My EarthTainer Project - Mistakes Made / Lessons Learned

13 years ago

Just a quick update after finishing 12 of my planned 25 EarthTainers. As an overview, the EarthBox Company's product is simply too small for my needs to grow large Beefsteak tomatoes, so my quest to build something 150% larger out of off-the-shelf components from Home Depot.

I am quite happy with Rubbermaid's 31 gallon "Roughneck" container. Much stronger and excellent dimensions for my application than Walmart types. My goal is to employ an internal staking system for two tomato plants per container. I am also incorporating the "stock" Automated Watering System (AWS) from the EarthBox Company, and modifying the fill tube length to adapt to my deeper container.

Some of the recent design changes are a result of actual empirical test data. The key "mistake" I made in the original design was to cut out the wicking orifice exactly to match the 9"x9" water basket I purchased from Home Depot. As this was the only model they carried, I was stuck with using this product. The error I made was by simply cutting the opening to exactly fit the basket, I wound up with an overly large 76 sq. inches of wicking area into the potting soil.


In actual use, I am experiencing far too high moisture levels in the growing mix. The darn Miracle Grow with Moisture Control is simply TOO efficient at wicking the water from the reservoir!!.


So what I am experimenting with today is throttling back the capillary action by reducing the orifice opening with two trial size openings (45 sq. inches, and an even more constrained 26 sq. inches). My goal is to find the right opening to yield a "moist" result on the meter throughout the container.


Regarding the staking system, in order to give the outer leg better rigidity, I have moved the AWS fill tube to the center edge of the Aeration Bench, see below:


So for those who are also in their DYI Earthbox construction process, learn from my experiences to avoid making my mistakes.


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