How to Make a Gardening Earth Box


An earth box is a container for growing large plants with extensive root systems, such as tomatoes or other vegetables. The earth box is a self-contained system that has everything that a plant needs to grow well. Typical earth boxes have a chamber for holding water that is separate from the container for soil. The water wicks into the soil chamber as the plant needs it. Although commercially sold earth boxes can be expensive, an inexpensive version can be created using items that purchased at your local hardware store.

Step 1

Draw a line bisecting one 5 gallon tub along the width. Make this line 4 inches from the bottom of the tub.

Step 2

Cut this tub in half along the line using a utility knife. When the earth box is assembled, the lower half will be your water reservoir and the upper half will be your soil chamber.

Step 3

Place the bottom of this tub face down on the lid, and trace around the edge.

Step 4

Cut along this line to make the lid smaller. Discard the outer edge that you trim away. What is left will be a barrier to separate the soil chamber from the water reservoir.

Step 5

Drill 1/2 inch holes in the lid using the drill and 1/2-inch drill bit. Space the holes every 1 inch in the bottom. Stagger each row of holes, and make each row 1 inch apart.

Step 6

Place the open end of the PVC pipe against the lid and trace around it. Cut this out to make an opening for the PVC pipe. This pipe will allow you to pour water into the reservoir without having to pour it though the earth chamber.

Step 7

Place the bottom half of your tub face-up in the location where you plan to grow your plants.

Step 8

Place your four pieces of 6 inch wide PVC pipe in the bottom of the water reservoir. These will help to support the weight of the soil chamber. Space them as far apart as you can for more even weight distribution.

Step 9

Place the lid on top of the PVC pipe.

Step 10

Cover the lid with mesh window screen fabric. Cut the edges of the fabric so that it will fit over the top of the lid. Cut a matching hole in the screen to match the 3/4-inch PVC pipe hole.

Step 11

Insert the 3/4-inch PVC pipe into the lid and the window screen so that one open end of the PVC pipe is in the reservoir.

Step 12

Spread a thin layer of epoxy along the bottom end of the top section of the tub.

Step 13

Press this section of the tub firmly onto the lid. Leave the tub alone while the epoxy dries and cures.

Step 14

Fill the soil container with peat-based potting soil.

Step 15

Plant your plants in the potting soil.

Step 16

Cover the plants with a weed barrier cloth. Cut the cloth so that it fits around the 3/4-inch PVC pipe.

Step 17

Cover the barrier cloth with a commercial mulch to prevent evaporation.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 gallon plastic tub
  • Drill
  • 1/2 inch drill bit
  • Mesh window screen fabric
  • 12-inch length of 3/4-inch PVC pipe
  • 4 pieces of 4 inch long, 6-inch PVC pipe
  • Utility knife
  • Marker
  • Weed barrier cloth
  • Mulch
  • Scissors
  • Epoxy


  • DIY Earthbox
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  • Make a Self Contained Watering Container

Who Can Help

  • Craftser: DIY Earthbox (with tute) and 1 metric ton of Pics!
Keywords: earth box, self contained pot, container gardening

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.