Are you looking for an alternative to in-ground garden beds this growing season? Are you short on space for your favorite vegetable plants?
Grow bags are a convenient way to plant tomatoes and more without a ton of garden space. With proper care and storage, you can reuse them each year for a customizable garden that doesn’t require any digging.
Keep reading to learn how to use these flexible containers in your own garden this spring.
What Are Grow Bags?
Grow bags are flexible, fabric or plastic containers used to raise plants. Most look like thick grocery or tote bags. Once filled with soil, they stand upright just like any other planter.
You can keep all types of plants in grow bags, from flowering annuals to deciduous trees.
Unlike traditional garden containers, bags are lightweight and collapsible. This makes them ideal for packing up and storing during the cold winter months.
What Size Grow Bag Should I Use?
Like pots, these containers are typically measured in gallons. You can use this measurement to convert plants in traditional pots to bags and vice-versa.
You can plant most vegetables in a 5-gallon bag. Use an 8- or 10-gallon bag for large or multiple plants.
Do I Need Drainage Holes?
Grow bags generally don’t have drainage holes, and many don’t need them.
Fabric bags are semi-permeable, meaning that moisture can escape even without the help of drainage holes. These containers also allow oxygen to pass through, aerating the soil inside.
While some plastic bags feature drainage holes, the material doesn’t allow moisture and oxygen to pass through the same way fabric does.
How to Use Grow Bags for Vegetables
Step 1: Choose a Location
Find an appropriate location for your vegetable and herb garden. You can use them in your backyard, patio, rooftop balcony, greenhouse, or even indoors.
Remember that these containers will be much heavier once filled with soil. It’s important to fill your bags at or very near their final location.
Step 2: Fill the Bags
Now it’s time to add soil and plants. Depending on your needs, you can sow seeds, use seedlings, or transplant mature plants.
- Add 3-4 inches of soil to the bottom of a 5- or 8-gallon bag (if sowing tomato seeds, fill the bag three-quarters of the way).
- Place your tomato plant or seeds in the center of the grow bag.
- Continue adding soil until the bag is full.
- Add your preferred fertilizer.
- (Optional) Cover the soil’s surface with mulch.
- Use stakes, rings, or a cage to support your tomato plant as it grows.
- Add two inches of soil to the bottom of a 10-gallon bag.
- Place three to four seed potatoes on the soil’s surface.
- Fill the bag with soil until the seed potatoes are just barely covered.
- As the seed potatoes sprout, continue adding soil to cover them.
- Once the soil reaches the top of your grow bag, let the potatoes flower and die off before harvesting.
- Add small rocks to the bottom of a 5-gallon bag to form a 2-inch layer.
- Fill your grow bag with soil until it is three to four inches below the bag’s rim.
- Dig two to three small holes and plant a cucumber seed or plant in each. Refill the holes with soil.
- Use a trellis or stakes to support your cucumbers as they mature, or let the plants trail onto the ground around your grow bag.
You can grow many kinds of vegetables in bags.
For the best results, follow the same guidelines for planting as you would for a vertical or container garden.
Step 3: Clean and Store
At the end of the growing season, follow these steps to clean and preserve your bags for the next year:
- Remove all plant matter and soil.
- Use a garden hose to spray away loose dirt and debris.
- Fill a bucket, utility sink, or plastic tub with clean water.
- Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon liquid dish detergent to the water.
- Soak the bags in the cleaning solution to loosen caked-on dirt.
- With a sponge or gentle scrubbing brush, remove the remaining dirt and stains.
- Thoroughly rinse each bag.
- Air dry bags until completely dry — this is very important!
- Fold and store in a cool, dry place.
Grow Bags Wrapped Up
You don’t need acres of land for an impressive vegetable garden. With grow bags, you can raise tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, and more anywhere you would put a flower pot.
This guide has everything you need to start using grow bags to raise vegetables without in-ground beds or bulky planters. Whether you start with one bag or two dozen, you’re well on your way to creating a compact vegetable garden you can customize year-after-year!
Did you find this guide helpful? What types of containers have you tried in your own garden? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to pass on this article to your fellow gardeners.
Featured image: jjackieboo via Flickr