Fabric Bags Revisited


Fabric Bags Revisited Three years ago I wrote a blog piece that featured fabric bags as an alternative to a raised garden bed. Here's a ...

Fabric Bags Revisited

Three years ago I wrote a blog piece that featured fabric bags as an alternative to a raised garden bed. Here's a snippet from that post:

Planted the first week of April, 2018

This is my first year of planting vegetables at the townhouse. I planted in pots and window boxes, but my preferred method was in fiber bags called "SmartPots".

I looked at many solutions such as building wooden raised beds, or using pre-made kits, but in the end they were expensive for the size and had draw backs.

I went big, literally with the 50" bag from SmartPots. It took 100 gallons of potting soil to fill. No easy feat, as there is no street access to the back patio. Remembering my geometry class with Mr. Kasmerski at Rubidoux High School, the area it is almost 15 square feet of growing space. One of the advantages of the fiber bag is drainage. The soil stays moist, but not soggy. As all of the soil is a quality potting mix from Miracle Grow, some of the advice on space of the plants can be thrown out. But using the advice of Monty Don, I spaced the seeds just a hand span apart.

How have those pots held up? Extremely well! The big pot for example has been in constant use all four seasons of each year. Through the extreme Southern California heat, and the soggy winters, and the super dry winds of the spring and fall. The big bag has been the support for crop after crop. 

Sugar Snap peas were the winter crop

This winter I "fortified" the bag with netting to make it harder for the grub hunters such as raccoons and opossums from digging into the soil. The netting was literally "over the top," too much, as the peas grew much higher than the cage. The plants produced a steady crop for about 4 months. When I planted the peas, I added Mycorrhizae Inoculant, this increased the peas natural ability to grab nitrogen from the air for growth. This captured nitrogen becomes a natural fertilizer for the crops that follow the peas.

The summer crops in the big bag are tomatoes and cucumbers. I removed the netting from the top. A good thing, as the tomatoes are taller than expected. 

Note the bag has lost in new shine, but it has no breaks or tears

Besides the 3 tomato plants in the big bag, I planted English cucumbers. They look a little lost in the growth of the tomatoes, but they nevertheless thriving.

The cucumbers are the vine in the foreground. The tomatoes can be seen in the background.

The bags are not as pretty as plastic or porcelain pots, but the drainage is great. Plants do thrive in them and if the plants are doing well, why care about the appearance of the pot? 

There is research that suggests roots thrive in a fabric pot, so it should not be a surprise that crops that grow below the surface do well.

Potato vine planted from an old spud in March

Emptying a sweet potato fabric bag

From a single bag

Only one bag out of 20 has failed. That was when I planted a bare root grape vine and grew too well. The roots literally ripped right through the bag. Meanwhile my plastic containers get more fragile with age with pieces shattering if bumped too hard. Also in some cases I have taken my drill to water logged plastic pots that are no longer draining. Not an issue with fabric.

The big fabric bag does have a downside. That is mobility. To move it a few feet, I had to shovel out most of the soil. Otherwise I would highly recommend fabric bags for your garden.



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At Home and Away: Fabric Bags Revisited
Fabric Bags Revisited
At Home and Away
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