One of our goals at EarthBox® is to make gardening easy, successful, and fun for people of all ages. We want to inspire home gardeners, and empower them to grow their own food and try something new or different.
In our new series "Get to Know a Grower (GTKAG)," we are sharing the experiences of some of our most passionate and unique EarthBox® growers. We are kicking off GTKAG with Chris Campbell, a self-made pitmaster who realized meat doesn't always have to be the focus of good barbecue.
Chris Campbell, Campbell's BBQ Co.
Location: Augusta, GA – USDA Zone 8a
What is Campbell's BBQ Co.? Campbell's BBQ Co. is a catering and pitmaster-for-hire BBQ company that takes pride in cooking with a "farm-to-table" tradition and using the freshest ingredients to create handmade masterpieces. Campbell's BBQ Co. isn't just about the meat...we also create Southern sides and delicious desserts. Campbell's BBQ Co. was founded in 2016.
Tell us about yourself: I’m a federal agent by day and BBQ pitmaster by night (and weekends). I turned my hobby of BBQ into a successful and nationally recognized BBQ business—Campbell’s BBQ Co., a fusion of Georgia BBQ and Texas BBQ. I was raised on Georgia BBQ, and moved to Texas in 2010. I spent two years learning Texas BBQ, before going back to Georgia, where I currently reside.
Thanks to a culinary partnership with EarthBox®, I am able to use the farm-to-table concept by growing most of what I cook right in the backyard and create garden-fresh sides and desserts that pair perfectly with my smoked meats.
I started sharing my cooking on Instagram and have now become a self-taught Instagram BBQ/Grilling Influencer, reaching over 32K people all over the world.
How did you become an EarthBox® gardener?
I bought my first EarthBox® systems in 2010 when I was stationed in Texas and grew a box of tomatoes and a box of squash...I have been hooked on the EarthBox® ever since! I have expanded my garden over the years and I am now up to 10 EarthBox® gardening systems, and plan my garden around what I like to cook. I love to spend time outdoors, and working with the EarthBox® provides a much needed relaxing escape from my multiple jobs and busy life.
What makes your EarthBox® garden unique?
In the beginning of my growing season, I spend a lot of time planning what I’m going to plant. I always plant tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers; and I also like to experiment with something new each season. Last year, I grew a box full of Peri-Peri peppers and loved them. This season, I’m experimenting with two boxes of Silver Queen corn.
While harvesting from the garden, I let the EarthBox® dictate what is on my menu for the week. For example: last week, I missed a hidden zucchini and picked it when it was huge—I used it that night in combination with some of my just-picked eggplant, and green bell peppers to make a nice vegetable lasagna. And last night, I picked a perfect Black Beauty eggplant and will be making a fresh eggplant parmesan this week.
How many EarthBox® gardening systems do you own?
- EarthBox® Original: 10, Terracotta
- EarthBox® Junior: 2, Terracotta
What are your Top 3 favorite crops to grow in the EarthBox®?
1. Tomatoes – I like the heirloom dark tomato varieties best for the taste.
2. Peppers – I use a lot of jalapeños and other hot peppers in my cooking, and the EarthBox® keeps me well supplied!
3. Okra – a Southern favorite that pairs perfectly with BBQ when it’s fried.
What is your favorite EarthBox® add-on?
The Staking System is my favorite accessory. My garden is on concrete, and there is not a great way to build my own trellis system. In my opinion, the Staking System is a must-have for climbing plants, and also plants with heavy or abundant fruit.
What advice do you have for someone who is new to EarthBox® gardening?
To be patient with the garden and understand that every season is different for factors that can be out of your control. The EarthBox® will eliminate many of the problems gardeners face, but Mother Nature will still throw in a twist every now and then. Also, be willing to experiment with fruits or vegetables that are out of the ordinary!
What underrated fruit or vegetable do you love, both growing and eating, that others should try?
This is my first year growing corn, and it is growing very well. I think a lot of gardeners shy away from corn because they don’t think it will grow adequately in an EarthBox®—but I have 32 stalks of corn spread over two boxes, that are almost six feet tall. All of the stalks are loaded with multiple ears of corn! Fresh corn is also hard to beat, as it can be harvested at peak freshness before the sugar begins to turn to starch.
Campbell's BBQ Co. Signature Tomato Pie Recipe
You will need:
- Preheat oven to 350°. Slice tomatoes into about ¼ inch-thick slices.
- Arrange tomato slices on several layers of paper towels over a wire rack and sprinkle with salt to drain the water; let the tomatoes drain for about 1 hour.
- Combine Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, basil, parsley, pepper, bacon crumbles, and onion in a medium bowl and stir well.
- Wipe and dry the tomatoes thoroughly.
- Place the tomatoes in the bottom on the pie crust and top with the cheese mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
Connect with Campbell's BBQ Co.
Do you have a unique EarthBox® garden, or inspiring story to share?
Share your experiences in the comment section, below!