thoughts on grow bags?

candogal(5b)May 9, 2011

Personally, I'd be fine growing in home-made SWCs out of Rubbermaid tubs or free buckets from the bakery at the supermarket. But my kids (teenagers) and hubby have vetoed that idea. The area I can use for container gardening is in front yard, and they think those would look a little trashy. I've got some decent ideas for things I could build to dress them up, but not enough time.

I started wondering about grow bags. I just ordered some for growing potatoes in after reading the recent article in.. Organic Gardening magazine. They haven't yet arrived. Why the family thinks grow bags will look less trashy than home-made SWCs is beyond me, but they're OK with them.

I've got some landscaping fabric left around from back when I thought that was a good thing, and wondered about making my own. Those might not meet my family's standards, though.

I'm wondering if anyone has compared the brands or types? I wish I could hear about how they work, how long they last, etc. I'm wondering about the Oregon Breather bags from House of Green, the Wooly Pocket ones, and others. Also if anyone has tips on finding a decent price - wish my family wasn't so against homemade pots!


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I ordered some of the Oregon Breathers this year. As you know, there are a lot of options out there. The OBs looked good and the price included shipping. I haven't used them yet, but at first glance, they are very well made and seem like they will last several seasons. The color on the website looked off-white, but they are actually a very light green - pleasant enough for a garden setting, I suppose.

Not to hi-jack your thread, but I'm pondering what type of soil mix I'll use. I've used a variation of the 5:1:1 in the past, but for traditional pots and containers. With the breathable fabric, I wonder if a heavier mix is in order.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 3:12PM
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Still wondering about types of grow bags, but you've got a good question, too, Fortyone. I was planning to use my same ol' variation of 5:1:1 - I replace the peat with compost, because I'm in the no-peat camp. But it's a good question - maybe more compost, to hold more moisture?

So what's the OB fabric? Like landscape fabric, or is it canvas - the pic makes it look like canvas. I'm in New Hampshire, where canvas LL Bean bags are ubiquitous. I'm imagining a bunch of those sitting out in my front yard. Can't see why the teenagers think that would be less embarassing...

I'm also trying to imagine how the grow bags could stand up to the constant moisture. Especially because I'm thinking of making some ollas to help on the watering. I love the idea - basically the same principal as SWCs.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 5:26PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

I found some on eBay for a good price. I was thinking of these for potatoes, etc, for next season

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 6:39PM
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The fabric is hard to describe. It's probably about the same weight as a decent canvas, but much stiffer. When you open up the bag, it's self-supporting without anything in it. I not very familiar with landscape fabric, but it's probably about 4x as thick as the stuff I've seen at Home Depot.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:26PM
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There is a post some where around here talking about smart pots, same thing as what you are using it sounds like. Some one even made their own from landscape fabric. If the bag is on dirt they act like a raised bed, so use the same soil you would use for a raised bed. The earth acts like a giant wick, so you don't have to worry about the perched water table.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 12:51AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

I'm on my second season growing potatoes in them. I got them from Gardener's Supply, so I paid a premium. But like most of their stuff, they are good quality (I do like supporting employee-owned companies when I can). The bags are very sturdy (I can't imagine them breaking, and I've done a fair amount of dragging them around full to relocate them). They've done a nice job with the potatoes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The grow bags from Gardeners Supply and Smart Pots (and possibly other grow bags) are made from polypropylene, which is similar to heavy felt in texture, but is more porous. It's not very much like landscape fabric in my opinion. I've used Smart Pots for three seasons to grow many different vegetables, and I love them. Before starting a new season, I wash them in the washing machine with laundry soap, and they hold up well. I have purchased 20 and 25 gallon pots at about $15 each with shipping. That is much cheaper than any wooden or plastic pot of the same size that I've found. There are links to several studies that evaluate fabric pots below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Acedemic studies of smart pots

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:33PM
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Thanks, Ohiofem! That's just what I needed. It parallels what I noticed last year as I made my forray into growing some things in containers. I was pretty disappointed with the production of the containers, and now I'm wondering if it was due to the potting mix in the pots overheating - it was unusually hot in NH last year. My in-ground garden did OK, though, and I knew I was providing enough water to both, so I didn't think that was the factor. I almost gave up on containers, but I do want a larger garden.

One question: polypropylene is porous? Really? I got the potato grow bags I ordered from Pinetree (brand name Gardman), and they remind me of a regular ol' blue tarp. Maybe they use a different mix of polypropylene in the more expensive ones?

I chuckled while I was reading one of the articles - they also compared traditional potting mix to a pine bark based mix, and the pine bark based mix was superior. So it's not just on GardenWeb that are listening to Tapla's ideas. Guess that answers our question on what potting mix to use!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:00PM
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I think they are a great idea and they work really well. Its becoming more and more popular as well. The trick is to use UV protected bags otherwise they will break down in the sunlight.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Bags

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 1:15AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

If you have gophers, they can still get into them! Nancy

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:02PM
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