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Container Gardening: Grow bag experiences

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meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

June 21, 2012
10:47 AM

Post #9174423

Hello, I wanted to hear from folks who have used grow bags. I'm most interested in what made you decide to go with that type of container, what brand of grow bag you have used, are you still using it. Have you liked the results better or worse compaired to regular containers.

I've done some growing, (small scale GB growing) and was really impressed with the results of the flowers, so now that I'm down here, and don't have space in the yard to plant, I'm wanting to start a veggie garden in them. So if you mind sharing your experiences it would be so helpful.

Jan

WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

June 21, 2012
8:15 PM

Post #9175165

Jan, tucsonplumeriaz of DG uses the grow bags. D-mail him. Maybe he will see this. Sharon

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

June 21, 2012
9:27 PM

Post #9175272

Jan,
Here's an article that might help you create a bunch of grow bags for cheap: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3716/
It concern growing potatoes (Tater Totes), but almost anything can be grown in them.

Good luck with your grow bag garden!!
--
Bev

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

June 22, 2012
7:09 AM

Post #9175642

thanks for the info wormslovesharon and sundownr

Jan
moxies_garden
Batesburg, SC
(Zone 8a)

July 28, 2012
1:01 PM

Post #9221604

I tried growing potatoes this season using the contractor bags. 3 different kids of potatoes. It really didn't pan out, but i think it might have been just too hot and dry for them.
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

July 29, 2012
8:21 AM

Post #9222310

I purchased three Dirt Bags from Greentrees Hydroponics at http://www.hydroponics.net/c/612 . The tip came from Tucsonplumeriaz here on DG. They are working wonderfully. I purchased them for my plumerias, and had to buy 7 gal because the root balls of my plants would not fit in the 5. If you e-mail the company they will send you the dimensions. They run a little shorter and wider than traditional nursery pots. If I were using them for vegetable growing I might use the 10 gal. IMHO David
Anna_Z
Monroe, WI
(Zone 4b)

August 19, 2012
12:53 PM

Post #9246724

Hmmm...those look like they might have possibilities for some of my larger plants. Does anyone know the life of these bags? I need to repot my large BOP, it's in a 20 inch pot. If it is a heavy plant, will there be difficulties keeping the plant sitting upright? Will these bags rot? I know, I ask too many questions. LOL

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

August 20, 2012
6:44 AM

Post #9247399

Anna_Z yes these bags will rot over time, 1-4 years depending on your climate, so I don't think they are a good thing for your purposes.

Jan
Anna_Z
Monroe, WI
(Zone 4b)

August 20, 2012
7:10 AM

Post #9247434

Thanks. Would have been an inexpensive solution for not enough large pots, tho.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

March 28, 2013
10:19 PM

Post #9465531

I tried grow bags and didn't like them. If you have them wedged in tight and don't move them, they might be good. But, you cannot plant a large plant and expect to move it around as just picking it up loosens the soil from the roots because of the bag not being rigid.

Would be interested to know if someone else had better luck than I did with this.

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

March 29, 2013
6:51 AM

Post #9465681

That is interesting to hear, as I've not tried to grow large plants, just veggies, although I want to try some flowers in them.

Thanks for your input.

Jan

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

March 29, 2013
8:17 AM

Post #9465768

Jnette,
I've never used grow bags for anything other than seasonal veggies and flowers. I don't think I'd want any plant in them for long-term use (especially large plants) as the bags would eventually degrade/rot.
--
Bev
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

March 29, 2013
6:14 PM

Post #9466283

Well Bev, don't they do the same thing with roots of anything? Roots that spread out, I would think the soil would pull away from them if you even move them a little bit. I wasn't really specifying anything in particular. Just any plant. Maybe the vegetables etc. wouldn't mind the roots being moved around.

Maybe I was just using them for the wrong thing. I think I still have some, wonder what i could put in them on my deck. I might try them again just for the heck of it.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

March 29, 2013
7:21 PM

Post #9466341

Jnette,
The plant roots are air-pruned once they reach through the sides of the bags, but the tiny roots go into the ground a little from the bottom which helps stabilize the bags. I don't like to move planted bags, but I have had to on occasion and most plants didn't mind. The taller plants were a bit flimsy afterward until they regained their balance and a patted the soil back down a little.

I would place a tray or shallow pan of gravel under the grow bags placed on a wood deck to aid drainage, protect boards from rotting or staining, and prevent plants from absorbing any chemical preservative in the treated deck boards.

If you do try again to plant a few bags of veggies, I hope you have better luck!
--
Bev
Lollisa
Palm Springs, FL
(Zone 10b)

March 30, 2013
4:02 PM

Post #9467004

I live in Southeast Florida zone 10 a/b and used a grow bag just recently for the first time. I grew sweet potatoes in one large "potato" bag that has the velcro side flap. I have mixed feelings on how well the side flap works. I kept the directions but unfortunately they and the bag do not have the name or manufacturer listed.
It's like a contractor grade weed block about 20" tall and 14" diameter. I used it for 5-6 months outside in the sun and rain and its in as good as new condition - I imagine it would last at least a couple of years if not more. I'll upload picture to this post showing bag next to chair for size reference - took this today after it has already been used. (Sorry it appears sideways.)
I actually planted a bunch of red potatoes in the same bag. Tried to harvest too soon and only yielded a few very small red ones at first and a few more and a bit bigger sweet potatoes. Potted up a little more soil in the bag and several weeks later yielded about 5 red potatoes and at least 35 sweet potatoes, at least 5 large, 15 or so medium and a variety of small to tiny ones that I threw to my dog because I decided to be done rather than pot up again. I'd rather concentrate on my succulents than veggies plus I don't like the added/different bug issues (spiraling white fly, etc)
I didn't want my bag anchored into the ground with roots so I tried a couple of things. With all the rain we get (even in the "dry season") I found the pan with gravel placed underneath the bag to be a very bad thing - kept everything way too wet - there's a lot of soil in the bag and it was perpetually soaked.
Best solution I found was to set it on top of 3 bricks, like "pot feet," that allowed for great drainage and I could still rotate the bag for best sun exposure. Bag was plenty sturdy for sweet potatoes and vine.
I'll post a picture of the sweet potato vine and red potato plant at about 4-5 weeks, forgot to take a picture before final harvest. Sweet potato vines were at least 5times the length and fullness of the ones pictured.
Oh and by the way I know someone who had a lot of luck here with a hanging tomato bag.
Good luck meadowyck,
Your fellow Florida gardener - Lisa

Thumbnail by Lollisa   Thumbnail by Lollisa         
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

March 30, 2013
7:48 PM

Post #9467188

Lisa,
Thank you so much for the excellent advice on the brick feet idea and posting the pics of your grow bag! I've not seen that type of grow bag, but it does look quite durable! It sounds like you did get a decent tater harvest from them without tearing up your lawn, mulching, hilling, or weeding! Companion plants in or near the bags like, basil, marigold, or nasturtiums, would help repel pests in the future!

Thanks again for reading and posting about your experience,
--
Bev
Lollisa
Palm Springs, FL
(Zone 10b)

March 30, 2013
8:22 PM

Post #9467221

Hi Bev,
Thanks for the advice about the companion plants for pests. You know I had some basil on the opposite side of the patio and never even thought about putting them together. I'm not much on the veggies but my DH and dog loved the sweet potatoes, so maybe I'll play with them again sometime.
Lisa

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

March 30, 2013
8:31 PM

Post #9467230

:-)

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 30, 2013
9:26 PM

Post #9467263

Root Pouch came out with a new line late last year called Boxer Browns. It's supposed to be the heaviest fabric on the market for the grow bags or pouches. According to the manufacturer, they have a life expectancy of 5-6 years, and come in all the sizes needed for almost any plant. One thing they teach is that you can get away with a cheaper, "slower" mix for the bag. This is great for veggies, which are only in the pots for a rather short period of time.

I've purchased 1, 2, & 3 gallon sizes, to try different sizes with different veggies. I have several okra in a 3 gallon to see how stable the pot is, and what kind of root ball is produced with the smaller sized pots. Another benefit of using the smaller pots is that you want the roots to air prune, so they send out more hair fibers, for better nutrient uptake. Using the 2 gallon pots for the various tomatoes, and some bell pepper plants. I also got a 5 gallon as a sample, and am trying to figure out what I should try to plant in that big one. Any suggestions??

Just have almost everything in their pots & can't wait to see how they perform.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

March 30, 2013
9:34 PM

Post #9467266

kevcarr59,
Thanks for the info on the Root Pouch bags! You could plant a mini veg garden in the 5-gallon bag: a patio tomato with a marigold, a couple basils, leaf lettuce, and carrots!

Please post a pic if you can!!
--
Bev

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

March 31, 2013
9:01 PM

Post #9468131

Lisa

Thanks for posting your pics, and for sharing your information.

Jan

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 21, 2013
10:44 PM

Post #9492691

Well finally got around to getting some pics of the tomatoes & okra that's started in the Root Pouches Boxer Browns. I really like the way the plants look so far, since they've been out the last couple weeks in the cold weather. Almost all the tomatoes have blooms on them, and some of the okra has pods, which is better than last year. Out of 5 plants, got 1 pod last year since it was way late and the heat was really getting bad.

#1... The 9 tomato plants... 1 gallon pots front row.. L to R, San Marzano, Burpee Superbeefsteak, Cherokee Purple... The others are 2 gallon pots with San Marzano Redorta, New Big Dwarf, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Cherokee Purple, and a couple others I can't remember right now. The tallest in the back is the Aunt Ruby's...

#2... 3 gallon pots with Burgundy Okra & Stewart's Zeebest in front pot. Back pot has about 8 or 9 seeds that have yet to germinate, but with the heat starting to stabilize this week, they should germinate. The others are 1 gallon pots with Zeebest & Hill Country Red Okra... Look scrawny but they are starting to pod so maybe they will produce something this year.

#3... 5 gallon Square Roots pot with 5 Homemade Pickle Cucumbers in them. Going to a friends garden for their summer vacation since we'll be gone to Florida.

The whole purpose this year will be to see what root development looks like since I won't be able to grow out the entire season... If I get some tomatoes before I leave, so much the better...

Thumbnail by kevcarr59   Thumbnail by kevcarr59   Thumbnail by kevcarr59      
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 22, 2013
5:53 AM

Post #9492850

kevcarr59,
Nice looking plants. They all look happy and I really like those grow bags!
--
Bev
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

April 22, 2013
9:40 AM

Post #9493132

Now I see what the bags are that you are using. I have seen them in the stores. Way different than the ones I got a few years ago.

Mine are just like the plastic grocery bags. Almost.

Your plants really look good.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 22, 2013
10:06 AM

Post #9493157

They still have the plastic bags too. I have trouble figuring out how many plants per container is workable.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

April 22, 2013
11:26 AM

Post #9493240

I suppose it depends on the size of bag and what kind of plants you are putting in them Lisa. Are you using the heavy ones like she has? What are the advantages of using these? Or are they just another gimmick to suck us gardeners in? And do they justify the added expense? I am sure the ones I saw cost more than a plastic pot.

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 22, 2013
1:43 PM

Post #9493425

Reading a lot of research & some blogs seems the main theme is to get the roots to "air prune", would lead me to believe to use a smaller size bag so the root ball will occupy most of the container. That said, they also say to use a "cheaper" mix, which means a more soil mix. When I get to Florida I plan on using garden soil & the Black Kow Composted Manure exclusively. With the fabric pot you are going to have good air circulation anyway, so you can get use a "slower" mix, and get better water retention. I find with the mix I'm using now, MG potting soil & Black Kow Composted Manure, it's not holding much water, but they are getting watered every other day.

Once I get back to Texas and get set to do the market growing end of this, I'll have a 24' X 24' greenhouse, and probably a 12' X 30' or 40' hoophouse to go with it. I'll use the Root Pouches for the production plants, and then have the table set-ups for the tray propogation for starts.

The plastic versus the fabric pots... My thoughts... The woven plastic would have a little bit better breathability than the film-type bags, but the water retention may be too high for the roots to breathe. Another downfall of the plastic bags, either type, is they don't "easily" allow the roots to air prune. They will continue to circle the pot, and not grow the root hairs that uptake the important moisture & nutrients from the soil. That is the main reason why I have used the 1, 2, & 3 gallon pouches. With different sizes & some of the same tomatoes growing in the pots, I should be able to compare like items to see how they react to their environment. I really want to force the roots to prune, and that's why I'm pushing the smaller sized bags. These are the newest in the Root Pouch line having the heaviest material that's available right now. I have also purchased some different bags from other manufacturers, and when I can do side-by-side comparisons, I will gladly report on the results.

I was also looking into purchasing the raw material to make custom-sized bags. I think these would make great onion beds. Having some production & engineering experience, I don't think it would be too hard to make the bags. A good industrial sewing machine would easily handle this material, and I think some of the stitching would be a bit better. That's the only negative I have to say about these bags. In my opinion, the stitching is a bit long and I thought it could be tighter.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 22, 2013
4:08 PM

Post #9493609

kevcarr59,
Did you check the link within the 3rd post from the top? I make Tater Totes from landscape fabric and they last a good long time if they're cleaned every fall and I don't get too rough with them. The material is thin and can tear easily, so I've thought about making some doubling, maybe tripling, the fabric layers.

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 23, 2013
10:34 AM

Post #9494452

I have watched this thread pretty much from the beginning and checked out the Tater Totes deal. You can probably use almost any material to make a grow bag, but will they perform and last out in the sun. I made some but they weren't actually bags, just the material was cut to fit the milk crates, with some overlap at the corners and bottom. I felt the size was right but the crates were a little short. When at the grocery store a few weeks ago, I happened to look at the egg crates and they look to be about 16" or 18" tall. That height would be great for tomatoes especially, and they would be very stable and easy to move when needed. You could use any system you would want to support the tomatoes and use cages or mesh for a trellis.

Went and looked at the okra plants & finally found a flower on one of them. Maybe, just maybe, I'll actually get to harvest some okra this year. After last year's debacle, it's an achievement, albeit a very small one. Still waiting to see what is happening in the 3 gallon with the direct seeded okra, still not up, and we're supposed to have some more cold weather this week.

Another interesting site I found was for the GeoPlanter... They use a PVC tube frame for their raised bed system. Looks pretty good, and that was the seed for my thoughts about making a bed like that using the Root Pouch Boxer Brown fabric. Of course, when you make your own items like this, you control the quality and design of each item. I'm basically retired, so I have the time to do something like this, plus a design and manufacturing background doesn't hurt either. Below is the link...

http://geoplanter.com/





Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

April 23, 2013
3:14 PM

Post #9494777

I had posted quite a lengthy one but my computer didn't like it and deleted it while I was typing. Just to say it might be worth buying one of whatever you were interested in from them Kev to see how they put it together etc.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 23, 2013
7:15 PM

Post #9495073

I'm growing potatoes in the cloth bags they sell for groceries. They are working out great and they are cheap.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

April 23, 2013
7:49 PM

Post #9495117

I think my sister paid $12+ for a potato bag. So, that is good Lisa.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 23, 2013
9:32 PM

Post #9495184

My kids get mad at me bc everything I see I think "What can I grow in that?". But they have handles and they are super cheap. I bought a couple every time I went, now I have enough at least for a while.

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 23, 2013
10:03 PM

Post #9495200

Lisa~ How long do you think those bags might last? I've seen raw material that LOOKS a lot like the fabric you're talking about, but unless you know the specifications of it, you might get a totally different material than you intended. Unless you are real persistent, and try to talk to a bunch of manufacturers, the middle-men you deal with don't have much knowledge about what they sell.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 24, 2013
6:09 AM

Post #9495416

Kev, I'm still using the Tater Totes shown in the article and slideshow. I've had to make repairs to a few because I was too rough with them. I like the idea of using a crate to help support the bags and be able to more securely move the planted bags!!

I was warned about the shopping bags to check the toxicity of the ink used to print the ads, but don't know how you would do that. I may use my stash of shopping bags this year anyway out o necessity. They look as sturdy as the ones you buy, plus they have those convenient handles!
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

April 24, 2013
5:21 PM

Post #9496004

Bev, I tried planting peppers in milk crates a couple years ago, in straw. They didn't do well. It was hard keeping them moist. But using them to carry the bags would work.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 25, 2013
12:40 PM

Post #9496880

Jnette, I agree...definitely going to be looking around for some little crates this year!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 25, 2013
8:43 PM

Post #9497404

Kev- I have no idea how long they'll last. They were only a couple dollars so if they only last this season it's fine with me. I find the practical experience is more informative then taking to sales people. So much depends on the temps and the moisture that the only way I'll know is to give it a try.

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 26, 2013
9:12 PM

Post #9498571

I don't see how those thin bags won't degrade quickly in this Texas heat and sun. Another thing is I'm not sure of the sizes available & what mix to use in them to keep the roots moist enough to grow properly.

Sundownr~~ The toxicity of the ink shouldn't be an issue. Inks used here have been soy based for years, and I know this because I worked for a newspaper back in the 70's. Now, if the items are made & printed overseas, then I would be a bit more leery.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 26, 2013
9:48 PM

Post #9498587

I just use regular potting mix and just like when I water in ground. If it's dry I water it. I wouldn't have tried this with just any plant but I thought they would be perfect for potatoes bc our ground is so hard. They have been out there since the beginning of March and they haven't even faded.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 27, 2013
3:25 PM

Post #9499215

Kev, that was my point. How can you find out where the bags were printed?

kevcarr59

kevcarr59
BUda, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 27, 2013
9:38 PM

Post #9499411

That's the biggest part of the problem, finding out where the bags are printed. Very few would have that information available, that's one of the reasons why I wouldn't use the grocery type bags that are printed. Plus, I don't think they are thick enough to retain their shape. The case in point would be the Topsy Turvy Tomato planter that was the fad several years ago. With the wire rings top and bottom, and being suspended, they could be made with a thin material, but I think they got too hot, especially when I tried them here several summers ago. We had temps consistently over 100 degrees.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 28, 2013
6:36 PM

Post #9500439

I dont think potatoes will be growing in the 100* heat. I used them as an experiment to see how they would work especially for people who don't have the time to do the research or only need to use a few and aren't ordering in bulk. I figured that if they have been oked to put food in they can't be too bad. I really didn't mean to make such a big deal about it. I just mentioned it, and so far they are working fine for potatoes.


I honestly don't believe everything I read or am told. I used to be in outside sales so I know how the words can be twisted. I still know people that use those topsy turvy things.

It's just an experiment that happens to be working for potatoes.

Sundownr

Sundownr
(Bev) Wytheville, VA
(Zone 6a)

April 29, 2013
10:07 AM

Post #9501226

I'm all for whatever gets the job! Some folks seem to be sensitive to a lot of things, and I didn't mean to make a big deal out of items we could recycle for a practical use either. I agree with you on the marketing tactics used. It makes it difficult to know the truth about anything!

Have fun and hope everyone has a success garden this year!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 29, 2013
8:55 PM

Post #9502062

When it says made in the USA, does that mean each piece or assembled? I wouldn't be as easy going about something that auto parts were put in but if it's a bag made for food I feel better, even tho it mite not be.

When I was in sales we sold a product that was petroleum based (all natural) people thought it was biodegradable bc it was all natural and some of the sales reps let this go so they could sell more, even tho it wasn't true.

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