Garden On Wheelz™: Product Review
The Garden On Wheelz™ received The Undergardener’s (BSEE) highest praise: “This is really well-engineered.” And it goes together quickly. It’s fabulous for growing plants from seed or starts. Being able to move it into a spot along the driveway that’s in full sun for most of the day is a big plus on our heavily-shaded property.
How To Use It
I use the Garden On Wheelz™ to start seeds and as a kind of kitchen garden to grow stir-fry mix, Swiss chard, radishes, and cut-and-come-again greens, such as spinach, mescalun, leaf lettuce, etc., to supplement salads.
You’ll still need to buy vegetables at the store or farmer’s market, but with a little imagination, some plant supports, a few square-foot gardening techniques, and being selective about what you grow, you can harvest a surprising amount of food from this portable garden.
It would also be great for growing herbs or flowers, holding plants over until you can get them into the ground, etc.
If you live in a condo, townhouse, or apartment this is an easy way to garden in a small space, or in places where homeowners’ associations prohibit any kind of in-ground plantings by residents. The Garden On Wheelz™ can also be positioned in front of windows indoors, in a sunroom, or wheeled out through patio doors for its daily dose of sunshine.
Ease of Use
Easy peasy. Once you’ve assembled the Garden On Wheelz™ and put in the soil, there isn’t much to do. Just roll it to a spot where it will get 6 – 8 hours of sun each day, pop in your seeds or seedlings, check the soil moisture regularly, and water when the soil feels dry.
How It Works
The Undergardener and I admired the design and execution of the Garden On Wheelz™, which combines a number of best practices for growing plants in containers. The design addresses a number of potential “operator errors,” enabling novice gardeners to have a successful first-time experience. Skilled gardeners will also like having a spare, portable growing space for growing on or hardening off seedlings and to use as a staging area for annuals and perennials that haven’t quite made it into the ground.
The Garden On Wheelz™ has a planting box that’s 12 inches deep, 21 inches wide and 36 inches long, allowing you to grow some shallow root crops (radishes, midget carrots, onions, beets, etc.), herbs, and any type of leafy vegetable, as well as ornamental herbaceous plants. By choosing dwarf or midget varieties, you could also manage some tomatoes, cucumbers, or other vining crops.
The growing space incorporates a proven technique of circulating air around plant roots by raising the soil off the very bottom of the planting box with aeration panels. This is especially important if you’re away from home during a heavy rainfall, or have accidentally overwatered. Any water that isn’t absorbed by the soil, filters down onto the drainage tray beneath it. Combined with the aeration panels, this ensures that the plant roots are never in standing water, avoiding root rot.
The drainage tray has a rubber stopper that allows excess water to flow out of the drain and into a watering can below so that it can be re-used. At first I felt the watering can and its storage area were a little silly, but they turned out to be very handy. Close tolerances in the manufacturing process ensure that the watering can is precisely aligned with the drain hole. When I realized the number of potential problems this solved, I started to appreciate how much thought had gone into the design.
A plastic bin that acts as a storage area for the built-in watering can is mounted over the two front wheels. There’s enough room to stow a trowel, plant snips, gloves, a misting bottle, or other small items. The Garden On Wheelz™ can’t roll away on its own once you set it down, since the back legs have no wheels. If you live on a slope like I do, use caution moving it downhill when it’s fully-loaded.
Putting It All Together
The Garden On Wheelz™ requires assembly and arrives in a single, long rectangular cardboard (recyclable) box. I couldn’t carry it by myself, more because of the bulk than the weight (38lbs.), so if you’re short, you may want to get a helper. Alternatively, you could unpack it wherever the delivery person left it. Convenient hand-holds on each side of the 46” x 22” box make it easy to carry but at 6’3,” The Undergardener simply tucked it under his arm and asked, “Where do you want this?”
The easy-to-follow instructions are well-illustrated with photos and all of the parts are clearly marked and labeled. Open each hardware bag only when you’re ready to use it. You’ll also need a large Phillips-head screwdriver.
Plan to work on a long table (like a plastic folding table) outside, or on your garage workbench. Unpack all of the parts and set the large plastic pieces to one side, or on the ground. Lay the metal pieces, wheels, and hardware out exactly the way they’re shown in the instruction sheet and follow along step by step.
Caveat: Watch out for Step 3b and make sure to fit the “H-bar assembly” to the legs in the correct direction (end pieces should face up, not down). It isn’t intuitively obvious and we made a big mistake that ate up a lot of time; we nearly broke the frame in the process. Everything fits smoothly and precisely, and bolts together easily when you’ve got it right. If you experience any difficulty at all, you’ve put it together incorrectly – watch the video.
Watch the Video
There’s a critical piece of information about step 3b in the video that’s not entirely clear in the printed instructions. I was somewhat miffed that the 20-something inventor of the product assumed that everyone would watch the assembly video first and/or have it handy on their smartphone. This is not how the overwhelming majority of gardeners (women over 50) work.
Given that the Garden On Wheelz™ is being marketed as an ideal solution for seniors and the disabled who still want a way to garden, the instructions should be clarified and the note to view the video be more prominently displayed.
We were able to adjust the Garden On Wheelz™ to correct working heights for either me or The Undergardener. The legs adjust (when the planting box is empty) from 30.5 to 37 inches. This is a major plus for folks not of average height, or for those who prefer to, or must, sit while gardening due to back, mobility, or other physical problems.
I was skeptical that I’d be able to use it sitting down, even at its lowest adjustment, but I was wrong. I was comfortable and everything I needed was within easy reach.
I recommend making all height adjustments to the legs BEFORE you connect them to the tray, even though the instructions say you can do it as long as the planting box is empty. The Undergardener was able to do this but I doubt that a short person could manage it easily. DO NOT attempt to make a height adjustment once the growing box is filled with soil.
The lighter the soil mix you use, the easier the Garden On Wheelz™ will be to move around, important for anyone who plans to roll it in and out of the house or garage regularly. Balance that portability against how you plan to use it and how you feel about using soil amendments like fertilizer. Don’t try to move the Garden On Wheelz™ after a heavy rain until you’ve drained any excess water by removing the rubber plug from the drainage tray. The water is designed to run into the watering can directly beneath the plug.
Filling with Soil
The Garden On Wheelz™ holds about 5 or 6 bags of soil mix. Its load capacity is 150lbs. Bags of top soil weigh about 40 pounds apiece, for a total of 240lbs. Don’t fill the planting box only with top soil or fill it all the way to the brim; you’ll exceed its capacity and you won’t be able to move it. While I’m not a fan of commercial mixes, I did use a combination of top soil, my own compost, organic mushroom compost, and a soilless product. Any lightweight potting mixture, vermiculite, pearlite, etc., will do.
Bonus Use: Extending the Growing Season
As an experiment, I asked The Undergardener to build something so I could use the Garden On Wheelz™ as a mini-greenhouse to extend the growing season. Here in Zone 5B, the first killing frost arrives around Halloween and the last one exits any time between April 15th and May 5th.
Once the day-length shortens and temperatures drop in the fall, you won’t get much, if any, additional growth, but you can hold the plants you already have considerably past that first hard freeze. Despite nighttime temperatures dropping into the teens, I still had viable plants well into December, although this required nightly covering with a heavy felt-lined tarp.
Early spring planting brings the opposite problem. If wet soil stays too cold, seed won’t germinate or can rot. I planted my seeds on April 5th and had sprouts (mostly radishes) by April 15th. Nighttime temperatures were still dipping into the 20s, so I needed both the plastic cover and the tarp through the end of the month. With no leaves to temper the sun, this is a balancing act – take the plastic off when the seedlings will neither freeze nor fry.
I’d love to see the manufacturer create a more elegant ventilated version of our greenhouse cover as an accessory.
Essentially, none. My Garden On Wheelz™ was outdoors all year and, except for cleaning up a bit of soil that splashed up onto the lower portion of plastic and clearing autumn leaves out of the storage bin, there was nothing to do. There’s been no weeding, and I’ve seen no bugs. Our veggie-chomping wildlife menagerie has, so far, completely ignored it.
Be sure to drain out any water that may have built up before you store the Garden On Wheelz™ for the season – I collected about a gallon that I diluted to use on my houseplants over the winter.
Specifications and Features
Plant Box Dimensions: 44.5”L x 24”W x 30″-37”H
Growing Area: 36”L x 21”W x 12” D
Food Grade Plastic: Made from UV resistant, BPA/PVC free, food grade plastic, important if you’re growing vegetables.
The cardboard shipping box can be recycled or composted.
The built-in water recycling system returns nutrient rich run-off water for reuse.
I gave the Garden On Wheelz™ a 4-Shovel rating, mostly because the printed instructions need a minor clarification (could be fixed with a sticker, or on next printing), there is no user’s gardening manual for novices (like the one that comes with the more expensive Grow Camp©), there’s an assumption that everyone has access to the videos, and it would be nice to have some type of clear, ventilated dome or cover that allows the Garden On Wheels™ to act as a mini-greenhouse or cold frame.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend it. While the young inventor didn’t think of every conceivable bell and whistle when he designed it, the Garden On Wheelz™ does what it claims it will do and does it well.
I put the suggested list price of $299 in the category of you-get-what-you-pay-for. The Garden On Wheelz™ is rugged, sturdy, won’t tip over, and holds up well. I left mine out all year in blazing sun and below-zero temperatures, soaked in rainstorms, and buried in snow and ice. The plastic did not become brittle or fade and the whole thing looks brand new.
Where to Buy
Garden On Wheelz™ lists for $299. You can buy it at Global Gardening Friends, from the inventor at LifeCycle Gardens http://www.lifecyclegardens.com/garden-on-wheelz.php, Plow and Hearth http://www.plowhearth.com/lifecycle-adjustable-garden-on-wheelzandtrade;-system.htm, and similar sites. Discounted prices are available from some big box stores and online catalogs, such as Gold Violin http://goldviolin.blair.com/p/garden-on-wheelz/105495.uts# , but check out any shipping charges to make sure you’re actually getting a bargain.
Although the Garden on Wheelz normally retails for $299, we have an exclusive SPECIAL OFFER for GPReview readers for the first 5 buyers – $30 off with coupon code GPR30GGF when you buy from Global Garden Friends. This special offer is only valid on purchases directly from Global Garden Friends.
And now over to you – Have you tried a raised or elevated planter? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Global Garden Friends for giving us a free Garden On Wheelz™® to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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