A grow bag is a soil-filled sack used for growing one or a few plants. Grow bag gardening is convenient and efficient. If you’re short on space or don’t have a ground surface to work with, setting up a few grow bags could be a perfect solution for you.
Advantages of Gardening in Grow Bags
Compared to traditional garden beds, grow bags offer several advantages:
Inexpensive – Grow bag gardening has super low start-up costs. Bags and soil are cheap and the option to garden on a small scale is ideal when you only want to grow one or two plants or a patch of greens.
It’s easy to be cost-efficient when you’re working with a small growing space. You won’t need to buy extra items like lumber or weed barriers, and even your tool needs are minimal.
Efficient Use of Space – Grow bags are small and tidy. In places where there’s room for just one or two plants, it’s not worth setting up a mini garden bed. But those little nooks and corners are perfect for grow bags.
Place your bags anywhere that they fit or on the outskirts of garden beds. Move them around as needed to adjust exposure to sun and rain.
Easy Crop Rotation – In a small backyard garden, crop rotation can be challenging. There’s not always enough space to practice true rotations. Sure, you can swap your peas and tomatoes, but they’re still just a few feet from where they started. Growing the same plants every year in the same soil allows for a buildup of pests and disease as well as depletion of soil nutrients.
If you’re only using bags, it’s easy to replace or refresh your soil between growing cycles.
Grow Bags vs Pots or Plastic Containers
Grow bag advantages are like those offered by pots or plastic containers. But bags offer an extra benefit concerning root growth. Roots that reach a solid edge in a pot or plastic container become “root bound”, which means that their growth continues in a circular path around the inside of the pot. This is a harmful condition as roots can get so dense that they strangle each other, cutting off the ability to uptake nutrients and water.
When roots reach the edge of a porous bag, they contact the air. Roots that reach air typically stop growth in that direction (that’s why you don’t see roots growing up from the soil surface into the sky). Access to the porous material of grow bags prevents root-bound growth. Instead of spiraling, roots continue growing in a more fibrous, spread-out and healthy manner.
Disadvantages of Gardening in Grow Bags
When working with grow bags, there can be some small challenges:
- Water wicks out of grow bags, so extra watering is needed.
- Large, full grow bags can be heavy and tough to move; the handles or seams might tear while you carry the bag, or the contents may spill out.
- Bags wear out more quickly than pots or containers. They also may not be biodegradable, thus increasing your garden’s landfill output.
How to Grow Plants in Grow Bags
Select bags with these qualities:
- Breathable, heavy-duty landscape fabric.
- Black color – dark bags absorb heat and block light from striking the root system.
- Sturdy handles if you expect to move your plants during the growing season.
Choose the Right Size Grow Bag for Your Plant
Use five-gallon bags for your smallest plants and progressively larger bags for bigger plants.
For a more minimalist approach, you can use an old burlap bag or even grow plants directly out of a bag of potting soil.
Soil to Use in Grow Bags
For most garden plants, use well-draining soil, such as a potting mix. As long as no diseases have entered, you can reuse most or all your bag soil repeatedly. Add fertilizer or compost for new plantings to maintain healthy soil.
Watering Grow Bag Gardens
Bags dry out fast, so you should plan on watering bag plants a bit more often than potted plants. Add a layer of mulch to your soil surface to improve water retention.
Other than that, grow your plants as you normally would! You may notice fewer pests and weeds, and you’ll be able to move the bags around as needed to provide optimal conditions.
What Can You Grow in Grow Bags?
You can grow flowers or other plants (even fruit trees!) in garden grow bags, but they’re most popular for creating a grow bag vegetable garden.
Like any container, a grow bag limits the potential length of roots as well as the amount of soil and water you can input. Plus, plants that grow big and bulky could potentially tip over the bag.
To make sure your plant choices are well-suited for bag gardening, choose dwarf varieties that won’t get too big. Opt for plants that grow to predictably modest sizes.
Here are 9 veggies well-suited for grow bag gardening:
Gardening in Small Spaces
If you’re limited to a small area for growing flowers or veggies, another great way to manage a small crop is raised bed gardening. Raised beds are not mobile and compact like grow bags, but they create a space you can fill with rich gardening soil and grow a few of your favorite flowers and vegetables.