BasilBox is a gardening subscription that sends you non-GMO seeds and other natural or organic garden-related items, tailored to the season.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
The Subscription Box: BasilBox
The Cost: $30 a month, but subscribers can save by paying for 3, 6, or 12 months ahead of time
ACTIVE DEAL: Save 10% off your first box!
The Products: non-GMO seeds, natural and/or organic gardening products, and natural soaps or lotions with natural scents.
Shipping: $10. Ships to U.S. customers only.
Before I unpack my subscription boxes, I always like taking a peek at the information card as foreshadowing for what I'm about to find. The fabric pot and SoilMoist granules have me pretty curious!
Here's some info about the seed supplier, MIgardener, whose seeds came in this box. It took me a minute to realize that the "MI" in "MIgardener" stands for Michigan, which is where the company is based.
Prior to even opening this box, I was delighted to notice that its packing tape calls attention to its eco-friendly packaging (you can see said tape in the first photo at the top of the review). This card further breaks down the details of its sustainability.
MIgardener Heirloom French Breakfast Radish Seeds — Value $0.99
MIgardener Heirloom Red Giant Mustard Seeds — Value $0.99
MIgardener Heirloom Crystal White Wax Onion Seeds — Value $0.99
MIgardener Heirloom White Icicle Radish Seeds — Value $0.99
MIgardener Heirloom Cimmaron Lettuce Seeds — Value $0.99
Here are the 5 MIgardener seed packets that came in my September box. I love radishes, but I've never grown them despite the veggie apparently being really easy to cultivate, so I'm looking forward to exploring these two varieties. The onions included are reportedly good for pickling, which I recently tried with asparagus and eggplant for the first time, so I'm crossing my fingers that soon I'll have successfully grown onions to add to the mix. Finally, leafy greens are one thing I have grown with confidence in the past (I've been enjoying salads made with my Fall PlowBox spoils lately!), partly because you can eat them at any point in their maturity, so even if the finicky Western Pennsylvania weather doesn't cooperate long enough into the fall for me to grow my greens big and strong, they won't go to waste.
My first thought upon seeing the washed out images on the front of each packet was that they look like they were dug up from the archives of some forgotten supply, but that must just be a design choice (perhaps related to the fact that the seeds are heirloom?) because they are indeed packed for 2017. You can see confirmation of this in the below photo, at the bottom of the seed packet.
This is what the back of all the included seed packets look like. I'm a fan of the yellow chart, as it makes planting and growing easy to plan! It's also cool that the care and harvesting notes go into detail so that first-time planters of each veggie have a little guidance.
Winner Outfitters 5 Gallon Grow Bag — Value $2.33 (Buy a 6-pack for $13.99)
I wasn't sure what to make of this felt planter when I first unwrapped it from its pretty little twine presentation—I couldn't quite picture how to use it. Turns out there's nothing to it; it serves the same function as any other type of planter you might use to grow veggies, the only difference being that it's lighter and easier to move thanks to its handles. Once I realized all that, I started to really dig it!
Here's my grow bag in action. I have it sitting next to my garden bed in the backyard. The BasilBox info card recommended planting one veggie's seeds in this fabric pot and the others in a garden bed, so that's exactly what I did! (I skipped germinating them in smaller pots, indoors, this time around.) In my felt pot are my French Breakfast Radish seeds divided up into 9 little clusters (a few strays got scattered). It rained overnight and by the next morning, a some of the seeds were already starting to germinate. Talk about instant gratification!
MIgardener 4″ White Plant labels (10 ct.) — Value $0.75
Here's the collection of 10 plant labels. I lined them up on the bottom of the shipping box so they'd be easier to see. They're made of a thin, flexible plastic with a point that makes 'em easy to insert into the soil.
The plastic is matte and not glossy, so technically you could write on these labels with a ballpoint pen, but I decided to use a permanent marker so they'd be easier to read.
Soil Moist Granules, 3 oz — Value $5.82
Here's another very retro-looking garden product! The concept of these water-storing granules is that they absorb water sort of like a sponge and slowly release it into the soil so that you can go longer between waterings. I'll admit I became skeptical the moment I checked out the ingredients listed: Crosslinked Polyacrylamide and "Inert Ingredients." Yikes! So, basically, it's a mix of chemicals and "don't worry about it." That doesn't sit well with me. I did a quick internet search for Crosslinked Polyacrylamide and found that polyacrylamide is "relatively non-toxic," but that concerns have been raised that it might contaminate food with acrylamide. Not sure what acrylamide is, but that's all the more reason why I don't want it contaminating my food!
I wanted to know more about this product before passing judgment, so I flipped it over to see how the company suggests using the granules. The directions, which you can peep in the image above, use language that's a little over my head. Phrases such as "balance with backfill" and "do not amend the top two inches" and "rootballs" may make sense to a more experienced gardener, but I sure as heck have no idea what they're telling me to do!
When taken out of their bag, the granules are jagged white little crystals, almost like rock salt. Ultimately, I decided against using these guys in my vegetable garden. Anyway, I collect rainwater in a rain barrel to use for my plants, so keeping them hydrated doesn't affect my water bill. Perhaps I'll revisit these granules if I decide to plant a flower garden next season!
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Daily Bar Soap, Basil Scent —Value $3.99
I'm so, so pleased that this soap was included in September's BasilBox! I think I've tried every single one of this company's scents and I love them all. They get an A+ for using natural ingredients and having great branding. I typically keep liquid hand soap at all my sinks for hand-washing, but I use bar soap in the shower. This is next in line as soon as my current bar is gone!
Verdict: I'm generally very happy with my first BasilBox! The seeds are great for all experience levels and are all veggies I look forward to eating, the gardening supplies are really unique, and the soap is, of course, a product about which I'm excited. While I'm not as amped about the Soil Moist granules as I am about the other goodies, I can see them being of great use to someone who has a bit of a different garden setup than I do. This box is priced at $30, but its $10 shipping adds a significant cost. The contents of the box added up to under $20, and while I believe there is value to sourcing uncommon and useful gardening products, that value doesn't quite cut it for me. I would like to see BasilBox include another small product or two in this subscription so that customers are receiving at least as much as they paid for.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, your subscription will start with the October box.
What are your thoughts on the BasilBox offerings?