The Best Vegetable Garden Equipment of 2023

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Dec 15, 2023

The Best Vegetable Garden Equipment of 2023

You don’t even have to leave your couch until it’s time to plant. Jump to a Section We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive

You don’t even have to leave your couch until it’s time to plant.

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We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Food & Wine / Jennifer Zyman

I am not a professional vegetable gardener, but I dabble enough not to have to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, and chilies during the summer months. This year, I’ve been trying my hand at melons. Since I live in Atlanta, I have an extended growing season and can often do a second planting leading into the fall, where I will also grow lettuce, kale, and more herbs until it gets too cold. While I have enough land in my backyard for a sprawling garden, much of my garden’s success can be attributed to the proper equipment.

Through the years, I’ve made many gardening decisions and mistakes and tried every type of planter, whether upside-down strawberry planters or professionally installed in-ground ones — I have used them all. The one choice that never fails me is my EarthBox system, an all-in-one gardening system set and the centerpiece of my garden.

Amazon

Each EarthBox garden kit includes a planting box with a soil capacity of two cubic feet and a water reservoir capacity of three gallons. The kit also has an aeration screen, a water fill tube, two reversible mulch covers, one pound of fertilizer, one-pound dolomite, and four casters. Note: You have to buy the soil and plants separately.

EarthBox has numerous styles, such as the classic, which I recommend, the junior, or the root vegetable kit. The only differences are the size and shape so that you can tailor it to your space.

Instead of a traditional in-ground garden, the EarthBox is a sub-irrigated planter. Each component plays a part. The aeration screen allows oxygen to flow and prevents root rot. The two wicking chambers get packed with soil and draw water from the reservoir to hydrate plants. The watering tubes allow you to fill the reservoir without getting your plants wet, and it also enables you to keep your plants watered for longer intervals. You can buy an automatic watering attachment that connects to your irrigation system directly from EarthBox, but I find filling the reservoirs meditative. Unless it’s blazing hot, I can go a few days between watering.

I started using EarthBox when I lived in an apartment with a roof deck in downtown Atlanta. I had no greenspace — not one square foot, even. So, I bought one after a friend strongly recommended them. As someone who had never even grown a basil plant with any success, I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow, I grew vegetables on my roof — even okra and long beans. To my surprise, the EarthBox really was so easy to use.

I just followed the comprehensive instructions included with each kit. Maintenance was otherwise typical for gardening, such as watering and ensuring the plants were disease free. When I moved into a house with a yard, I was faced with many choices, such as above-ground planters and raised garden beds. I went with raised beds made from wood that I had a fancy gardening company install, but they didn’t do the trick. The beds didn’t have the right amount of sun, and the wood got infested with termites. I had to start over again. My friend insisted I go back to EarthBox, and I listened.

Today, my garden is sprawling with three types of cucumbers, eight types of tomatoes, tons of herbs, two different melons, and a load of chilies. Once the garden was established, I now visit every other day or so to check the water and prune any plants with dead leaves. I find it is best to keep the mulch covers free of any debris so it doesn’t promote disease, and the only sprays I use for pests and diseases are copper fungicide and neem oil. After big storms, I sometimes need to rearrange vines and stems so they have more support if they’ve flopped over from the rain. Other than that, the EarthBox system is pretty hands-off until it's time to replant.

Price at time of publish: $54

Food & Wine / Jennifer Zyman

Amazon

The only long-term issue with the EarthBox is the plastic casing. It’s not the most aesthetically appealing if you are trying to create an organic and lush oasis, as I did. I wanted a more organic-looking garden but didn’t want to use wood to enclose the EarthBoxes. It’s too much maintenance, and I have more modern taste.

Like many things in life, I turned to Amazon for the solution. My house has gray and black accents, so I chose concrete and weather-resistant fiberglass planters. They look like concrete but are pretty light and water and UV-resistant so that they will last. We put ours in over three years ago, and they are still holding strong. It took two of us to put the planters in since they were already full of soil. The EarthBox rests just on the rim, which might bother some people, but it significantly improves the look of the plastic casing by obscuring it completely. Mission accomplished.

Price at time of publish: $118

Target

When growing anything that climbs (think: cucumbers and indeterminate tomatoes or plants with no fixed growth height), staking is necessary. EarthBox has a proprietary staking system, which I have used in the past, but did not like as much because they were very floppy and not as secure. We get big storms often, and my plants need significant support not to fall over. Nothing is sadder than finding a beloved heirloom tomato plant lying on its side because your staking failed.

These wrought iron arbors are easy to install between two planters, which is how I configured them. The powder-coated finish ensures the gray finish remains protected, even in inclement weather. After a couple of years, they still look good, with no evidence of rust. If you don’t want to grow vegetables year-round, you can plant other climbing plants as rotation crops, but I like to plant Marigolds and other flowers. Just check your plant hardiness zone to see which plants are best for the climate in your area. Etsy is a great source for seedlings since many local farmers sell online and ship quickly if you don’t find seedlings in time. It happens to the best of us.

Price at time of publish: $310

Food & Wine / Jennifer Zyman

EarthBox has handy guides to help you figure out plant configurations, and their customer service is tops. When you’re ready to replant the following season, the company sells replant kits in organic or standard with more fertilizer, dolomite, and mulch covers. I also enlisted our lawn company to deliver slate chips to cover the ground as an accent. Slate chips are a more expensive alternative to wood mulch, but they last much longer, and you can order them online for pickup or delivery from Home Depot and Lowe’s. I love that I don’t have to replace it every season, and I need to replenish it as it starts to look sparse.

Even if you don’t have the space to build the garden I did, EarthBox has many options you can even put on an apartment balcony. Whatever your setup, homegrown tomatoes are a definite possibility.

CB2

Acapulco Black Egg Lounge chairs, $596 for the set (or $300 each) at CB2.

I knew I wanted these chairs before my garden was complete. They are part of a collection with a loveseat, too, if you want a matching set. I liked how comfortable these steel and PVC cord chairs were and how easy they were to clean. Since they have an open weave, debris, and water can fall through the seat, so they stay cleaner than most. The black color also disguises any dirt. We've found many other great patio furniture options if they're not your style.

Amazon

Keter Urban Knit Pouf Ottoman Set with Storage Table for Patio and Room Décor, $198 at Amazon.

I found this little ottoman and table set on Amazon. I wanted to find something durable that also looked modern and cozy. These woven plastic poufs fit the bill and are the perfect height for the chairs I used for the seating area. It has a table with a hidden compartment under the top where you can store items for the garden or things you don’t want to be exposed to the elements.

Amazon

Durable Solar LED patio Umbrellas with LED Lights, $70 at Amazon.

We like to sit out there at night for cocktails, so I wanted to add lights to my garden. We also needed shade, so a patio umbrella was key. This inexpensive solar umbrella with lights underneath did the trick. I love that the lights are bright and powered by a solar panel. It even has a button to turn the lights on and off so you can save the bulbs from burning out. We love it, and it has a hand crank for easy opening and closing.

Jennifer Zyman is a Senior Commerce Writer for Food & Wine and a recovering restaurant critic with a culinary school degree and over 15 years of food writing experience. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, Local Palate, National Geographic, Southern Living, and Thrillist. She wrote this story using research and personal gardening experience.

Price at time of publish: $54Material: Dimensions: Price at time of publish: $118Material: Dimensions: Price at time of publish: $310Material: Dimensions:Acapulco Black Egg Lounge chairs, $596 for the set (or $300 each) at CB2. Keter Urban Knit Pouf Ottoman Set with Storage Table for Patio and Room Décor, $198 at Amazon.Durable Solar LED patio Umbrellas with LED Lights, $70 at Amazon.