My Automatic Garden – The Only Way To Grow
Had planted seeds in the dirt for more than 50 years, but the last 5 years gardens have been the best I’ve ever grown. That’s right, an automatic garden, that’s what I have now. No weeding, no watering, no fertilizing during the season. Nothing to do, but pick the produce. It will spoil you quick, if you’re an old time gardener, used to making sure the watering is done on time and nothing dries out, digging up and pulling the weeds, fighting the varmints and bugs and whatever. I like being a spoiled gardener. It’s a very pleasant change, after decades of planting gardens with varying success from year to year.
So, how did I get my automatic garden? Well, the come on, fell out of the pages of our Readers Digest Magazine 5 years ago, in Feb. or March. It was a sale flyer included in the magazine, and it said, “My neighbors all laughed when I ordered my tomato garden, now they all want one.” Well, that got my attention for sure, ‘cause I really, really enjoy fresh picked high quality tomatoes and cucumbers. Celebrity tomatoes, the 1984 Winner of Best Tomato in the USA, is still my go to tomato for eating and canning. This flyer for a “tomato garden” had my interest.
It’s called The Grow Box by The Garden Patch, and you could buy just one unit for $30 plus shipping, but they had a discount if you ordered 3 units. I decided if these things actually worked I wanted to start with 2 units, so, I shared one to a fellow gardener. I saw a picture on line of a fellow that had built a shelf unit to get the grow boxes off the ground a ways, and I liked that idea. So, I built a shelf unit for 2 boxes. Two feet above ground and 8 feet long and 8 feet high from the ground. Plenty of room for plant growth if these grow boxes actually worked.
Well, the grow boxes came in, and I followed the included instructions for assembly and then adding the potting mix, not soil, potting mix and then there was a layout picture on the “fertilizer cover”, that’s included, as to where and how many to plant each type of plant. Well, any gardener that I know, who’s been gardening for a few years, has their own little recipe to “doctor up the soil” a little, and make the produce a little sweeter and better tasting. According to instructions, all you do is put the fertilizer cover on the grow box and you’re ready to plant. Yea, well, not at my house, in my garden. As I had done for years and years, I added a little mushroom compost, a little black cow manure, some crushed egg shells, and last but not least a little Epson salts, for added magnesium to help avoid blossom end rot.
As is also the norm, I planted early in the season and had to protect the plants from frost a time or two, before it really warmed up enough to grow tomatoes. I like planting a little early, ‘cause I feel it makes for a better plant and the fruit tastes better, to me anyway. Those plants started growing at an amazing rate and had little baby tomatoes everywhere. It was great! So far, so good, with this new way of gardening. It was about then, that the watering problem started. The Grow Boxes hold 4 gallons of water, Yea! But, I was having to fill both boxes every morning and every evening, and after a week of this chore, I knew with my life schedule, I did not have time for this.
I did some research and then designed and built and automatic watering system for the grow boxes. That did the trick. We now had an automatic garden. Just wait now, to pick the produce. And boy, did we pick the produce. When you go past picking 40 Celebrity or Early Girl tomatoes, from just one plant, you know you’re on to something good! And the flavor was just right! Tomato jungle is an apt description of what we had the first try! I think I’m going to really like these new Grow Boxes for gardening.
Well, this is the fifth season of growing with the Grow Boxes, and I have a total of 4 boxes now. I haven’t planted a seed in the ground in 5 years now and I wouldn’t change a thing. This year and last, I planted a few more plants in the box than the instructions say, and I order replacement fertilizer covers every year, at about $10 each for each box, and I doctor up the soil a bit. I’ve changed the potting mix once. Probably change out on all of the boxes next year.
Yep, this is how you spoil an old gardener. No bending over, no weeding, no watering, no fertilizing, just pick the fruit. What more do you want? Happy gardening to all! Enjoy!
I should add, the water bill for the our 4 grow boxes, for apx. 6 months growing time was apx. $25. Our neighbor planted in the ground and spent about $25 per month for the extra water to water his garden. So, the grow boxes cost less to use than a in the ground garden.