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How to grow in a grow bag

Time:2021-04-22 10:28

How to grow in a grow bag made of breathable fabric. Breathability makes grow bags superior to other container gardening. Learn about soil, water and fertilization conditions.
Our first garden was a container garden on our balcony. We didn't have soil, so container gardening was the way to go. It was fun to grow a container garden on a balcony, patio, driveway or greenhouse. Containers allow us to grow food without land. Containers are also ideal for indoor gardening. You can grow your own salad greens year-round, as well as early carrots and even tomatoes.
Container gardening also faces some challenges. There are some things that go right for any container garden and some things that are unique to growing bags. If you have the option of growing in good soil, that is always better than any container. However, if you need or want to grow in containers, grow bags are a good choice.
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Why grow in a grow bag
Grow bags are made of breathable fabric, which means excellent drainage and ventilation. The breathability makes them superior to other garden containers. If the container is not ventilated and the roots reach the container walls, it will send signals to the plant to produce more roots, which will cause the plant's root system to be constrained. Eventually, the plant just turns around in a container with lots of roots and kills itself. This is a comparison photo at the end of the season. Both plants have finished growing, but one of them has died completely.
Root bounding does not occur in grow bags. Here, if the root system reaches the wall of the bag, it will be "burned" so that the plant keeps producing new healthy branching roots. This is also called air grooming. This photo shows very well that the roots do reach the wall of the bag, but do not bypass it at all.
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Planting Bag Soil
Soil is the heart of any container gardening. In the grow bags we use Mel's Mix from the book "New Square Foot Gardening". This is a good mix for any gardening, but also for container gardening. The mix is 1/3 moss, 1/3 compost mix (such as chicken manure, horse manure and mushroom compost) and 1/3 verdigris. This mix retains moisture, which is very important for grow bag gardening. Read more about soil for container gardening here.
Just like in the garden, we cover our grow bags with wood chips. This helps keep the top soil moist and we find that mulched plants grow better even in containers.
You can reuse this soil mixture year after year. Remove the wood chip mulch, empty all the bags, add about 10-20% new compost, and mix thoroughly again.
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Watering the grow bags
In container gardening, watering is always a challenge. Overwatering can cause plants to stop in water and overwatering can cause them to dry out. It also depends on the material of the container. Grow bags dry out faster than pots. The drainage and ventilation features of grow bags result in more frequent watering requirements. In addition, it is difficult to really saturate the grow bag and water will run right off. Two things are helpful.
Drip system
Install a drip irrigation system to give the grow bag a constant supply of water. We have tried a bottle drip irrigation system. While many people have had great success with it, it hasn't worked so well for us. Piped drip irrigation systems also work fine.
Self-watering system
There is a container for water underneath the grow bag, so the water can be licked away. Any container will do, we got the idea from the kiddie pool growing system. However, if the container is too deep, it will need to overflow. You want most of the root system to be in the air.
There is a box made of foam polystyrene. It is not very deep, so it does not need to overflow. It looks like a raised bed. We planted cucumbers in it. Cucumbers really like water.
Same idea, but the box is made of wood and covered with plastic.
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Fertilizing the grow bag
Since there is very little soil in the containers, it is necessary to fertilize the heavy plants. Personally, we prefer natural fertilizers. Bone meal, vermicompost and compost tea are good natural fertilizers. Also, epson salt and eggshells can help add minerals.
We hope we can encourage you to use grow bags for your container garden.