For those of you following along, you know this is only my second year involved in vegetable gardening. Last year we grew food over at a friend’s property with modest success. The tomatoes were successful as were the eggplants, but root crops ( beets, onions, carrots, and radishes) didn’t do so well.

One likely reason is the large amount of stone and gravel in the soil. It was just too much for these crops that I suspect would do well in more friable soil. We’ll still use the plot, but I plan on tomatoes, and some vining plants that will take up more space than I have in my little back yard.

Looking at alternative growing methods led me to investigate and begin a Square Foot Garden, which is mostly planted.  Hopefully it will do well. So far so good, and it solves the issue of stones in the soil. It certainly looks nice and organized, but frankly, I am interested in production. That’s why I’m growing my own food, to have fresh vegetables and to be able preserve as much of the crop for the non growing season. Controlling my food supply as much as I can while living in suburbia is increasingly important to me, I suspect it is for you too wherever you live.

The third method I want to try are SIPS, sub irrigated planters. I’ll be making my own from 5 gallon buckets in the near future and will share the process with you. It seems rather simple. That remains to be seen.

Probably the most famous commercial SIPS in the U.S. are Earthboxes. While this seems like a fine product, there is another product called Growboxes. They are about the same price as the Earthboxes. Both are made from molded plastic, and allow you to water from the bottom. Both websites show outrageously successful results.

In consideration for reviewing Growboxes over the season with you, my readers, the nice folks at The Garden Patch sent me three Growboxes! There is no endorsement yet. Just an honest intent to test them and compare the results with SFG, homemade SIPS, and the in ground veggie plot. Part of the test will be to plant the same tomatoes and peppers in each environment and compare through the growing system.

The results will, in part determine how I proceed in subsequent growing seasons.

I’ll be assembling the Growbox in the next few days.

If you have experience with Growboxes or SIPS, I’d like to hear from you.

Stay tuned!

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener