'What's the advantage of Earth Boxes(c) over buckets to grow in?
Well, #1, it's that (c) . At $29.95 plus shipping for every Earth Box(c), that's a BIG advantage.
"Jim" says: "Just the watering part is ... the only real advantage", but that, with all due respect, Jim, shows a general misunderstanding (or negation) of the essential basis of Earth Box's patent.
Earth Box did not get a patent because they have a long planting box that uses a "wicked" watering system. We have had pots using such a system for almost 20 years in France; I am sure they have been available in the US for almost as long.
The "Earth Box" patent is based on their reputedly unique "up-forward-and-down" "system" of waterflow, based on the 2 "wicks" of soil in the 2 corners opposite the drain hole.
If there is any truth to the scientific fact (very doubtful, I'd say) and intrinsic efficacy of such a "flow" mechanism, then a pseudo-"Earth Box(c)" constructed along the lines of those described in the "Instuctables" site to which Jim makes reference, would be less effective, because its "wicking" would not create such a flow.
It appears to me that the other "advantage" is the placement of highly concentrated banded fertilizer.
The advantages of the use of "banded" fertilizer is well documented in agricultural/gardening literature, but almost never applied --- in theory or practice --- to container gardening. In fact, unless used as a "ring band", it is hard to apply to "normal" container gardening.
If we assume that the "flow" mechanism is specious, which I think can be logically and legitimately shown; and if we accept that "fertilizer banding" is as legitimate a way of fertilizing plants in containers as it is in open fields, then the only advantages to Earth Boxes(c) over buckets would be : 1. they assume fertilizer banding; 2. they ensure that (bottom) watering reaches the roots and draws them downward; 3. their reservoir/wicking process requires less water than "flow-thru" watering of buckets and, possibly of most importance: 4. their reservoir/wicking process within a "closed" system means less leaching of fertilizer and a more effective use of agricultural inputs. That they achieve these 4 advantages is, I think, without question: whether the concept is revolutionary or its application unique is, I think, a slap in the face to monastic gardeners who used similar techniques at least 1600 years ago.
Last Edit: Feb 23, 2009 21:52:27 GMT -5 by potagere