- What Are Grow Bags?
- The Pros and Cons of Cloth Grow Bags
- Cloth Grow Bags 101
- Woven vs. Non-woven
- Landscaping Fabric as Garden Container
- The Pros
- The Cons
- Water Management
- Selecting the Bags
- Care of the Bags
- Growing in a Cloth Bag
- A Down-to-Earth (Raised) Garden
- Discover Grow Bags: An Alternative Plant Container
- Will Using Grow Bags Make Gardening Easier?
- History Of Grow Bags
- How To Use Grow Bags
- Why Use Grow Bags?
- Economic Value Of Using Grow Bags
- Types Of Grow Bags
- Sizes Of Grow Bags
- 3 Grow Bag Choices
- Grow Bags Fabric Planter Raised Bed Aeration Container 5 Pack Black (5 Gallon With Handles)
- Grow Bags Square Foot Fabric Planter Raised Bed Aeration Container (Pack Of 4)
- Why grow in grow bags
- Soil for grow bags
- Fertilizing grow bags
- Sign-up today!
- 29 Nov Using Fabric Grow Bags For Container Gardening
- Global Buckets
- Tater Totes: DIY fabric pots for potatoes & other plants
- How to Plant Vegetables in Plastic Bag Containers
What Are Grow Bags?
Actually, there are many good reasons to use a grow bag instead of a pot. Here are some of them.
In a pot, the roots of a plant tend to grow in entangled and entwined circles. This increases the likelihood of having air or water stagnation problems, especially if the pot doesn’t have proper drainage or is a large size. When the roots reach the edge of a plastic pot, they continue growing in search of more water and nutrients. This causes them to begin encircling the pot and is what gardeners refer to as being root-bound or pot-bound. The process of structurally damaging the plant has now begun. The roots become constricted which leads to less water and nutrient uptake. The stem of the plant will also become compressed leading to tissue damage which further restricts uptake of vital nutrients. Over time, plant growth gradually becomes stunted. To avoid disappointment, don’t buy pot-bound plants.
Grow bags are made of various types of flexible materials that can help prevent this problem. Root damage occurs when roots come in contact with the edges of a pot and sense drier soil that is exposed to the air. At this point, they know they have reached their growth limit. This air-pruning happens naturally when roots are exposed to air in the absence of high humidity. In effect, the roots are burned off causing the plant to constantly produce new and healthier branching roots. If roots are not exposed to air, they continue to grow around the container in a constricted pattern. Air-pruning is a very necessary process in order to grow a healthy plant in a container. This prevents over-growth of roots and eliminates girdling roots that will damage the structure of the plant. You will notice many more fibrous roots where air-pruning has occurred. A more fibrous root system has many small root tips that allow the plant to take in more nutrients and water. Plants in plastic pots encourage only a few large roots to dominate and encircle the pot which subsequently constricts nutrient uptake.
Since grow bags are porous, they will require more frequent watering. However, it is harder to over-water them because any excess moisture will be wicked out of the bag. When you over-water a plant in a traditional pot, it’s possible to actually drown the plant and will also promote the development of mold or fungus in the container. This results in unsightly and misshapen leaves and fruit. It is also likely to result in the eventual death of the plant.
During the heat of summer, plastic pots located in direct sunlight may become quite hot. Since they are not made of a breathable material, they trap all that heat inside which then cooks the plant’s roots. Because of their breathable quality, grow bags regulate the inside temperature. Excess heat is able to escape from all sides of the bag.
Pots must be stored somewhere when not in use. But where do you put them? Do they become an unsightly pile on your porch or deck or perhaps they’re stuck back in a corner of the yard or cluttering your garage? Most pots eventually end up stacked on top of each other to be reused and can easily be broken or crushed over the winter months. Traditional pots need to be stacked for storage; grow bags can be easily folded flat and stored in minimal space.
INSTEAD OF THIS
Grow bags are lightweight and usually come with attached handles that make them easy to move around to different locations in the yard or garden. They’ve also become popular with people who live or travel frequently in an RV because they take up such a small amount of storage space and the plants are easy to move from the inside to the outside. Since fabric grow bags are biodegradable, they can even be planted directly in the ground.
If you want to grow individual plants or small bunches of herbs and flowers, try a 5 gallon grow bag. They’re excellent for tomatoes, peppers, flowers, herbs, potatoes, and many other plants. If you want a larger planting area or something that resembles a raised bed, purchase the 100 gallon grow bags. This will give you room in a single bag for a number of plants or even a small tree.
Advantages of a grow bag:
- A healthier root system that encourages root pruning rather than root circling,
- Temperature control that sheds excess heat through the breathable fabric,
- Prevents over-watering since excess water percolates out through the fabric material,
- Can be folded flat and stored in a small space,
- Can be easily moved and even planted directly into the ground.
The Pros and Cons of Cloth Grow Bags
Lightweight portability, small-space friendly, raised bed alternative: three reasons to try cloth grow bags. Many people are turning to these fabric containers for use as raised bed planters. It is essentially a form of container gardening where the emphasis is on the container, not what goes in it.
People can get pretty creative with planters; we’ve seen drawers, pots, and even boots used. While those may have their artistic merit, there are a number of benefits to using cloth grow bags, despite their utilitarian appearance. In this article, we’ll look at the what, why, and how of cloth grow bags.
Cloth Grow Bags 101
The bags are generally round in shape and come in varying sizes, usually from 5 to 50 gallons. But they can be shallow and wide, tall and deep, or rectangular in shape.
SOURCE: Wayside Gardens
Some are decorated with stripes, belts, or zippers but most are plain and simple. Colors are generally limited to black, brown, tan, green or blue.
Woven vs. Non-woven
Burlap: The Woven
Burlap is traditionally made from jute, hemp, or flax plants and can have a coarse or fine weave. It’s used for clothing, rug backing, storage, and homeware. Of course, you can now find burlap made from synthetic materials, too.
Felt: The Non-Woven
A fabric whose history stretches back into ancient times, felt is traditionally made from wool or fur. Fibers are broken up so they blend into each other, forming a dense, durable layer of material. If you want to be a Super DIYer, you can start your cloth bag garden by making your own felt and then making your own bags.
Or just shop Amazon.
Landscaping Fabric as Garden Container
Sure, you could use landscaping fabric as some sites suggest, but consider that it’s commonly made from polypropylene, a commonly found polymer to which some people are allergic. The material is treated with chemicals to prevent weed growth and may also be treated with a UV protector to slow the evaporation process. What’s in the container goes into the soil, goes into the food.
If you’re fine with that, check out the vid tutorial from Grow Your Heirlooms to make your own grow bags from landscaping fabric.
If you’re not okay with that, you’ll look for the phrase “non-woven fabric” in your search and then look closer still to see what that fabric is. But, you may ask, why would I want floppy fabric containers for my garden?
Actually, the bags hold their shape nicely once filled with soil. But, you may ask, why use a cloth bag instead of a nice ceramic, wood, or plastic container? Every gardening method has its good points and its challenges that may require creative thinking. Cloth bags have more of the former.
Roots grow properly
When a root grows out to the wall of a traditional container, it curves back in the other direction, looking for more space. The roots keep growing, following the borders of the container. Without intervention, the plant ends up sitting on a nest of tangled roots. The result is stunted growth and probably the early demise of the plant. None of that here!
In a cloth grow bag, when a root reaches the wall of its confinement, it’s exposed to air which burns it off. This causes the plant to send out new feeder roots that branch out to gather more nutrients and water. The result is a big healthy and happy plant.
The millions of teeny holes in the material prevents overwatering plants since the water quickly evaporates.
The cloth slows but doesn’t keep air from getting into the soil, in this way the roots don’t suffocate and mildew won’t grow.
Healthy soil microbes
Increased airflow from a nearly 360° radius means healthier little organisms contentedly doing their plant-building thing in the soil.
It’s Not Plastic
Another way to eliminate plastic from your living and growing space. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the many chemicals found in plastic. When found to wreak havoc with the hormone system, manufacturers were quick to reconfigure their formulas so they could loudly proclaim that their products are BPA free.
Unfortunately, BPA’s relatives – BPB, BPF, and BPS – have been found to have the same estrogenic effect in laboratory studies as BPA. Products that are BPA-free often contain BPB, -F, and -S.
Estrogenic effect means the body responds to the chemical as if it were the hormone estrogen, affecting not just the reproductive system but also the heart, brain, hair, skin, muscles, and other body systems. The results are a slew of undesirable conditions.
If you’re not ready to go as plastic-free as is reasonably possible in our plastic-heavy society, LiveStrong has a great article on which plastics are which.
Cloth Bags Are Reusable
When you’ve transplanted your seedlings or harvested your crop, the bag can be emptied, (air) dried, and any excess dirt brushed or beaten out. They can then be sterilized, rinsed very well, and thoroughly dried before being put back into service.
If you’re only interested in growing plants during a part of the year, cloth bags can be folded compactly and stored out of the way on a shelf, bin, or drawer.
Of course you could go the ceramic, metal, or wood route, each with their respective pluses and minuses. They are also reusable. But they can be heavy, you’re moving their weight along with the soil and plant. Cloth bags can be easily moved from one location to another. And most have handles, making it super easy to move them as needed.
Huge Time and Energy Saver
No tilling, digging, aerating, or other soil preparation is needed. Planting is a breeze!
Indeed, many are the reasons to grow your container garden in cloth bags. But read on for a few challenges to this method.
Garden Divided Raised Vegetable Bed
… are relatively few and most come with sensibly easy remedies.
Soil Dries Out Quickly
With all that air flowing in and around the plant, naturally the rate of evaporation will be greater than if the plant is sitting in a ceramic or plastic container.
Self-watering systems are an obvious fix for the increased watering demand. Self waters can be as simple as an upended bottle with a perforated stake or a more involved drip irrigation system.
Wicking is another labor-freeing route. Place the bags in a large, shallow container of water; no more than 1 – 2 inches deep. The folks at Northern Homestead favor using a kiddie pool, others use plastic storage bins.
Someone suggested using Styrofoam crates; the material is banned in my County and there are proposals to take the ban statewide in Maryland.
Mulch added to the top of the grow bag helps the soil hold onto its water.
Soil should include moisture-preserving compounds like compost, vermiculite, and moss in the soil.
Can’t Get a Good Soak
Soil in a porous container is not going to hold a large amount of water for any length of time. It’s that evaporation thing again. There is a simple alternative to regularly hauling out buckets of water or the hose:
The hydroponic ebb-and-flow method is a balanced way of keeping roots and soil watered to the right degree.
Whatever watering method you use, you’ll need to monitor the water level throughout the week. Besides ensuring the proper supply of water, in the summer months you’ll also want to ensure that the water doesn’t become a mosquito nursery.
Keeping Water Mosquito-Free
As discussed in Chapter 5 of the Basement Garden series, companion planting is a traditional pest repellent practice. But researchers in India found that components in basil (Ocimum basilicum) are toxic to mosquito eggs.
Online are a lot of lists of mosquito-repellant plants (actually it’s pretty much the same list, repeated across many sites). But the articles are mostly geared towards keeping people and pets bite-free. Mosquitos will steer clear of strong scents like cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, and thyme. So the prevailing wisdom is to crush leaves or flowers and apply directly to skin. Keeping the water of a garden container bug-free has its own considerations.
Food Plant v Decorative Plant
You may come across comments in product Q&As where people report using things like Mosquito Dunks® in their lily pond without any bad effect on the plant. In fact, many mosquito repellent products say they are safe to use around children and pets.
Mosquito Dunks® contain naturally occurring Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis. The Summit brand of dunks were approved by the National Organic Program for use with organic plants.
Does this mean dunks are safe for food-growing use?
Probably not. The NOP, run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulates the organic growing process. It does not address food safety so it may be the prudent course to leave the dunks for non-food water bodies.
You could always apply a repellent like Mosquito Beater pellets around the outside of the water holder. It contains the essential oils of many of the plants listed above, along with heavy-hitters (smellers?) like citronella, cedar, geranium, and garlic. Sprinkle around pools, camps, or any outdoor space to discourage mosquitos.
Selecting the Bags
While some gardeners will cheerfully use cloth bags from any source, more cautious shoppers will consider the material and manufacturing. As with any type of container gardening, consider a few questions to ask:
- Is the bag treated with an anti-stain or water repellant formula?
- Is the bag dyed with food-friendly paints or inks?
- What did the (repurposed) bags contain?
- Exactly what are the recycled materials used to make this bag?
- Am I sure I can sterilize the bag sufficiently to use with food?
Care of the Bags
You’ll want to empty the bags regularly to freshen the soil and inspect the bag for mildew, mites, and wear. With proper care, they should take you through many years of harvests.
Between use, they should be cleaned thoroughly. One gardening website suggested beating off excess dirt before tossing the bags into machines at a laundromat if you have more than one or two to wash. The potential of damaging a public resource doesn’t sound nice. To me. Get your exercise in, sterilize and wash your bags manually. Or use your own washer.
Growing in a Cloth Bag
- Select a location – will it be on the ground, in a container, suspended, or on a stand?
- Place soil into the bag.
- Add plant or seeds.
A Down-to-Earth (Raised) Garden
Using cloth grow bags offers convenience in gardening, sparing your back and knees from digging and mussing with large plots of land. They offer an easy do-over if you happen to change your mind about where you want your garden situated. With a traditional garden , you can’t undig up the ground (yes, I know it’s not a real word).
Carry your garden in for the winter and back out for the spring. Raised garden, container garden, vertical garden – cloth grow bags will enhance whichever garden you choose to grow. Are you a cloth grow bag fan? Perhaps in the near future?
Discover Grow Bags: An Alternative Plant Container
If, like me, you resort to using containers to grow some of your plants, try using a grow bag this year. They have some advantages over plastic pots or terra cotta. I was especially interested to learn about “air pruning.”
Grow bags aren’t a new idea. In ancient times, plants were grown in woven baskets and bags. Ancient Egyptians would weave plant baskets and the Greeks used woven containers on their rooftop gardens because they could be easily moved.
Many British gardeners have long grow bags as an alternative to planting directly into greenhouse soil.
Today, they are still ideal for growing plants in the greenhouse, but there has been growing interest in using them as an alternative container.
Grow bags are are especially helpful and affordable for growing plants on patios and balconies!
Why Use a Plant Grow Bag?
Pots are heavy and difficult to move. Grow bags are lightweight. If you are growing on your balcony or anywhere weight is an issue or will need to move the containers during the growing season, fabric pots weigh practically nothing. It is only the weight of the soil that you have to deal with.
They are breathable and drain well. Unlike plastic, the fabric allows air to reach plant roots so the soil won’t get soggy. It is hard to overwater them.
They prevent plants from becoming rootbound. When a root reaches the side of the container it comes in contact with drier soil and more air. Instead of circling the pot and eventually strangling the plant, that root stops growing. Called “air pruning,” this encourages the plant to make new roots giving it a robust root system with many small root tips that can take in water and nutrients instead of a few long roots choking it. The plant can put more energy into top growth as well. Many growers swear that the plants in the grow bags do much better than those in plastic pots.
Soil is cooler in summer. Black plastic pots heat up in the summer sun. Since the bags can breathe, heat can escape. The felt-like fabric is more insulating than plastic so the soil stays a bit warmer when the weather cools down.
Best Plant for Grow Bags
Grow bags are best for vegetables that do not have deep roots. My favorites include:
- Sweet peppers
- Chili peppers
- Zucchini and summer squash
- Salad greens (lettuce, endive, rocket)
- Basil and some herbs
You’ll plant 2 to 3 plants in a bag in the spring. For salad greens it’s best to cut across the width of the bag and sow in rows.
See our Almanac Grow Guides for information on planting all of the above vegetables.
Choosing a Grow Bag
Be mindful when shopping online for grow bags that all bags are not the same. There are some really cheap ones that are just heavy-duty, black plastic bags—like a contractor’s trash bag. They might be cheap but they offer none of the advantages of a fabric grow bag. Plastic bags do not water well; they retain water and heat which is bad for the soil!
A good grow bag is are constructed from a polypropylene felt-like fabric which is breathable and allows the air pruning. The fabric must be BPA-free and food-safe.
Here are some examples of quality grow bags. (We do not get any payment from Gardener’s Supply Company. We just like their grow bags!)
Gardeners.com Tomato Grow Bags
Gardeners.com Potato Grow Bag
There are many sizes to choose from ranging from small seedling bags to 1,000 gallon raised garden beds. There are specialty grow bags like the 15 gallon potato bag that has a flap near the bottom so you can easily harvest new potatoes without disturbing the whole plant. There are tall skinny ones made for growing trees. You can get square ones to make an instant planting bed. A 4’X4’ square 12 inches deep holds 16 cu ft. or 120 gallons of soil. There are small ones, 4”X5”, with Velcro closures to make removing seedlings for transplanting easier.
I bought 2 at my local hardware store a few years ago just to try them out and use them every summer to hold extra plants. One year it was sweet potatoes, then pepperoncini, and last year tomatoes.
- All the plants grew just fine though the sweet potatoes could have used a bigger bag. Many of them grew in an L-shape, like they hit the side of the bag and took a right angle turn.
- The compost in the bag shouldn’t get too compact; keep it loose by shaking and kneading it like a pillow.
- Keep in mind that the top of each root ball should be just below the top of the bag.
- Water well and label. Keep the compost moist and feed plants such as aubergine, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers with a high potash fertilizer when flowers appear.
- Since grow bags are so porous and drain fast, they do need more frequent watering than a plastic container. If you use them indoors be sure to put them on a large saucer to contain any leakage.
- Taller plants (such as tomatoes) need support. Place a cane into the bag and tie the plant to the cane and attach the cane to a frame.
- The good bags last! Many of the bag manufacturers say they last 3 to 4 years but mine are still like new after 3 growing seasons. I dump the soil into my compost pile in the fall, let the bags dry, and fold them up to store inside over the winter. They are pretty rugged and when they aren’t holding a plant they can be used for lugging wood, hauling compost or mulch, or as a harvest basket.
Handy folks can try making their own grow bags from heavy-duty landscape fabric. Be sure to use nylon thread instead of cotton which will deteriorate fast causing your bag to fall apart.
Got a balcony, patio, or rooftop garden? Seee more about growing plants on a sunny patio or balcony!
Will Using Grow Bags Make Gardening Easier?
History Of Grow Bags
During the 1970s, grow bags took the gardening world by storm. These bags were invented in order to solve a single problem. People who liked to grow tomatoes were tired of having to replace the soil around their greenhouse borders each year.
To many people this may seem like it is not a big deal. However, at that time many avid gardeners had greenhouses and they typically grew tomatoes. Since you had to grow your plants in the same space each year, diseases and root pests would build up and each year your tomato plants would not do as well.
This is when the grow bag was first introduced. Each spring you could place your tomato plants into the root pouch. The roots of the plants no longer could get to the soil that was infected. Each year simply restock your greenhouse with a new set of tomato grow bags. No digging is necessary.
The bags were cheap to use and provided superior crops. Sales of grow bags skyrocketed during this time. What stopped the popularity of grow bags was the Hurricane in 1987. Most of the nation’s greenhouses were destroyed during this time and during the cleanup process most were not replaced.
Currently, the grow your own food craze has given growing bag systems a new found popularity. These grow bags have a great potential when it comes to creating mini veg patches on properties where space is an issue.
Grow bags offer the perfect solution for growing your own food. With more and more people looking to create a healthier lifestyle, it is important to know where your food is coming from.
How To Use Grow Bags
Grow bags work really well with tomato plants, after all this is what they were designed for. However, it is possible to grow all sorts of things in a grow bag.
The compost that is used in grow bags is specially designed to work without any type of drainage holes for the bottom. Simply plant your vegetables like you normally would in regular soil. Some vegetables that do well in grow bags besides tomatoes are, lettuce, kohlrabi, courgettes, and french or green beans.
Short root crops such as potatoes, radishes, stump rooted carrots, and spring onions do well in garden grow bags as well. You can also create an herb garden using a grow bag. If you are not into growing vegetables and herbs, you can also use grow bags for flowers.
Each grow bag should be treated like a large container. You can place several grow bags in a row in order to create the effect of a continuous garden bed or flower garden. Growing flowers or vegetables in a growing bag is not much different than growing them in other container types. You do need to keep in mind that there are no drainage holes, so be careful with watering or you could end up with a mushy mess.
When you first plant your garden in your fabric grow bags you will want to water them sparingly. As your plants start to grow you will need to provide them with more water, especially if the weather is fairly hot and sunny. If you let your tomato plants dry out the tomatoes may start to show signs of end rot.
On the same note, if you are having a rainy summer it is important to make sure that your grow bags are draining properly. Proper drainage is important because if the soil becomes too wet your plants can get root rot. When this develops in your plant it will stop producing fruit and becomes relatively useless.
It is also important to feed your plants regularly. Since a growing bag only holds a small amount of compost, when the plants have used up these original nutrients they will need more. Giving your plants a general purpose feed like phostrogen weekly will help provide them with the nutrients they need to grow.
If you use the right type of grow bag combined with the right type of soil, you will quickly discover that your plants will grow at a fairly fast rate. Grow bags promote growth and production.
Why Use Grow Bags?
There are several distinct advantages of using grow bags over other types of growing methods. A plant that is grown in a plastic pot will become root bound as the roots will simply circle around the pot. A plant that is grown in a grow bag will receive oxygen through the walls of the pot.
This is important as a plant that has access to more oxygen will grow roots that are stronger and more fibrous. Plants that have a larger mass will have more surface area to absorb the water and minerals that it needs in order to grow.
Grow bags also let water out, which prevents issues with overwatering. These are just some of the reasons that many hydroponic farms and commercial nurseries have started to use grow bags more and more.
However, the real reason that you should consider using grow bags for your garden is quite simple, they work. Grow bags are perfect for growing vegetables and fruits, and even flowers. You can quickly set them up and place them just about anywhere, from in your yard to on your patio or deck. They are even great for people who live in apartments and have a balcony.
One of the biggest problems people have when they are starting a garden in their yard is aerating the ground in their yard to create a suitable growing environment. Planter bags take away this frustration as you will simply add soil to the bag and then plant your seeds. No digging is necessary.
The soil found in most back yards is simply not suitable for growing plants. The grow bag will solve this problem as you can choose the type of soil that you use. In addition, when you are not using the grow bags they can be rolled up and put away.
Some people think that they can use any type of pot to grow their vegetables in. However, this is not the case. Grow bags are designed with production and growth in mind, which is why they are breathable and provide a way for the soil to drain. This is different than growing plants in a commercial planter or other type of hard pot as these do not allow proper aeration and because of this it is difficult for the roots of the plant to become stronger.
Economic Value Of Using Grow Bags
Grow bags are more economical than you may think. Once you have used the grow bag for your spring crops you can remove the remains of the spring plants and there will be enough compost left to grow some of your favorite autumn crops such as spinach and other lettuces.
When you have cut your fall crops you can use what is left of the compost as a spread on your garden between perennials and shrubs or brush it onto your lawn as a fertilizer of sorts.
In addition, there are grow bags available that are reusable. You simply empty them out at the end of the season, clean them, and then store them until you are ready to use them again in the spring.
Types Of Grow Bags
When you are planning to use grow bags for your garden it is important to know that there are different types of grow bags available that work well with different crops. While almost every type of grow bag will work well with tomato plants and other similar style plants, there are some grow bags that are specified for certain crops. There are also grow bags made from different materials.
Grow bags also come in many different sizes. The size that you choose will depend on the type of crop that you plan on growing as well as how much space that you have.
Potato Grow Bags
Potatoes are a favorite food among many and they are inexpensive and rather easy to grow. However, the problem with growing potatoes is that they take a lot of space as “hilling” is the best method to get your potatoes to grow.
Potato grow bags are great for growing potatoes as it provides the tall amount of dirt needed for the roots to spread out and it keeps all of the potatoes in one place. Using a potato grow bag will allow you to control the area that the potatoes grow in.
While potatoes can be grown in any type of grow bag, there are several specialty potato grow bags that make the process simpler. These special bags have doors that open on the side so that you can easily reach in and grab the potatoes when they are ready for picking.
Mushroom Grow Bags
Growing mushrooms can be a fun project for the family. One of the best ways to grow mushrooms is by using grow bags. These speciality grow bags are simple to use and many have an injector port that can be used in order to add grain and other nutrients that your mushrooms need in order to grow.
There are different types of materials that these grow bags are made from that make them better for growing mushrooms than other vegetables. However, you can grow mushrooms in any type of grow bag on the market.
Sizes Of Grow Bags
There are many different sizes of grow bags available. You can choose the size of grow bag based on your particular gardening needs. Sizes range from as small as 5 gallons up to larger 150 gallon bags.
The size of grow bag that you need will really depend on what you are planning to grow. A larger 100 or 150 gallon grow bag is great for a nice flower bed. It can also be used to plant several of the same type of plant together.
Lining up smaller grow bags is another option. This will provide you with separate soil for each of your plants, but will still give you the look and feel of having a regular garden. Below you will find more information about several types and sizes of grow bags available.
3 Grow Bag Choices
Here are our top 3 grow bag choices!
Grow Bags Fabric Planter 150 Or 100 Gallon Raised Bed Aeration Container.
- Size: 100 or 150 Gallon
- Raised bed
- Easy to set up
- Washable for future use
- Functional and stylish
- Easy to set up
- Promotes aeration, which promotes plant growth
- Excellent drainage
- Great for vegetables such as peppers, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. can also be used for flowers or herbs
If you are looking for a way to have a garden and do not have a lot of space or if the soil in your area is not ideal for growing healthy plants, a large 100 or 150 grow bag is a great alternative.
This grow bag allows oxygen to get through the walls of the pot, unlike some of the other hard pots that are often used to grow plants. Extra oxygen helps the roots of the plants grow stronger and more fibrous. An increase in root mass increases the surface area that is used to absorb minerals and water, which results in plants that grow faster and are much healthier.
Additionally, this large grow bag will also let water drain out, which prevents the soil from becoming mushy. Overwatering can also cause root rot and other damage to your plants.
Overall, this large 100 or 150 gallon grow bag will work great for even the beginning gardener. It allows you to plant a small vegetable garden or flower garden in a small amount of space. The design is not only functional, but is stylish as well. In addition, this grow bag can be washed and used year after year unlike some of the other grow bags on the market.
Grow Bags Fabric Planter Raised Bed Aeration Container 5 Pack Black (5 Gallon With Handles)
- Size: 5 gallon
- With or without handles
- Pack of 5
- Made from premium felt like handle
- Color: black
- Promotes vigorous plant growth
- Excellent drainage system
- Perfect for all types of vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc.
- Can be used for herbs or flowers
When considering grow bags for your gardening needs there are several features to consider. Some grow bags are made out of non-porous materials, which makes aeration difficult. This set of 5 gallon grow bags will provide you with room enough to plant several different types of plants and know that they are all getting the oxygen they need in order to stay healthy and strong.
Another problem with some types of grow bags is that they do not allow proper drainage to occur. This set of grow bags has a drainage system in place so that your plants do not suffer from overwatering, which can lead to many different types of problems including root rot.
All 5 of these grow bags can be washed and reused year after year. Simply remove the plants and soil, clean out the container and you are ready to start your garden again next spring.
For those who are looking for a simpler way to garden without having to worry about tilling up soil and having enough room, grow bags are a perfect choice. These bags can be set up anywhere that you have the space. One nice feature of this particular grow bag is the handles that are on the sides as these allow the bags to easily be moved from one place to another.
Not only is this set of 5 grow bags reusable, they are also completely functional and stylish. The all black fabric is sturdy enough to hold up to 5 gallons of dirt, which is a good amount for growing almost any type of vegetable, herb, or flower that you have in mind.
Grow Bags Square Foot Fabric Planter Raised Bed Aeration Container (Pack Of 4)
- 4 pack of felt like fabric pots
- Square foot
- Easy to use
- Promotes aeration
- Promotes healthy plant growth
This four pack of square foot grow bags is the perfect choice for those who have small spaces, but still want to grow their own herbs, vegetables, and fruits. These pots are made from a felt like fabric that is both functional and stylish.
The pots can quickly be set up anywhere that you would like. They can also be easily moved into different spots if desired. In addition, these four pots are reusable. Simply wash them out, fold them up and put them away until you need to use them again.
These are a smaller size grow bag, which means that you will only be able to plant one plant inside of them. They are ideal for pepper and tomato plants as they will allow these plants to get the oxygen and water that they need to grow tall and produce large amounts of vegetables for you to enjoy.
Smaller grow bags such as this are also perfect flower planters and make great herb gardens. Simply fill with dirt and plant your favorite flowers or herbs and they will grow to be healthy and vibrant.
When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables many people become frustrated with their backyard garden. The main reason for this is because most backyards are simply not suitable for growing organic plants. The soil is compact and has to be properly aerated. In addition, the soil in a backyard simply does not have the right nutrients to promote healthy growth of many vegetables.
A grow pot takes the guess work out of gardening. You will fill these bags with soil that is designed to promote the growth of fruit and vegetable or flowering plants. The entire process is quite simple and the best part is that these bags can be set up anywhere around your house. No matter how big or small your space may be, you can find a set of grow bags to use that will work for your needs.
Grow bags come in many shapes and sizes and can be used to grow just about anything that you desire. If you have been thinking about starting a garden, consider using grow bags as they are going to give you good results from the start. As long as you are attentive and water your plants regularly, you will be amazed at how well they will grow in these stylish planter alternatives.
Our first garden was a container garden on a balcony. We had no soil, so container gardening was the way to go for us. It is fun to grow a container garden on a balcony, patio, driveway or in a greenhouse. Containers allow us to grow food without owning a spec of land. Containers are also great for indoor gardening. You can grow your own salad greens year round, or early carrots and even tomatoes.
Container gardening also presents some challenges. There are things that are true for any container garden, and there are things that are unique to grow bags. If you have the choice to grow in good soil, it is always better than any container. But if you need or want to grow in a container, a grow bag is a great option.
Why grow in grow bags
Grow bags are made of breathable fabric which means superior drainage and aeration. It is the aeration that makes them superior to other garden containers. If a container has no aeration and the roots reach the walls of the container, they give a signal to the plant to make more roots, resulting in a root bound plant. Eventually the plant just kills itself with a mass of roots going round and round in the container. Here is an end of season comparison picture. Both plants are done with growing, but one is completely dead.
Root bounding will not happen in a grow bag. Here if a root reaches the wall of the bag, it will be “burned” off, causing the plant to constantly produce new and healthy branching roots. This is also called air-pruning. This picture shows nicely how the roots did reach the wall of the bag, but did not go round at all.
Soil for grow bags
Soil is the heart of any container gardening. In the grow bags we use Mel’s Mix from the All New Square Foot Gardening book. It is a great mixture for any gardening, also container gardening. The mix is 1/3 moss, 1/3 compost mixture (for example chicken manure, horse manure, and mushroom composts), and 1/3 vermiculite. This mix preserves moisture which is very important for grow bag gardening.
We also mulch our grow bags with wood chips just like the garden. It helps to keep the soil moist on top and we find that plants just grow better with mulch even in containers.
You can reuse this soil mixture year after year. Remove the wood chips mulch, empty all the bags, add about 10-20% new compost, and mixing it well up again.
Watering grow bags
Watering is always a challenge in container gardening. To much makes the plants sit in water, too little makes them dry out. It also depends on what the container is made of. Grow bags do dry out much faster than pots. The drainage and aeration of the grow bag leads to more frequent watering needs. Also it is difficult to really soak a grow bag, the water will come right out. Two things can be helpful.
Install a drip system, so the grow bags get a constant moisture supply. We tried the bottle drip system. It did not do so well for us, even though many have great success with it. A pipe drip system would work well, too.
Self watering system
Have a container underneath the grow bag that you can fill with water so it can be wicked up. Any container would work, we got the idea from the Kiddie pool grow system. But if the container is too deep, you will need an overflow. You want most of the roots to be in air.
Here a build box out of styrofoam, it is not very deep, so an overflow is not needed. It looks like a raised bed. In this we planted cucumbers. Cucumber like water a lot.
Same idea, but boxes build out of wood and covered with plastic.
Fertilizing grow bags
Since containers do not contain much soil, heavy feeder plants need to be fertilized. Personally we prefer natural fertilizers. Bone Meal, worm casting and compost tea are all great natural fertilizers. Also Epsom Salt and eggshells can help to add minerals.
Hope we could encourage you to grow a container garden using grow bags.
Read also how to sew a grow bag, or order your Grow Bags ready made for you.
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Containers can be tricky. They’re invaluable for those who don’t have garden space or whose soil is extremely poor. Even if you have space there are areas of the country where the soil is so poor, or laden with heavy metals from historic mining or industrial use, that you wouldn’t want to eat anything grown in it. Containers are the way to go in either situation.
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Most people grab plastic or even clay pots to remedy the problem, yet they have a tendency to overheat, dry out and compress the roots, making the plants less productive. But I’m confident I found the remedy for all three issues.
Bag ’Em Up
Last year I spoke with Theresa Martz, the author of Organic Gardening: Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening, who also shares her 36 years of experience on her website called Tending My Garden (tendingmygarden.com).
In our discussions, she sent me a jaw-dropping picture of her “General Lee” cucumber growing up a trellis. I seriously had to do a double take when she told me it was grown in a Gardener’s Supply Company (gardeners.com) “Grow Bag” (also called “Smart Bags” by some companies). I couldn’t believe such an enormous plant could grow in a container of any sort. And at Gardener’s Supply Company, several styles are available including the Tomato Grow Bag Kit, Jumbo Potato Bag, The Universal Kit, the Terrace Kit and more.
Theresa had never been a container person either, but she thought it was worth giving the bags a try when a friend beat a flea beetle problem by growing his eggplants in containers roughly a foot off the ground. She started researching container options, and decided that the polypropylene fabric Grow Bags sounded like the best option.
Theresa was sold on them the first season. She had never had much luck with eggplants, but once her two plants in a single Grow Bag were established, they took off.
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“The plants got 3 feet tall, and when those big pink/purple blossoms came I was excited,” she said. One plant produced three eggplants and the other gave her nine beautiful fruits. She said the flea beetles eventually did find the plants, but they were large enough to withstand the attack. Since her initial eggplant experiment, she’s also tried cucumbers, which obviously thrive in the conditions, as well as potatoes.
Why Bags Are Fab
“Unlike a pot, a good Grow Bag releases up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit more heat than traditional plastic,” Theresa explained. “Since the container stays cooler, the roots can grow in hotter temperatures, as well as keep microorganism life alive and working inside the Grow Bag.”
This heat disbursement can’t be over emphasized. “If you have heat on your roots, you’re not going to have produce,” she said. “In order to be successful, you want the really good Grow Bags made from a two-layer, special fabric that is breathable and allows for good drainage. The roots won’t circle like they do in a pot or container. They grow all the way to the edge and are air pruned. When that happens, the roots branch, making a more extensive root system.”
Air pruning is especially important if you’re going to raise perennial crops, such as the blueberries I’m growing (since blueberries will not tolerate our alkaline soil, the only way to grow them around here is in a controlled container) because they won’t become root bound. Even tomatoes and other vigorous annual vegetables send out tremendous root growth. By using the fabric bag, you are helping create a far healthier foundation for the plant.
As for soil, Maree Gaetini, director of gardening relations and good works at Gardener’s Supply in Burlington, Vermont, recommends keeping the soil on the lighter side, just as you do in other types of containers.
Theresa, who has amended her soil for decades, uses her own mix. “I filled the bags with a mix of some decaying straw and soil that I took from the bottom of the ‘cold’ compost pile,” she said. Other times, she’s added a few scoops of her rich garden soil.
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If you don’t have compost-like garden soil at home, you can create your mix or use a good-quality soil geared towards containers. Maree said that many people use the Gardener’s Supply container mix, which is created with compost, sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite to provide good tilth and nutrients.
Bag Sizes & Shapes
One of the best features about the Grow Bags is the range of sizes. The Jumbo Grow Bag holds 120 quarts of potting soil and is 25 inches in diameter. This opens up a world of possibilities for what you can grow. Honestly, from corn to sweet potatoes, I can’t think of anything you can’t grow in one.
In each of her Grow Bags, Theresa planted two eggplants, five cucumbers and two Window-Box Roma tomatoes. These were supplements to her already extensive garden, which demonstrates how people with plenty of in-ground garden space can benefit. If you live in an apartment or have a tiny backyard, the bags can provide plenty of gardening opportunities.
To make the possibilities even more enticing, Maree introduced me to the many options now offered. If I thought the jumbo Grow Bags were fun, I was delighted to see the ones specifically for tomatoes (which are deeper to accommodate the tap root), tall ones for potatoes as well as different sizes and depths for peppers, carrots and garlic. You can certainly use the “pepper” Grow Bag for other vegetables, but it’s good to know that they have an ideal size, particularly for new gardeners.
Theresa is growing basil in one of the smaller Grow Bags in order to bring it inside at the end of the season. She sows the basil seed in it towards the end of the season. If foul weather threatens the tender plants, she moves the Grow Bag indoors. When the sun comes out and temperatures warm, she simply takes it back outside. “It’s very practical for me,” she said.
An accessory to Grow Bags that is immensely helpful, particularly to those of us who seem to do nothing but water during the summer, is the self-watering tray. It’s a plastic-bottomed reservoir that you fill with water, and a fiber mat pulls the water from the tray. It fits the “Salad Garden” Grow Bag perfectly, or you can fit two pepper bags on it (it’s an inch shy, but it definitely works). Pulling water from the roots is the ideal way to water, and the self-watering tray gives people latitude to leave for a couple of days without coming home to dehydrated vegetables.
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When using the tray, the only thing you have to do is cut a little hole where the notch is in the plastic top of the support so you can pour water into the tray. Pour enough in to soak the mat, then add more to top off the level in the tray. After three to four days, check the water level again.
For Theresa, watering the Grow Bags in her garden is not a huge issue. “I’m so used to not having to water,” she said. “I tend to forget. The only way I know to water is if the plants don’t look so hot.” During the summer, she might haul a gallon of water out a couple of times over a month if it’s excessively dry.
As far as watering goes, you don’t have to worry about oversaturating your plants as you do with plastic or clay containers. Many of us were taught to put gravel in the bottom of a container to provide drainage; in reality, we just create a dead zone for the roots and open up the possibility of rot. Grow Bags don’t do that, allowing every inch of space to be used.
As she does with any garden bed, Theresa recommends mulching around the plants in the Grow Bag. Straw is an easy and fairly inexpensive option that helps to keep moisture in the soil and maintain a more temperate soil temperature. Since the Grow Bags do such a good job of dispersing heat, it’s a shame to have the top layer heat up and destroy your efforts.
Maree recommends dumping the soil out of Grow Bags at the end of the season, and bringing them indoors. “They’ll last three to five seasons,” she noted. To clean them, she said to wash them out with a hose or in the sink, allow them to dry and fold them to store. They don’t take up much space.
You don’t have to store them if you have perennial crops, or if you wish to plant cover crops in them. Theresa planted alfalfa as a green manure crop in her Grow Bags. It fixes nitrogen into the soil, and provides additional organic matter. In the spring, she’ll turn it under the soil before planting. After being left out for four winters, Theresa said that her Grow Bags still look good as new.
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Grow Bags are equally valuable for fall crops, particularly since you can bring the plants onto a porch or pull them into the garage on those early chilly nights. So many times we’ve had a September freeze that nipped everything in the garden, only to warm up to ideal growing conditions for several more weeks. When the plants are in the portable Grow Bag, you can stay a step ahead of the weather to harvest well into the autumn season.
Using fabric Grow Bags is one way for gardeners with limited space or sub-standard soil to grow anything they want. They are portable, last for years and are practical.
This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Fall 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.
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29 Nov Using Fabric Grow Bags For Container Gardening
Mobility and Durability
Grow bags are great for gardens of all sizes, both indoors and outdoors. You can start a plant in a smaller grow bag and move it to a larger grow bag as the plant reaches maturity. Grow bags are predicted to last 7 to 8 seasons, but with good care, they can last for much longer. Grow bags’ fabric is pressed together, not woven, which increases their durability. The bags can be cut without damaging their structure, allowing for the growth not just on the top of the grow bags, but also around the sides of the bag.
Vertical Grow Systems
Good vertical grow bags allow for nutrient-rich garden systems. If you have multiple grow bags, you can stack or hang them on top of each other. When you water the top plants, the nutrients drain from the top bags and form a cascading effect on the lower bags. These systems can be irrigated with PVC piping or hand-watered.
Starting your own Grow bag
Starting your own grow bag is very simple you will need just a few things:
- Organic Soil
- Starter Fertilizer
- Grow Bag
- Seeds or Plants
- A location with enough sunlight
To Start Your Grow Bag:
- Fill with enough organic soil to leave just a few inches of headroom for your plants to percolate water down the root systems
- Moisten and mix the soil with fertilizer to get it ready for the plants
- Plant your plants or sow your seeds
- Fertilize your plants every four to six weeks to ensure that they are receiving the nutrients that they need
While grow bags are a good alternative to traditional containers, there are still a few issues that may need to be addressed.
You will potentially need to weed if a seed so happens to fall in your plants, or a bird or other organism deposits a seed in your garden
You may need to be prepared for pests such as aphids, worms, and other insects. Earthworm castings are a good, organic solution to deter pests. These castings can be mixed into your soil to make your plants taste a little less delicious to the unwanted garden visitors.
We learned from our friend, Curt Lindley, a Peace Corp volunteer, that the two plastic buckets used in the classic Global Bucket may not be practical in developing nations because of their cost.
So we wondered, “Are there any low cost alternatives?”
We believe “Grow Bags” may provide a solution.
A Grow Bag is simple, lightweight, soft-sided fabric bag, usually made out of a polypropylene material. In the USA you may purchase Grow Bags for about $6 to $15 (Smart Pot, Garden Soxx). We’re not sure what’s available in downtown New Delhi, but in the USA, there are very low cost (25 cents) grow bag alternatives (see below).
Why Plants Dream of Grow Bags
1) Aeration. One of the Global Bucket’s best attribute is the aeration provided by the many holes you drill into the bottom of the inner plastic bucket. With a fabric grow bag, the entire surface of the bag provides aeration.
2) Drainage. The #1 killer of plants grown in a container is inadequate or poor drainage. With a grow bag, drainage is quick and thorough. It would be almost impossible to over water in a grow bag.
3) Planting Mix. A container garden must use a light fluffy potting mix to create tiny air pockets for aeration and to provide drainage. Because aeration is dramatically increased by using a fabric grow bag, you may use a heavier, less expensive planting mix, perhaps even ordinary soil and compost.
4) Heat. The plant’s roots are less stressed during the hot summer season because Grow Bags stay cooler than the enclosed non-breathing environment inside a hard plastic bucket.
5) Fibrous Root Mass. Grow Pots produce a far greater root mass than plants grown in hard plastic containers. This is a result of the process (air root pruning) that occurs when a root grows to the side of a Grow Bag. The root stops growing in length and then develops many fine root branches. “Root circling” is also eliminated.
5) Lightweight. Grow bags are lightweight, most have handles and may be folded-up in the winter for storage.
Grow Bags : DIY Low Cost Possibilities
1) Reusable Shopping Bags. Pictured are some examples of the reusable shopping bags commonly found in the USA. Many are given away for free as promotions. We’ve located vendors throughout the world where these type of bags may be purchased in bulk for 25 cents each. To determine if your bag is porous, try filling it with water. If the water pours out of the fabric you’ve got a winner.
2) “Sock” Grow Bag. Similar to the Garden Soxx, you may create a bag out of breathable materials. Possible materials include fabric weed blocker cloth, empty plantation coffee bags, nylon shading material, etc. Fishing line (micro-filament) could be used for any required sewing. The more expensive UV resistant septra fishing line will last longer than the more common cheaper fishing line.
3) Rice/ Fruit Bags. Trish from Hong Kong writes: Rice sacks are common and porous and could be used to contain soil until they break down, cloth would be the same, maybe a year. A container which is used to hand wash clothing is also available and common. I’ve started seedlings this way. Straws and water hose and plastic water bottles could be used.
Grow Bag Irrigation : Ollas Work Great!
We’ve successfully incorporated Ollas (clay pots) into Grow Bags. If you click on the photo on your left, you’ll see one of the Olla’s 1/4″ poly pipe sticking out (there are two 1/4″ poly pipes attached to the Olla, but one is not visible in this picture). We have a number of Grow Bags with our automated Olla irrigation set-up in series, so there’s no boring watering involved. You could, of course, just bury an Olla with it’s top exposed, so you could hand water it.
Also, our water is delivering the fertilizer so it’s KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
You could also set-up a drip irrigation system with Grow Bags.
Grow Bags with AquaValves
Ben Frimmer has designed a brilliant system that combines Grow Bags with AquaValves.
Update : August 7, 2010
Our D-I-Y (cheap shopping bag) Grow Bags with Olla irrigation are doing really well. These tomatoes have been growing for about five weeks. The tomato in the green bag is the same one pictured above. Click on the images for more detail.
Update : September 5, 2010
It’s late summer and the Grow Bag experiment has been great. In fact, next summer we’ll only use Grow Bags, completely eliminating the “expensive” plastic buckets.
Also, next summer. we’ll try using actual soil, as opposed to potting mix for two reasons. First, soil should be less expensive in developing countries than potting mix. Secondly, we’re interested in seeing if using soil will keep the growing environment more moist than potting mix.
Finally, next summer our plan is to build our own Grow Bags out of materials that should only cost a few rupees or pennies.
We just received this great letter from Mrs. Germaine Jenkins. She’s a very smart woman:
I love the simplicity of your Global Buckets concept. Our (American) family has limited income and I’ve experienced success using denim jeans and shorts as homemade growbags (in portable beds surrounded by leaves). Denim holds on to water forever it seems and they’re going great as stand alone grow bags. Soon after I found your website I decided to try and combine the two ideas. I used Eliot Coleman’s organic soil mix and overturned plastic pots to keep the denim bag above water in my buckets. I cut holes in the lid and planted heirloom tomato seeds that I covered with water bottles bottoms removed and filled with holes (a la winter sowing). Within a few days the tomato plants started to germinate. So far so good.
Newspaper by far is my favorite go to gardening staple. I use it all the time for mulching and also made this fruit tree newspaper pot http://www.instructables.com/id/Fruit-Tree-Newspaper-Pot/.
As far as your experiments with garbage, have you considered using newspaper and leaf mold as a filler for your buckets? Here’s a another good article for your review. http://www.paghat.com/leafmold.html. One other possible alternative will be the byproduct from chicken coops, if their owners employ the deep litter method. The deep litter method combines some medium like pine shavings, food grade diatomaceous earth with earthen floors and compost materials and uses chicken power to break it all down along with their own waste to keep the coop smelling fresh for extended periods. I came across a youtube video of a gentleman that applies the finished product directly to his garden beds. Just wondering if it would work in global buckets too.
One note on reusable shopping bags: I’d been experimenting with some reusable shopping bags we had lying around the house but recently found an article online about high lead contents in said bags – thanks Tomatoville Garden Forum ( http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?p=199465)! Here’s the link to that article . I didn’t find the lead content of the bags I used but transplanted my blueberry bushes into porous feed bags instead just to be safe.
Keep up the good work guys! Hungry people all over the world are benefiting from your valuable experiments.
*I don’t update my own website often enough to show you all of my pics but you can take a look at some of what we’ve done at http://www.germainesolutions.com/gs-lazy-urban-homestead-almanac.html
Tater Totes: DIY fabric pots for potatoes & other plants
Fabric Grow Bags
When fabric is used as a container, excess water easily drains away, unlike a hard surface container with a few drain holes. The cloth also allows good air circulation to prevent root rot that can sometimes take out an entire in-ground potato crop during a cold wet planting season. The roots will grow through the fabric and into the ground. The small roots growing through the side of the bags are essentially air-pruned, preventing the plant from becoming root-bound like a hard container.
Growing potatoes in a cloth sack is a similar concept to growing them in stacked tires. I add a little soil and manure to cover the seed potato, and then mulch (some may prefer more soil). Instead of adding tires as the plants grow, the bags are unrolled, as more mulch is needed. The process continues until the bag is completely unrolled.
The Tater Totes (or any cloth containers) are much easier to deal with than tires. They drain water more easily, allow better air circulation, are lightweight, and store folded in a drawer until the next season! I have, also, picked up my planted Totes to run from equipment during a yard project (baby backhoes need more room than you think). You cannot do that with heavy containers of soil or a stack of tires!
Tater Tote Tips
- The Tater Totes can be made as large in diameter as can easily be handled and the landscape fabric can be double layered for additional support. Just sew a tube about 18″ long (or longer), then sew across one end to form a bag. Use nylon thread for all the seams as cotton will quickly rot.
- If you do not have the ability to sew, other materials can be used, like cloth shopping bags, feed sacks, and old clothing.
- I found the planted fabric pots were self-supporting if grown in double or triple rows. We have terrific winds that shoot between buildings at times, so I do not position the pots in single rows unless supported by a fence or building on one side.
- The shredded leaves worked really well as mulch in the Totes, but tightly packed hay did not and caused rot in a couple of the bags.
- The shredded leaves between the Totes were not necessary, and hindered air circulation and water drainage that may have encouraged the rotting hay issue.
- I have not had many pests when using these Totes, but I also companion plant with marigolds, nasturtiums, and bush beans.
- I borrowed Pam’s Potato Bins (potato grow bags) one summer and learned that a hole was not necessary in the bottom of the Totes. I sew straight across the bottom now (much quicker to construct).
- Cloth grow bags can be used for many vegetables and are especially helpful for those needing to be hilled or blanched during the growing season.
- I am not sure how long the Tater Totes will last, but the material is rugged and I have made only a few minor repairs when needed. The commercially sold grow bags are much thicker and sturdier than Tater Totes, but are said to last just a few years. My Tater Totes are starting their third growing season in 2012 (I did not plant potatoes last year), and I think I can get at least another year or two of use from them. I am now using a double thickness of the landscape fabric material to make them more durable (just in case I need to pick them up to run with again).
On a whim, I created a how-to on the construction of my Tater Totes on the Instructables web site that immediately became a “Featured Instructable” (I was so proud)! If you would like more information about how the Totes are constructed and see additional photos of the planted Totes, please take a look at the slide show video (1:43 minutes).
Viewer comments offered excellent ideas for reusing fabric feed sacks, recycled shopping bags, burlap sacks, and blue jeans in lieu of the landscape fabric.
NOTE: Be wary of shopping bags created and printed with lead-based inks/paint, especially those manufactured outside the United States.
Although the Tater Tote design and use has changed a little, the concept is still the same.
See the Bag Gardens how-to (PDF file) using Hessian sacks from the Send a Cow charity.
Also, see Tater Chitting: Preparing Your Seed Potatoes for Planting for additional information about potatoes!
How to Plant Vegetables in Plastic Bag Containers
Plastic bags are sold in many garden centers to be used as grow bags. There is no need to purchase these bags, as a heavy-duty garbage bag is a suitable replacement. Plastic bags are an alternative to traditional planters when starting a container vegetable garden. They are readily available, inexpensive and sturdy enough to last the garden season. Plastic grow bags are best-suited to growing single plants of larger vegetable varieties such as tomatoes and peppers.
Fill a plastic bag with potting soil until there is 2 feet of soil in the bag. Arrange the soil so the bag sits flat on the ground with the top of the bag level with the ground beneath.
Poke six holes in the bottom of the bag. These holes allow excess moisture to drain out so plants don’t become waterlogged.
Plant the vegetable transplant in the bag at the same depth it was at in its nursery pot. Water after planting so the soil is evenly moist.
Check moisture in the bag daily by sticking your finger into the soil. If the top 1 inch of soil feels dry, water thoroughly until moisture begins dripping from the bottom of the plastic bag.
Mix a soluble 10-20-10 analysis fertilizer with water according to fertilizer label instructions. Water with this solution instead of plain water to add nutrients back into the soil.