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Albo-grow Box:

A Sub-irrigated Planter
on Steroids!

The Albo-grow Box is a large, self-watering, raised SIP or sub-irrigated planter that you can use in your urban garden. This is by far my most complicated endeavor in the world of wicking SIPs. The funny part is, this is actually one of my very first projects. It is a permanent structure that has already gone through multiple seasons of use. It is entirely my original design. But I'm sharing my specs with the world!

USAGE: This self-watering garden system is perfect for elderly, handicapped or disabled people who have difficulty bending over. It is partially pest resistant since it is raised off of the ground. In particular though, since this is an SIP, it is a water-wise, drought resistant planter. The sub-irrigated water reservoir stores rain water and minimizes water run-off. It makes watering so easy!

Some perennial herbs can be grown in an Albo-grow Box. But keep a few things in mind. In colder regions, the potting mix is likely to freeze solid. Chives will survive this. Other herbs may not. Also, your entire box will eventually become root bound. Newer plantings will likely be choked out by older, more established perennials.

I recommend a rotation of Spring / Summer / Fall annual vegetables. Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach, Mustard, etc. are good candidates. Actually, growing lettuce in a raised self-watering garden box like this has be a dream come true for me. The planter is high even to keep rabbits out. And the lettuce is totally drought proof!

CAPACITY:
Estimated: 97 gallons of potting mix.
Reservoir: 20 gallons of water.

Albo-grow-Box, Self-Watering, Sub-Irrigated Garden Planter -Diagram 1
The Albo-grow Box is a semi-permanent, raised, sub-irrigated planter. pin it


Albo-grow-Box, Self-Watering, Sub-Irrigated Garden Planter -Diagram 2
It can hold a vast amount of water, while maintaining good root aeration. pin it

Directions:

Unfortunately, this project was too complex for me to itemize each and every step. I have however, created a PDF showing the basic specs and materials list for building your own self-watering garden box.


→ DOWNLOAD PDF ←


2011 Urban Gardening Growing Season:


Albo-grow Box - Setting up my raised SIP wicking box
Albo-grow Box - Setting up my raised SIP wicking box in the garage.
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Self Watering Garden Box - SIP box with notched treated 4x4 legs
I used notched, treated 4x4 lumber for the legs.
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SIP Grow Box - Sides made of treated 1x6 boards
SIP Grow Box - The sides were made of treated 1x6 boards.
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SIP planter reservoir created from corrugated perforated drain pipes
SIP Planter Reservoir - The water reservoir is created from corrugated, perforated drain pipes.
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Albo-grow Sub-irrigated Garden Box - Bottom is supported by 2x4 boards
The bottom of the box is supported by treated 2x4 boards. This can hold all that weight with no problems.
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Wicking Box - Plastic caps under legs to reduces rotting
Albo-grow Box - I used plastic caps at the base of the legs to reduce ground contact and prevent premature rotting.
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Sub-irrigated Planter - Down spout (fill tube) made from PVC tubing
Sub-irrigated Planter - The down spout (fill tube) was made from some PVC tubing.
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Self Watering Garden Box Reservoir - Drain pipes capped off with fabric
Albo-grow Box Reservoir - The drain pipes were capped off with synthetic fabric to keep out dirt. Note how closely they are placed together.
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Setting up sub-irrigation planter making sure it is level
When setting up any sub-irrigation planter, be sure to make sure it is as level as possible.
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SIP Raised Wicking Bed - Blending potting mix on a tarp
SIP Raised Wicking Bed - You can blend your custom potting mix on a tarp. Then begin filling your SIP box.
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SIP Albo-grow Box - Made with high grade stainless bolts
Albo-grow Box - Try to use the best fasteners you can get. For treated, you need high grade stainless bolts. Any decking screws need to be coated to resist corrosion.
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Sub-irrigated Garden Box - Dont place the overflow tube too high
Sub-irrigated Garden Box - Note the placement of the overflow tube. Don't place it too high! Some tutorials mess this part up.
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SIP Grow Box - Filled with potting mix & topped with wood mulch
SIP Grow Box - Filled with potting mix and topped with a little bit of wood mulch.
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Mighty Albo-grow Box - Ultimate in drought proof self-watering gardening
The Mighty Albo-grow Box - The ultimate in drought proof, self-watering gardening!
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SIP Box - Ledges allow window box planters to be attached
Extending the SIP Box - I added ledges allowing me to attach window box planters on the sides.
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Albo-grow Box - With window boxes attached to the sides
Watering the window boxes was slightly easier with the addition of some soda bottles.
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SIP Urban Garden 2011 - Lettuce Peppers & Chives
Albo-grow Box - Urban Gardening 2011 - Lettuce, Peppers & Chives!
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Albo-grow Box (2011) - PVC frame creates mini greenhouse
Albo-grow Box (2011) - You can attach a pvc frame to create a mini greenhouse!
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Albo-grow Box (2011) - Protect from frost with plastic cover
Albo-grow Box (2011) - Season extending is a great urban gardening tool. I draped 6 mil plastic over the mini greenhouse to protect against late frost.
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Albo-grow Box (2011) - Lettuce received shade & protection from sun
Albo-grow Box (2011) - The lettuce received some shade and was protected from the intense sunlight.
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Self Watering Garden Box - My 1st sub-irrigated urban garden (2011)
Albo-grow Box - My 1st sub-irrigated urban garden (2011)
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Raised Wicking Box - Peppers shading lettuce plants
Raised Wicking Garden Box (2011) - The peppers were already beginning to shade the lettuce plants.
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SIP Urban Gardening - Lettuce Peppers & Chives growing huge
SIP Urban Gardening 2011 - Lettuce, Peppers & Chives are starting to grow huge!
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Organic Urban Gardening - Kale was grown in window boxes
Organic Urban Gardening 2011 - Kale was grown in the window boxes.
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Water-wise High Density Garden - Massive pepper plants
Water-wise High Density Garden 2011 - The peppers were lush and massive!
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Albo-grow Box - Side mounting brackets
Albo-grow Box - I added some mounting brackets to an additional side.
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Extra window box for further planting density
Grow Box Side - This allowed me to add an extra window box for further planting density.
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Extra window box enhances look of SIP planter
Albo-grow Box - The extra window box enhanced the look of the SIP planter.
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Albo-grow Box (2011) - Spinach seedlings grown in window box
Albo-grow Box (2011) - Some spinach seedlings grown in the window box.
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High Density Urban Gardening - DIY self-watering planter
High Density Urban Gardening - Made possible by a DIY self-watering planter!
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2012 Urban Gardening Growing Season:


Albo-grow SIP Box - Early Spring 2012
Albo-grow SIP Box - Early Spring 2012 and ready for planting.
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Wicking Planter - Chives survive Winter time to plant marigolds
Wicking Planter (2012) - The chives survived the Winter with no issues and it was time to plant some marigolds.
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Albo-grow Box - Chive flowers & annual flowers
Albo-grow Box - Beautiful perennial chive flowers and some annual flowers too.
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SIP Raised Planter - Growing lettuce but no peppers
SIP Raised Planter (2012) - I decided to grow lettuce this year but omitted the peppers due to limited space.
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Albo-grow Box - Lettuce seedlings had to fight chive roots
Albo-grow Box (2012) - The young lettuce seedlings had to fight the chive roots which were already established.
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Sub-irrigation Planter - Stripped out chive roots to make room
Sub-irrigation Planter - After stripping out some of the chive roots I was able to make room for the lettuce to grow.
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Self-watering Garden - Lettuce under hot Summer sun
Self-watering Garden (2012) - These lettuce were being crushed by the brutal Summer sun. The water reservoir kept them going, but it was more sun than they needed.
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SIP Lettuce - Insect netting is a shade cloth
SIP Lettuce - I used some insect netting as a shade cloth to provide some relief.
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Albo-grow Box - Lettuce & chives in my Urban Garden 2012
Albo-grow Box - Lettuce and chives in my Urban Garden 2012
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SIPs Make Healthy Plants - Lettuce remains crisp
SIPs Make Healthy Plants - The lettuce remained crisp due to a constant supply of water!
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HOW TO (Make an SIP Raised Bed) →