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Build Your Own Grow Box – Learn how to build a potato grow box and grow up to a hundred kilos of potatoes in just four square meters – an easy project for beginners!
Potatoes are one of the best plants to grow, especially because they are so easy! While they may seem like the kind of plant you need a huge garden for, they’re actually not that fussy at all. Potato tubers are quite easy to grow in almost any yard with adequate “space”.
Build Your Own Grow Box
Since I live in the city and my yard isn’t as big as I’d really like, I’m a big fan of growing things in small spaces.
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By learning how to build a potato grow box, you can be ahead of the game with your potatoes. Each potato grow box can produce up to 100 lbs of potatoes in just 4 small square feet. By planting potatoes in layers in a small (yet tall) box, you are actually building them to grow like skyscrapers.
Wait until they are fully ripe to harvest (early fall) or unscrew the board(s) from the bottom and harvest the ripe potatoes early.
If you buy wood at Home Depot or Lowe’s, they will cut it for you for free. Be sure to avoid pressure treated wood.
Clamp the 2×4s together to make the support posts. Arrange them so that the side of one 2×4 overlaps the other, making an “L” shape. If you have wood clamps it will help – but not necessary.
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Use the deck screws to attach the pieces together – 4 screws should be enough. Repeat that step 3 more times until you have 4 support posts.
Attach your side pieces to the posts, making sure the joint is as flush as possible. Use 2 wood base screws on each side of the board when attaching to the post.
Repeat this several times, until the boards are 5 high at the back of the box and 2 high at the front.
On one of the side pieces, drill a hole 12 inches from the side and 2 inches from the bottom. It should be big enough to fit a hose.
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Switching to a garden hose. Starting at the discharge end of the hose, drill 1/16 holes randomly on all sides of the hose, going up to 32 inches. Do not drill holes closer than 1 inch apart.
Drag the potato box to the location where you are likely to place it. Lower it and make sure the smaller sides (with 2 boards) are facing the sun.
Place a piece of scrap rebar in the ground in the middle of the potato box. Take the discharge end of the hose and thread it through the hole through the base of the box. Pull only as much hose as you need. Place the drain end cap on the end of the hose.
Secure the top and bottom of the hose to the rebar with zip ties or duct tape. Add some dirt to your potato box. The dirt should be even with the 2nd highest board.
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Place your seed potato in the box – sprout/eye side up. Make sure the potatoes are 4-5 inches apart. Cover with 1″ of soil. Then completely soak the soil by running water (attach the hose to the potato hose!)
After saturation, water the potato box every 2-3 days. When the vines start to sprout and stick out, add extra planks to your box, fill with more soil (up to the top of that plank) and plant another layer of potatoes. Continue like this until you have planted up the entire height of the box.
Your potatoes will grow upwards and bloom as time goes on. After the flowers have died, in early fall, you can harvest the potatoes by removing the bottom boards. Construction of grow boxes. Today is our second installment on creating a DIY Any Age Anywhere Garden. A container garden that allows anyone of any age – to grow some, most or almost all food – even when space is limited.
Today’s article focuses on making your own grow boxes in the garden. You can watch the first part here: The Any Age Anywhere Garden
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The Grow Box is the workhorse of the Any Age Anywhere garden. It consists of 3 elements – a bucket, a box lid – and an attached grid.
The mulch not only makes the garden aesthetically pleasing – it also helps to keep soil temperature and moisture levels regulated. It also serves as a strong trellis anchor – keeping plants strong in any environment.
Grow boxes virtually eliminate weeding. and make chores like planting, watering, harvesting and fall clean-up easier.
Combine multiple grow boxes with a few small raised beds for crops like lettuce and beans – and you’ve got a complete low-maintenance vegetable garden!
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Even better—by scraping out a few 5-gallon buckets, making homemade compost, your own soil mix, and using pallet wood to make boxes—you can literally make an entire garden for free.
The size of your grow buckets will determine the size of your grow box lids. In our test garden this year – we will be using traditional 5 gallon buckets, along with 10 and 15 gallon nursery pots.
All can of course be purchased – but with a little digging – you can usually find them for free. (Check your local nurseries – many times they will have leftover containers for little or no cost)
As always – especially with 5 gallon buckets – make sure the containers are clean and haven’t held any harsh chemicals.
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As for what’s best to use: 5-gallon buckets easily grow more compact to medium sized vegetables – this would include determinate tomato varieties such as cherry, roma, celebrity and others.
They are also excellent for almost all hot and medium peppers – such as lunch box, banana, mini-belle, cayenne, cajun belle, habanero and jalapeno.
We will be using 10 gallon nursery pots for our larger indeterminate varieties like amish paste, purple cherokee, brandywine and black cream tomatoes – along with green, red and yellow peppers and our climbers like cucumbers and squash.
You can use 5 gallon containers for them – but the extra soil content gives these larger varieties more room to develop a full root system.
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We will use the 15 gallon tanks to try several large tomato varieties such as mortgage lifter – see if the extra soil will add to the plant’s vigor.
One last note on containers – whatever you use – make sure they have lots of holes drilled in the bottom to allow for drainage.
For 5 gallon buckets – drill (8) 3/4″ holes in the bottom and a couple on the sides a few inches from the bottom. Most nursery containers already have holes in them and are ready to go.
You can use any wooden material to make the box. These are pieces of rough sawn lumber cut and ready to assemble.
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Since soil and plants never come into contact with wood – you can use reclaimed lumber or pallets to make your boxes – meaning they can be made for little or no cost.
You can also use traditional 2 x 6 framed or treated lumber as an inexpensive alternative. Everything works and looks great – and can be painted or stained to dress up the finished box.
Regardless of the size – the construction process is the same. You simply need to make sure that the finished box is large enough to fit over the container you will be using – and that there is enough room to fit a metal or wooden trellis.
Most 5-gallon buckets are 12 inches wide and 14 to 14.5 inches tall. So by creating a grow box with minimum interior dimensions of 14 inches x 14 inches and a height of 15 inches – you leave enough room for the bucket and trellis inside, and enough height to cover the bucket.
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2″ x 6″ framing or 1″ x 6″ flooring actually work great for 5 gallon bucket grow boxes – creating a perfect 15″ x 15″ inside diameter when assembled and folded at the ends. (see picture). To hold the boxes together – attach a simple decorative piece to the bottom and top of the grow box.
You can get it as basic or as fancy as you like with the decoration. Straight corners are sturdy and quick to assemble, but you can bevel corner trims at a 45-degree angle for a more “elegant” look.
For those who learn by watching – stay tuned – we will be posting a video with next week’s article showing the complete process of making a 5 gallon bucket lid.
Once your box is complete – all that’s left is to build and install your trellis. For our trellises – we bought 48″ x 16′ long stock board for about $22 – we cut it into 15″ wide strips and then fit them into the grow boxes to immediately form a solid 4′ trellis.
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If you like the natural “all wood” look or want to build them completely free – you can also quickly
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