More econonomical container gardening

995practicalFebruary 27, 2011

Can you plant tomatoes (or any other plant) in a plain bag of soil like say Miracle Grow? Or would they be unable to breathe or something? No one else seems to have asked this yet so I guess the answer is pretty obvious but I'm looking for ways to save money. Thanks in advance to anyone who deigns to reply

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

A lot of people will lay a bag of Miracle-Gro or other heavy potting soil on the ground & poke several holes in the bottom, then plant tomatoes or other plants in little Xs slit into the top of the bag. The bag of soil actually becomes a raised bed, so you don't have to worry about over-watering. It will work best if you make holes large enough that the roots have free access to and can easily grow into the soil underneath the bag of potting mix. Let me know if I wasn't clear enough or if you have questions.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 5:34PM
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Very, very clear, thank you very much for the quick reply! I'm glad it will work.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 7:01PM
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Yes, you can. Most people do. I have grown tomatoes and other vegetables and flowers in bagged soil. I mix some small bark chips or composted bark in the soil and plant. You can buy a bag of bark in any big box store.

Grow in an area with full sun and don't overwater. If you plan to grow large tomatoes you will need a large container.

Here's a shot of some of my vegetables grown last summer on my deck. Everything is grown in containers.

June 2010, 3 weeks after planting seedlings in pots:

August 2010


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 7:16PM
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I believe the grower wants to simply lay the originally purchased potting soil bags directly on the ground, cut slits in the bag, insert plant starts, and grow tomatoes in this manner. There's no mention of wanting to amend anything or deal with pots. In fact, pots and amendments would negate the grower's entire purpose, which by the thread title indicates wanting to save money by not using anything extra, as in pots or amendments.

While it's not what I would consider the ideal growing method, it does serve the purpose of saving the grower money. And as long as there's contact of bag to ground underneath to help wick away excess moisture and allow for the roots to grow to potential, and as long as drainage remains adequate, there shouldn't be too many issues involved.

In fact, garden centers everywhere sell those little green plastic growing bags for Petunias and the like, so the concept of growing right in the original bag is doable.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:40AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Ive link a thread in the tomato forum with picture of what you are asking about.

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato in bagged soil

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:58AM
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My nursery has done this very thing to promote the sale of a soil product that is formulated particularly for the growing of veggies, either as a container mix or for raised beds (even to incorporate in a regular inground veggie garden).

They lay the bag in the midst of the tomato plant display, cut a large 'X"' in the center of the bag and planted one tomato plant. A little unconventional but it worked perfectly. The product has a number of organic nutrient sources added so no further fertilizing was done (one of its promotional points), but it was watered daily, or as needed, along with the potted tomato plants. All the nursery employees enjoyed the harvest with their lunches when the time came :-)

One could do the same with any bagged container soil, as long as needed fertilization - and of course, proper watering - was supplied. It was a little tricky setting up an appropriate staking method to support the growing plant however - not a lot of support for a traditional tomato cage.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:27AM
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For support, a person could begin by laying the bags next to a fence, keeping in mind, of course, the amount of sunlight the tomato plants would get... a chain link fence would be ideal. Or, one could simply punch the tomato cage all the way through the bag and into the ground beneath, if the legs of the cage were long enough.

I suppose there are other equally workable methods for support... the choices of tomato cages and trellis items is much greater today than it has ever been.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:44AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I believe your right Jodi. :-) The bag IS the pot, as is, nothing added. ;-) It would be a $$ saver.

It's a neat idea, but around here, the bag would disintegrate before you could get a tomato. Our sun is pretty harsh and with the heat, it just wouldn't work.

Along the fence is a good idea for support.

In the past when i didn't have cages, i'd just pound in 3 steaks around the tomato and get some twine.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Thanks all or the replys,especially mksth's link (guess I wasn't the first to ask). I didn't think about the bag disintegrating, I'm in zone 6 and planned on putting the bags near a white fence in the back were it would get a lot of sun, would the white paint speed up disintegration? My other plan was a slightly shady area in the front yard, but again by a white wall.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:00PM
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I doubt the paint on the fence would interfere, and I'm not sure the bag would disintegrate within the time frame of one growing season... I've never tried growing tomatoes in this fashion, though.

Even if the bag did begin to fall apart halfway through the season, the plants should be well on their way to rooting into the ground beneath the bag, so the soil would act as topsoil/dressing... at that point, you could probably remove the bag and allow nature to take its course... if you didn't mind some small soil mounds by the fence, that is. But any mess could be raked right into the yard afterward.

I grow in raised beds and directly in my garden beds, so I've never tried anything like this before. It would be interesting to see how it works out.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 3:19PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

HI practical~

I can't really say for your zone, i'm not too familer with it, or what your temps and sun are like.

I'm in Tucson, lots of sun, 110-113* from June-Aug. easy! our growing season is really march-Dec.

I've left bags in the past years just in the yard along side of the house, that could not be picked up by end of season. Just touching them would tear. LOL!

I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I'm just saying there's no way it would work here.

Were a tough zone. lol..


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 5:41PM
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