipe – The distinguishing features that make an Earth Box an Earth Box is the covered top (to prevent bugs and weeds access to soil, and water as much access to evaporation) and a bottom reservoir. A larger hole at the bottom can be used, but ultimately it’s more convenient to have a fill pipe. It also helps reduce evaporation. Much of the point behind using an Earth Box as opposed to some other kind of planter is the water efficiency. Less evaporation/runoff is better for the Earth.

    Wick Size – The precise degree to which wick size impacts wick rate is unknown to me. But I would imagine larger wicks are more efficient. However, the bigger your wick is the more it displaces volume from your reservoir, so it’s a give-and-take relationship. Honestly, I didn’t put a lot of thought into the ratio, I just found something that looked large enough without being too big.

    Construction Method – What you describe would most likely work, but it kind of strays from the Earth Box concept. An Earth Box needs to be as sealed up as possible so that water isn’t wasted. But there is definitely more than one way to make one.

    Oh, and I have used the “hot knife/nail” method to cut or pierce plastic, but I’ve generally found it to be smellier and messier than simply breaking out the power tools. At the end of the day you’re just a lot less likely to burn yourself or set fire to the house with a power drill. (Plus there’s safety instructions with tools that don’t come with “making a nail hot” and I’d rather avoid someone complaining to me that I didn’t warn them against putting a red-hot nail in their eye or something.)

  6. Z. Adams Says:

    I really enjoyed your running commentary/instructions. It was my first smile of the day.
    Hope to read more of your articles–hey, we all have to get our kicks somewhere!

  7. E.H. Says:

    Glad you liked it, and hope you enjoy the rest of the blog!

    There’s no rule that being instructional or educational has to be boring, right? The best stuff entertains as it informs, and I’ve always tried to mix a bit of both into my own writing.

    I enjoy a good scientific paper as much as the next geek, but I still think that those things could use a laugh thrown in once in awhile!

  8. Korb Says:

    I noticed in your picture’s above you didn’t drill any drainage holes in your soil base in case of over watering/aeration . Has this been an issue?

  9. E.H. Says:

    I’m not sure what you mean. The second to last picture shows the drainage holes that prevent over watering.

    And I’m not sure I’m familiar with the concept of over aeration. In my understanding it’s not possible to get too much air to the roots. If it were, aeroponics would not work.

  10. KayakerNC Says:

    The pantie hose might be overkill, if you put the soil in the wicking chamber while moist it’s not going anywhere.
    I would suggest a “plant caddy”, easily made from scrap lumber and some casters (or you can purchase for $10 or so). The caddy enables you to move your growing box if needed.

  11. E.H. Says:

    I’m sure you’re right. My primary concern is that the soil I used here was just incredibly friable – really excellent quality with a lot of stuff that would practically dissolve in water. And I didn’t want it to end up getting really gunked up inside so I figured “better safe than sorry”.

    It worked really well, we ended up with a lot of tomatoes from both plants.

  12. Craft Says:

    “The pantie hose might be overkill”
    It is not overkill because it works, also cut pantyhose across to make loops that can be used to tie up the plants. They seem to like it.
    You did a really great job, thanks.

  13. Mark Says:

    Great page, bro…I made these last year and needed to refresh the memory. Here’s a few mods that I do.
    • I buy ONE box instead of two, cut the middle indented section outta the top, and use it for the thing you attach the cup to and put the pipe through. The cut out lid snaps back on top just as a “ring” to keep the excess junk out of the house, no real necessity.
    • also, in the pond section of your hardware store, they sell these bowl-shaped baskets (about 7 in. high I think) and I just use one in the middle, with zip ties to hold it in place, in the center. I use the height of the basket to drill the overflow, and I don’t use a netting or panty hose, just drill holes over where the basket is.
    • A thought…if someone uses your 2 box method and HAS to keep it inside, maybe they could use the leftover top upside down as an overflow catch?
    Happy Planting!

  14. E.H. Says:

    Thanks, sounds like your design works well. There’s a lot of different ways to build this type of system, and it’s hard to say what’s best. It pretty much comes down to what works best for you.

    I just have one method here, and I built a different kind of system for my tomatoes this year, which I’ll illustrate here when the weather permits.

    I just hope my plants made it through this late winter storm…

  15. Jim Socal Says:

    Thanks for this info. I was curious as to how one might make one of these!
    Now I know that making one is way beyond my skills and/or desire to build one.
    Looks like way too much work for me! 😉 Maybe if I was retired and had nothing better to do… Nah. Probably not!
    But thanks. Now I know.

  16. GriZ Says:

    I used a similar design this year becasue voles were destroying my plants. I used the rubbermaid 18 gal. and cut out the indented part of the lid to use as a soil screen over the resevoir and used many aeration holes in it covered by some landscape fabric. I also do some w/o aeration holes and found the aeration holes made a big difference in plants performance with the aerated plants doing much better. I used 4 – 6″ legs for the screen made from pvc with two acting as wicking chambers. The systems works so well that 8′ high fence pole are too short to support the tomato plants. As of mid August the vines are at least 12′ high and flopping over the top of my supports. Next year I need to spend my time building some type of support to contain these vigorous plants. Even italian hot pepper plants are 4-5′ high!

  17. E.H. Says:

    Cool, I’d like to see some pictures of that. I always like new ideas.

  18. Terry Says:

    I was given 5 earth boxes (along with a metal stand) with no lid coverings, so, now what? I really don’t want to “buy” more plastic or use plastic bags secured by some other means (like tape). Can I use something alternative, something more, well, natural as a cover? What about burlap or landscaping fabric as opposed to plastic covers? What would be a way to secure the stuff beside taping it to the sides? Seems like there might be a better way.

    I also was “gifted” a bunch of organic veggie/herb seeds; do I need to sprout them/how much/large or, can the seeds go into the soil as is; will they get enough water to sprout on their own? I live in the desert and am new at this…need help

  19. Franklin Says:

    I do a lot of hydroponics out doors. I have built several “still water” growers . I use an aquarium air pump which gives a lot of oxygen and air eation

  20. Ray Says:

    I am a little confused about this 2 container, cutting one up, why not just place one container inside the other spacing the bottom up for the reservoir. Then should anything go wrong with the reservoir, just lift the top container out and deal with it.
    With 5 gallon buckets like paint buckets, why not just place one inside the other, the bucket rim will give a 3 inch reservoir holding almost a Gallon of water. AS with the above make every thing the same just place one container inside the other.
    I haven’t made mine yet so I am interested in anyone’s comments on my approach


    • Griz Says:

      Ray, I did several 5 gal buckets in this manner and planted 1 tomato in each. However, I used one 4″ pvc wicking leg in the middle of the inside bucket about 6″ tall to give me a larger resevoir. You will need the additional water when the plants get huge and transpire a lot of water in the dog days of summer. I also drilled numerous airhole in the bottom and sides of the inside bucket and lined with landscape fabric to keep soil from running into resevoir. I had huge abundant plants using this method. The hard part was trying to keep the vines supported as they got 12″ high/long a eventually fell over top of supports and strangled themselves

  21. Ray Says:

    I did actually make my container and it worked well, I do have some photo’s but do not know how to post them with this message, But Basically with the on shown on this post, you cut the bottom off the second container, I cut the top off, same measurements etc, I then cut that rim in two and placed it in the bottom of the first container to support the box with the soil in it. Looks the same but the soil part is totally separate from the reservoir, and no waste. Also it gives the box a double wall, so more strength and insulation.

  22. E.H. Says:

    Terry – you can use pretty much any kind of covering that fits the bill. You want it to discourage weeds, and darker colors help it to retain heat better (good or bad, depending on weather).

    Ray – with bins like these they nest in far too close to simply drop one into the other. You’d have very little water capacity. If you put something in the bottom to raise the inner bin up you’ll leave a sizable air gap all the way around the top. That opens you up to a lot of evaporation and potentially mosquitoes and other bugs using your reservoir as a breeding ground.

    Like Griz said, large plants can use up huge quantities of water on a daily basis. I’ve had tomato plants that individually sucked up two gallons of water a day on hot days.

    Ultimately you need to tailor the design to the plant and the environment. Bigger plants or hotter weather mean you should scale up the reservoir; smaller or cooler, scale down if you like. You can always just build large reservoirs and go longer between watering.

    • Ray Says:

      I do have pictures of a box I have made, not a bucket, Ray Newstead has shown interest in the design, But I have no way of passing them on to you.

  23. art Says:

    You have a way with using photos. I hate written instructions but Even I can follow your photographic instructions. Actually-your photo instructions are superior to most. I think you have found a career. your a teacher!. I’ll be making an earth box today following your instrutions. Thanks.

    • E.H. Says:

      I don’t have anywhere near the level of patience required to actually teach people in real-time. But I admit I have a not-insignificant amount of skill in writing instructional manuals or guides.

      I hope your construction goes well! My goal in writing any guide is to answer every possible question (an impossible goal, of course, but one I shoot for regardless).

  24. […] our own version of the Earthbox. Of course there is plenty of websites out there devoted to making them and guess what? WhoahGirl just became another […]

  25. Pastor Zack Says:

    I have a great use for those blue lids from the food containers. If you ever eat those “Instant Lunch” or “Soup in a Cup” type things from Maruchan, those blue lids fit perfectly upside down on top of the styrofoam cup to seal in heat/moisture while the noodles soak.

  26. hydroponics Says:

    Great site you have here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  27. Rob Says:

    FYI: The plastic tub as well as the PVC tube are not safe as they leech toxic chemicals into the water and the soil. The system is great however be cautious about using it for anything you plan to eat or feed your family.

    • Julie Says:

      FYI : Most of the entire supermarket’s vegetables, dairy, frozen food, etc,etc, and everything under the sun is packed or cooked in plastic. Why are you not concerned about feeding your family this too? How about the styrofoam containers for takeout food from restaurants? That is also known to leach chemicals. There is NO WAY these days to avoid plastic unless you eat everything from glass or tinand you are jarring and canning at home.

  28. […] Another popular version are nested rubbermaid totes (also in the above article) and other examples: Building a Self-Watering Container, DIY Earth Box […]

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  31. Toni Says:

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  32. jaweee Says:

    goog job, i want to lessen my cost, how about using 1 container instead of 2. i think you can buy a plane plastic board to replace the inner container used for covering reservior.

    another is to buy UV protected plastics so it wont crack over time.

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