By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Many years ago, there was a rash of plantings that were occurring in potting soil bags.
This was a great approach for those urban gardeners who had no land or could not plant a garden on their property.
But as ours lives have gotten busier, the potting soil bag garden is coming back into vogue.
Why would one plant a garden in a bag of potting soil? Well the answer is simple and that is the convenience. There is no mixing; no laying down drainage material, no cleaning containers, and the end of the season cleanup is easy. Just dump the soil in the compost bin or throw it away.
While there are pros, there are also cons to this planting approach. First, there could be a health issue with the toxins in the plastic. As the plastic heats up, the chemicals can contaminate the soil and in doing so will contaminate anything you harvest out of that garden.
Second, depending on the color of the bag, you can have a watering problem. Dark colored bags will require more water while light colored bags deflect the light, which can cause increase insect activity while affecting the photosynthetic process of the plants.
To compensate for the negatives while keeping the positives, one can just plant the potting soil garden with plants that will act as insect traps or just those used for beauty. Insect traps are those plants that are the favorites of pests, which will be abused instead of your vegetables or flowers, or those that are used by beneficial insects, such as those used for their food. Either one of these will benefit your vegetable garden space without the fear of eating something contaminated from the soil bag.
Making a potting soil bag garden is easy. First, make sure to pick a bag that is not split on the ends. While this may seem simple, many gardeners have gotten home and removed their bags of soil to find out that half of their soil is in their trunk.
Next one will need to decide if the garden is going to be movable or stationary. A movable garden is great if you need to place a planting around your vegetable garden space where an insect problem may be occurring. On the other hand, if you are just beautifying your environment, you may want to consider a stationary garden that is placed near a favorite location in your garden space and/or porch.
If you choose a movable garden, you will need to place the bag in an empty flat that flowers come in. This will give you a stable “tray” by which you can carry your garden. Once that is done, the following steps are for both movable and stationary garden designs.
First, one will need to pull out their garden knife and a marker. Mark with an “x” where you would like to plant your plants. This is the time when you can be creative but always test your design out first by placing your plants on the marked locations. Do not worry about these marks showing; after the plants have become established and begin to grow their vegetation will cover the marks.
Next, flip the bag over and poke a few, small drainage holes in the bag. Once that is done, flip the bag back over and begin to cut through each “x.” Peel the “x” back and plant with your chosen plant. Once all the plants have been planted, water in and close up each “x.”
Take care of this garden as you would any other garden and you will be surprised how well it will do. But as easy as it is to grow, there are a few hints to follow when using this gardening technique. First, always open the “x” when watering. Two, if the garden is on a black surface, consider placing a piece of cardboard underneath.
This thin layer is enough to keep the bag from absorbing the heat of the payment and cooking your plants. Last, while any plant will work, avoid trailing plants or any plants that will need support. The soil depth is not deep enough to hold a trellis or plant support.
So until we blog again, a tisket, a tasket, lets plant in a little soil bag.