Growing zucchini on my deck with a Grow Box! How cool is that? Photo by Steve Bender.

Grumpy is a merciless judge when it come to recommending gifts for gardeners. Only the coolest, most useful, most imaginative items make it past his jaundiced eye. And the first gift on his Christmas list this year is something you will absolutely love. The Grow Box.

This is the perfect solution for peeps whose only gardening space is a porch, deck, balcony, rooftop, or jail cell with a sunny windowsill. You can grow high-quality tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work great), beans, peppers, squash, lettuce, broccoli, onions, cabbage, eggplant, herbs, and other edibles in very little room.

Once you set up and plant the Grow Box, you'll be amazed at how much less care it takes than a row of veggies in the ground. You won't have to weed, won't have to feed, and only occasionally have to water. With the time you'll save, you'll be able to attend to important household tasks you've been putting off, like hanging Grumpy's portrait over your mantel.

A Closer Look Let's take a look at Grumpy's Grow Box just after he planted it to explain how it works.

emCute little baby zucchinis popping up shortly after planting last summer. The mat on top keeps down weedsbr /and helps you space plants properly. Photo by Steve Bender./em

The Grow Box consists of 3 or 4 main parts, depending on what you're growing.

  1. A 4-gallon water reservoir on the bottom easily filled using the front spout.
  2. A soil chamber separated by a plastic screen from the reservoir below.
  3. A fiber mat that covers the soil just below the lip of the box.
  4. A trellis you can snap into the side of the box if you're growing vining veggies.

Assembly is really easy. Grumpy appreciates that, as every time he successfully replaces a light bulb at home, he experiences a sense of accomplishment comparable to that of Neil Armstrong setting foot onto the Moon.

You fill the soil chamber with high-quality potting soil and then add organic, slow-release fertilizer that comes with the Grow Box. Water wicks up from the reservoir into the soil and carries nutrients to the roots of your plants. One application of fertilizer lasts an entire growing season. The size of the water reservoir means you can leave home for a week and your veggies will still be kicking when you return. Hey, I'm down with this!

A Most Excellent Idea As mentioned before, the Grow Box's fiber mat is marked to help you correctly space veggie plants, whether they be tomatoes or lettuce or zucchini. You just cut a small triangular flap in the mat, insert the seed or transplant, and that's that. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to veggies. I just planted my box with trailing Cool Wave pansies for winter and spring.

emCool Wave pansies spill over the edge of the Grow Box a few weeks after planting. Photo by Steve Bender./em

The Cool Waves look a little sparse now, but they spread quickly. You won't be able to see the Grow Box in a couple of weeks.

The Nitty-Gritty The Grow Box sizes up at 28 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 12 inches high. It comes in colors of green or terra-cotta. Yeah, it's UV-resistant plastic, but that also makes it lightweight and weather resistant.

Click here to order online and send some happy gardener a Grow Box. (Grumpy receives not a penny for this -- so wrong!) Each one costs $29.95 plus S & H, but there's a special offer for Grumpy's readers! You can have 3 grow boxes gift-wrapped and delivered for Christmas (even to 3 different addresses) for $99. Just be sure to write "PGCM" in the notes box on the screen when you order. You'll receive the discount when your credit card is charged.