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Grow Bag Gardening

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In Garden

This is the year that “grow bags” are going mainstream!  Every nursery, garden center, and soil vender I’ve visited this spring has stocked up on all sizes of these grow bags, because they know they aren’t just for the pot farmers anymore.

Grow bags are fabric containers that are ideal for growing gardens in tight places, or where the soil is less than desirable.  All you have to do is unfold it, fill it will soil, and plant.  They are made from a BPA-free polypropylene fabric that is lightweight and breathable.  When the roots get close to the fabric, they dry out and “self prune”, rather than continue to grow in circles, like they do in plastic containers.  The plants don’t become root-bound, but rather develop a more vigorous root structure within the bag.  They are also much cheaper than redwood planters and wine barrels.

Northern California is known for a specific cash crop, and farmers have been doing it well here for a long time (no, not grapes).  They figured out that using giant grow bags was easier than trying to cultivate the rocky, dry soil, with competing tree roots.  The grow bags simply create a more controlled growing environment.  These farmers can produce incredible harvests in the middle of a forest, while gardeners like me watched my plants suffer and dwindle each year.

In the school garden where I teach, we experimented with grow bags in our greenhouse this year.  Our garden is at 3,000 feet elevation, so we have a very short growing season.  This spring we have already harvested strawberries, peas, green beans, cucumbers, dill, basil, beet green, nasturtiums, and hopefully a few ripe tomatoes before school is out.  It’s absolutely incredible!

grow bag gardening

These grow bags are about 3 feet in diameter and are perfect for companion planting.  You can see where some of the roots are starting to grow through the fabric, and that’s just fine.

Grow Bag Gardening Pro’s and Con’s


  • Space saving, perfect for patio, decks, and other tight spots
  • “Instant” garden
  • Soil quality is controlled
  • Soil is warmer than the ground, giving plants a good head-start.
  • Roots are stimulated for vigorous growth
  • Plenty of room for companion planting
  • Inexpensive


  • May dry out, needs watering
  • Deteriorates after about 5 years, then becomes landfill
  • Looks a little funky to some people.

Grow bag gardening might not be perfect, but it is a pretty groovy option for anyone looking to grow a little of their own food this summer.  And as I was telling my principal last week, you don’t even have to visit the grow shops anymore, because these babies are everywhere!

Take a peek into my world of Eating, Gardening, Making and Mothering, authentically and with meaning. Thanks for visiting!
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