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#1 of 11 Old 01-08-2009, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is this feasible?

I have a little space this year (last summer my landlady took all my patio space before I got pots out there, and had to plant a garden at my mom's house). But it's my driveway. I'm pretty sure I can do whatever I want with it.

My initial plan was a straw bale garden. I decided not too, I don't want to try and figure out how to get the bales here. So I was just going to collect 5 gallon buckets and use those. But I still really like the idea of the garden composting itself.

While brainstorming last night, I came up with cardboard boxes. They'd break down, I know, but how fast? I live in a dry climate. Is there any way I can make it work? I'm thinking if I don't put them directly on the ground (on bricks or something), they'd hold up ok.

Any ideas?

~Dawn
 
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#2 of 11 Old 01-08-2009, 08:53 PM
 
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Well there will be dirt in the boxes so even if you did set them up on bricks the dirt and moisture from the dirt would still be touching it.

I'm not completely zapping down your idea, but maybe containers like the 5 gallon buckets would be better....

Lets see working with your idea of using cardboard boxes.... thicker the cardboard and even waxed boxes would hold up longer. What is your idea with using the boxes, is it to keep the dirt mounded up? is it because the boxes themselves will break down eventually?

what about drainaige? You could put holes in the bottom and even the sides if you wanted to.

They have the little peat pots that plants are started in... they are then planted in the soil, the peat breaks down and you don't diturb the roots, so using the cardoard... but on a much larger scale for the outside edges of the garden I could see that working. With the little peat pots you have to worry about them drying out quickly, don't know if it's the material of the peat that wicks the water away, the fact that the amount of soil is usually small, the soil itself is more designed to start seeds not grow them long term... it would be doable, though, better soil, something a little heavier...

you could make the cardboard thicker... stacking a slightly smaller box inside a bigger one, maybe even doing this a couple of times to make the walls thicker.

what will happen though once the boxes do break down, would you just get new boxes and fill the soil back into them?

is the driveway concrete or gravel? I wonder if the boxes/dirt would stain the concrete? would your landlady mind if it did? I guess it could be cleaned somehow but you might loose some of your deposit eventually.

I think it's neat you are thinking outside the box!!!! me and my play on words
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#3 of 11 Old 01-08-2009, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, its more about recycling. Boxes are already here, ready to be re-used. Instead of throwing them away, I would re-use them, then they break down and become compost.

I could get used 5 gallon buckets, sure, but I'd need about 10 - 15 of them, and at the end of the season, then what? I have a bunch of plastic. I'm trying to have a plastic-free environment.

My current idea is to put about 6- 8 boxes together in a rectangle (three in front, three in back), then tie together with twine. Then only the outermost boxes would be a potential problem. Wouldn't that be about as stable as a straw bale?

My new landlady is my best friend. She's incredibly laid back about that stuff. I'll ask first, of course, but I'm sure she'd be fine with it.

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#4 of 11 Old 01-08-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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Regular cardboard would break down a little quicker than a growing season. Try this experiment: Take a small cardboard box and stick it in your sink. Wet it down completely. Leave it sitting there for an hour so it finishes draining, then set it aside and tomorrow do the same thing. How long does it take before you can't pick it up? A week? 2 weeks? That's with no weight pressing against it, and no soil holding water against it, no cats pawing it, without you leaning across it, etc.

Yes, it will break down, and using it isn't necessarily a bad idea, but you would still need something on the outside to give it more support when the cardboard starts dissolving, IMO. Whether that's boards or straw bales or whatever.

You also need to consider what the cardboard is made of, whether it's been printed with petroleum inks, etc... it may not be something you want to use for a food garden.

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#5 of 11 Old 01-09-2009, 03:44 AM
 
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I was reading somewhere about people using waxed cardboard boxes for container gardens. We happen to have some lying around (from our CSA that we never returned ). We're gonna try using them this year for containers (since we never have enough containers).
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#6 of 11 Old 01-09-2009, 09:59 AM
 
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Last year, I had some boxes and I had a section where there was sun but no soil. So I used the boxes. They broke down pretty fast. And worse, they seemed to wick out the moisture from the soil. I do think the buckets would work better.
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#7 of 11 Old 01-09-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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I was thinking about this idea all evening... the worst case scenerio is that the cardboard would break down and you would end up with the edges slumped down.

I don't think it would cause extreme problems - but with the cardboard breaking down process it will steal nitrogen from the surrounding soil so don't start with nitrogen poor soil if you can help it, just add a little manure if you can find some to enrich the soil, it will be good for the plants growing tehre too. Read up on manure if you haven't and stay away from fresh 'hot' manures like poultry. If it's aged you can use just about any.

Do you have any wood (non pressure treated) laying around or can you salvage some somewhere?, you could use very little wood combined with the cardboard boxes, using the wood in addition to the twine to hold the outside of the boxes stable.

My hubby doesn't like that I use cardboard in the garden, I use it laid flat under mulch in the paths to keep the weeds down and help with moisture, (don't have to use as much mulch that way and like you say it does compost down eventually.) We have came to a compromise that I don't use boxes that have weird stuff like motor oil, antifreeze or bug sprays in them.

We just moved and have a bunch of boxes laying around, I might just try this out come spring directly on the soil where I am planning on building some mounded, no sides raised beds. Like I said the worst case scenerio is that the boxes do break down and you end up with the slumped sides... which in my case is eventually what I'm wanting my beds to be.
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#8 of 11 Old 01-09-2009, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have "chinchilla manure", thanks to my lovely chinchilla, Sammy. Lol. It's just like rabbit, doesn't need to be composted before use.

I think I'm going to try it, if I doesn't work, I'll get buckets and transplant everything. If it does work, well, new way to garden!

~Dawn
 
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#9 of 11 Old 01-10-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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If you do have to resort to buckets, it may be worth contacting restraunts. THey usually just go into the dumpster and straight to the landfill. You'd be "saving them" from a lifetime in the dump by re-using and re-cycling them when you're done.

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#10 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 06:19 PM
 
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Also with the buckets, you can always stack them up at the end of the year and reuse them next year. That is what I would do with them.

I like the idea of putting the cardboard in the rows to help keep the weeds down, I think that we will have to try that today.

Good luck with your boxes and if you do it, please let us know how it goes.
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#11 of 11 Old 01-18-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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Here's somebody who has done cardboard box gardening.

http://jugalbandi.info/2007/08/potatoes/

I love these folks. Very inspiring!

nerdy mom to DD1 7yo, D2 infant
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