I'm trying an Earthbox for the first time this spring, and a week after planting in one, I realized that I left the cover off of it. How vital is the cover? If truly necessary, is there anything I can do?
JenPeteFL, the cover keeps out weeds by excluding light and trapping seeds.
It also cuts down on evaporation. I have found this to be a 'mixed benefit'; sometimes I have had to top water (under the cover) and on one occasion I found that the medium was too moist for lemon balm Melissa officinalis. I removed the cover.
You can use a mulch. Use something sterile (free from pathogens). If you are unsure, 'cook' it to at least 170ÃÂ°F.
Thanks, Ronalawn. Do I need to worry about rain causing the fertilizer to mix at too high of a concentration and burning the roots of my plants? Mostly bell peppers and hot peppers.
JenPeteFL, I doubt it. At first the rain will tend to move the soluble components downwards. Excess solution will escape through the over-flow opening and take the dissolved components with it. There might be trouble if the medium were allowed to dry out after the rain event. The dissolved material in the medium will become concentrated and harm the plant(s). Much of the success of growing plants in the earth-box depends upon using the right medium and fertilizer and keeping to a proper watering schedule.
I have been growing in EBs for several years. They have wonderful helps on their site. EB is a closed system and EB does not recommend using it without the cover. I have done it before, but I live in a rainless summer climate, and I still provided a covering of sorts. Rain from the top will wash the ferts away, just as in any other top watered pot. When I have planted large transplants I make my own cover out of trash bags secured with wide office clips.
use the cover. everything linda said and its a good way too get gnats laying eggs in your soil. i have 30 plus swc's and none go without the covers.