The grow-box system of agriculture was first outlined by Jacob Mittleider in his book "More Food From Your Garden." Mittleider created the distant cousin of hydroponics as a way to raise vegetables when space is limited and existing soil conditions are poor. Plants are anchored in a growing medium that is layered over soil. The medium provides liquid nutrients and fertilization and the soil provides additional nutrients and elements.
The grow box may be purchased or constructed at home. The typical Mittleider grow box is 8 inches high with no bottom. The length and width is at the discretion of the gardener. The ideal box allows for the gardener to access all areas easily without entering the box, which is placed outside on the bare soil. Grow boxes may be purchased that feature an enclosed bottom, which should be filled with soil and then covered with 8 inches of growing medium. This allows for the grow box to be used in greenhouses, indoors and on concrete patios.
Growing Medium Material
The growing medium composition may include perlite, sand, peat moss or sawdust. The composition of the medium is not as important as the ability of the material to drain well and remain aerated.
Plants should be spaced in the grow boxes at 1/2 the recommended distance for traditional gardening. For example, if the traditional spacing for the plant is 18 inches in a row garden, the plants should be placed 9 inches apart in a grow box.
Addition of Fertilizer
Fertilizer, or a hydroponics nutrient solution, is applied weekly to the base of each plant. It is essential to apply the appropriate amount of fertilizer. Applying too much will burn the roots of the plant.
Basic Growing Considerations
When planting in grow boxes, the gardener should remember all basic rules of growing. Plants should be located according to their light and nutritional requirements and by consulting companion planting guides.