Admit it. You're lazy. Why else would you be trying to set up your own grow box? You hate weeding, continually monitoring your garden, and having to deal with spades, hoses, and fighting off rabbits.
Well, you're not alone. We both can agree that traditional gardening is a draining process. That's why grow boxes are such an ideal form of growing fresh vegetables. All you have to do is correctly set the box up, plant your veggies, and keep a water reservoir full. Before you know it you're munching on fresh greens all year long!
Even for us lazy folks, however, we still have to put up with the hassle of setting up our own grow boxes. Thankfully, as long as you set your grow box up correctly, the trouble is taken care of then and there, and the rest comes easy!
What Is a Grow Box?
A grow box is a partially or fully contained system which allows you to have greater control over the growth of your plants. Some grow boxes, such as the Garden Patch Grow Box, only enclose the soil. Other grow boxes like the SuperBox CFL Soil enclose your entire plants. Grow boxes are a great way to grow vegetables without having to deal with an entire garden.
Hydroponics vs. soil
Further divvying up grow boxes, there are hydroponic grow boxes, and soil grow boxes. Hydroponic grow boxes suspend your plants' roots in a medium and deliver water and nutrients directly to the plants. Soil grow boxes use, well...soil.
The primary advantage of a hydroponic grow box is that your plants tend to grow faster, and get precisely all of the nutrients they need (as long as you add the proper amounts). Your plants can divert more energy into growing because water and nutrients are delivered directly to them. In soil, your plants have to spend more time developing their roots. Hydroponic grow boxes are also very convenient to water. All you have to do is top off the reservoir whenever it gets low.
Whereas hydroponics provide faster growth, soil brings comfort and simplicity. All you have to do is buy quality soil and water your plants when needed. There's no fancy setup, no whizzing gadgets, just old-fashioned gardening. Well, except for the whole being in a box thing.
When Does a Grow Box Come in Handy?
Grow boxes are especially useful for growing vegetables throughout the winter. If you're a fan of year-long access to freshly grown vegetables, a grow box is just for you. On the other hand, some folks don't even have the necessary space in their yard for a garden. Or they don't even have a yard at all! A grow box will fix that problem right up and return to you the satisfaction of growing your produce.
Along with a new space to grow your garden, grow boxes also offer greater control over your plants' environment. With greater control comes a greater harvest. Pests and contaminants will have a difficult time getting into your grow box, especially if it's fully enclosed. While protection from outside forces is a huge benefit, the real kicker is getting to choose what goes into your plants. In soil grow boxes, you can be sure the water in your soil isn't getting evaporated by a scorching sun. As for hydroponics, you get to decide the exact amount of nutrients your plants are getting.
And even more importantly, enclosed grow boxes let you choose the exact amount of light your plants receive. If you know your lettuce needs six hours of sunlight a day, you can connect your grow box lamps to a timer. No matter the weather your plants will get the perfect amount of light. You don't have to get extremely nitpicky with a grow box, but you have the option. If you really wanted, you could create the perfect habitat for your plant babies. By doing so, you can get big, beautiful, and delicious veggies throughout the entire year. And if you don't feel like getting too technical, you'll still be happy with the results as long as you follow our tips!
Tips for Setting up the Perfect Grow Box
Whether you're building your own grow box or configuring a pre-bought grow box you're going to want to be sure everything is set up correctly. One faulty part of your grow box could lead to unhappy plants and a lackluster harvest. Follow these tips to ensure a healthy, happy indoor garden!
Choose smaller, compact plants
Because grow boxes are often compact, you'll want to choose smaller vegetables for your grow box. Doing so will let all your plants receive their fair share of light. Some examples of compact veggies include mini eggplants, grape and cherry tomatoes, mini red bell peppers, and Tom Thumb peas.
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Buy high-quality soil
As you most likely already know, potting soil beats gardening soil when growing in a container. The same goes for growing in a grow box. Purchase high-quality potting soil that is light, nutrient dense, and "fluffy." Using a high-grade soil will make the difference between a thriving garden and a measly yield.
Check your reservoir consistently
If your grow box has a reservoir, make sure to check on it up to one time a day. When your reservoir entirely runs out, it can effectively disrupt your setup. Make sure to keep that reservoir topped off and pumping life-giving water to your garden.
Choose proper grow lights
High-intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps) and compact fluorescent lights are the way to go. They both provide a full spectrum of light that will guarantee your plants thrive as if they're getting direct sunlight. For those who love savings, HID lamps will conserve your money down the line as they'll have a lower draw on power.
Keep your grow box sterile
Keeping your grow box sterile of contaminants will assure robust and flourishing greens. If you're building your own grow box, consider lining the inside with plastic sheets. After lining the inside, lightly scrub the sheets with bleach. By doing this, you can be sure no fungal spores or bacteria will get into your box and harm your developing seedlings.
Set up proper ventilation
Often neglected, adequate ventilation is imperative to the success of enclosed grow boxes. If you don't ventilate your grow box, a few unpleasant conditions will arise. For starters, your grow box will get too humid. An overly humid grow box provides the perfect condition for pests and disease to take over. Secondly, your plants will get deprived of CO2. This issue isn't considered outdoors, but in an enclosed space your plants can suffocate to death. Lastly, fans remove excess heat from your grow lights. Too much heat and your veggies won't grow well and will produce meek returns.
Avoid these disasters by creating an effective ventilation setup. A proper setup will either utilize passive intake or active intake. Passive intake uses one exhaust fan that blows air out of the grow box. This will draw fresh air in through a separate vent. Active intake utilizes an exhaust fan as well as an intake fan to circulate the air. Either way, a proper ventilation setup will make your grow box a vegetable paradise.
Cover soil with a tarp
For grow boxes that only enclose the soil and have a reservoir system, you're going to want to cover your soil. On the one hand, your reservoir provides all the water your plants need. Any additional water from rain will be too much. On the flip side, the sun will evaporate water from your soil, depleting your reservoir faster than necessary. Covering your soil with a tarp will mitigate both issues. For added protection, cover your tarp with mulch. That way it doesn't overheat and harm your plants.
Boiling It Down
So to wrap things up, remember there are a few specific factors to pay attention to when setting up a grow box. Most importantly, you want to make sure you have proper lighting for your enclosed garden. Secondly, you need to make sure you're watering your plants correctly. That may involve watering your plants at proper time intervals, or adding the proper nutrients to your hydroponic system. Lastly, you need to make sure there is sufficient ventilation so your plants can breathe and stay safe from pests and disease.
As long as you put proper attention and effort into setting up your grow box, you're going to have many bountiful harvests to come. Forget breaking your back under the sun. Forget panicking whenever you wake up to frost on your window. Rest easy knowing your plants are in their ideal habitat and are loving life!