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Can I grow plants in waxed cardboard boxes?

 
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I was thinking of trying to get waxed cardboard boxes from my local supermarket and using them to plant some herbs on my rooftop.

Is there anything wrong with this or is this a good idea?
 
pollinator
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I wonder about doing this on a rooftop, as I think the boxes would break down and dump your soil. Or have you thought about that already?
 
Eric Giordano
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I was thinking that waxed cardboard wouldn't break down, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.
 
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I think that the biggest worry would be sunlight melting the wax off.  
Other than that, it seems like a grand idea, the wax coating would be fairly water repellent at least at first if not all the way through a season of growing.
It seems the factor would be erosion of the wax and there is only one way to find out for sure.
Give it a go, at the worst you would notice the wax turning white and eroding and then just setting it in some other container might be all that is needed.

Redhawk
 
chip sanft
pollinator
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Eric Giordano wrote:I was thinking that waxed cardboard wouldn't break down, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.



The waxed boxes I've seen are made of waxed cardboard. This means the edges of various sorts are open to the inside layer and water could work its way in over time. I'd also expect the UV rays of the sun to contribute to the deterioration of both the coating and the paper, and stress over time to lead to cracks in the wax. Not to mention freezing wet weather. Etc.

All that said, though, as Bryant notes there's no reason not to give it a try. Especially if you're not expecting these boxes to be permanent but instead to be a bootstrap solution, it seems worth working through. You could do this at first, then move on to something more permanent next time.
 
Eric Giordano
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What if I lined the boxes with a trash bag and even let it hang over the sides to basically shield it from rain?
 
chip sanft
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Eric Giordano wrote:What if I lined the boxes with a trash bag and even let it hang over the sides to basically shield it from rain?



How long are you wanting these to last? I would tend to think in terms of some sort of thicker plastic if you wanted any durability at all -- something like the film used for vapor barrier. Or maybe something like used billboard stuff? Though putting plastic in contact with your soil might cause some people to think twice.

This is a really interesting project though: how to make planting containers out of reused cardboard! I think it's a great idea.
 
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We get food scraps from a local restaurant and sometimes we get a bunch in those boxes. We've had some seem to maintain their structure for weeks, but not months, out in the elements. I don't think they'd last well enough. If you're thinking of moving them occasionally, I'm pretty sure that won't work.

Also, can you be sure the wax is really OK for you? Sure, it is probably OK being food grade, but you never know what gick might be in it (or in the cardboard or ink).

Finally, using plastic as a liner leads me to think it would be better to just get some plastic containers. If you are considering plastic liners then toxic gick probably isn't a big concern for you. You can probably find suitable containers for as free as you can waxed boxes.
 
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I wonder if you could get the plastic milk crates. I saw a yt video where they were lined w/ hay and filled w/ soil to grow carrots.
 
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Waxed boxes will make a lot of mess, they break down. How about these styrofoam boxes you can get at the greengrocer? At least in Australia you can get them. I get a lot of big pots at the tip too.
 
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Eric Giordano wrote:What if I lined the boxes with a trash bag and even let it hang over the sides to basically shield it from rain?



I've done this with plastic milk crates and they made an amazing container garden.  

UV rays don't destroy a milk crate the way they would quickly do a number on waxed cardboard.
 
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I make plant pots out of plastic food containers. here what I get is 15 litre cooking oil jugs and I cut the top off and make holes in the bottom with a hot nail. There, you might get those food bucket-size containers, and at least they would be of plastic that is currently considered food-safe, unlike garbage bags.
 
Angelika Maier
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I wouldn't use an extra garbage bag- that means more plastic! I think there are so many containers around which you can use straight away without the plastic. If it is a roof - bear in mind that you don't overdo it because of the extra load and that you put something underneath - most contructions don't like all the extra organic matter. I really recommend a trip to the tip or have a look at freecycle. Kiddy poosl make great containers for waterplants like water chestnuts and gotu kola.
 
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