Large grow bags — essentially “instant” raised beds — are easy, ready-to-fill planters that have some great benefits for the urban garden. They’re easy to transport, since they fold up compactly, and plants thrive in them.
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Our former residence—a large lot in town—was steep and shady.
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It was not conducive to gardening at all and certainly not a place where we could plant a nice level garden without a whole bunch of work and wall building. I tucked plants into every sunny spot available in my initial attempt at urban gardening, but I was just not content with that. I wanted to GROW THINGS!
The only really sunny spot in the yard was the driveway. And let’s face it: A garden is much more important than having a place to park! (No, really. There were other places to park. Though there might have been a little bit of eye-rolling by some of the other drivers in the household.)
Raised beds on the concrete made perfect sense to me, so I started exploring my options for a creative urban garden. I made a few beds out of banana stumps, and those worked fine but we just weren’t harvesting bananas fast enough to create as many beds as I wanted. Plus, they were destined for the compost pile after just one season.
Enter grow bags
I debated using wood, but knew they’d rot relatively quickly in our humid climate — and that they’d be expensive. But I ended up going in a totally different direction. I got three large grow bags, filled them with good soil, and went to town planting seeds. [My grow bags are SmartPot brand.]
And look! They worked beautifully. After fighting our limitations for a couple of years, I finally had a very successful—if small—crop from my driveway garden.
The biggest question I’ve had from people is about the material of the grow bags. The grow bags are made of a BPA-free fabric. And the porosity of the fabric allows for air root pruning. Which is kind of a fancy way of saying that plants grown in these pots don’t get root bound like plants grown in hard-sided containers.
Related: Growing blueberries in containers
Grow bags can tend to slouch a bit over time, as you can see. I’m into my third year with these pots, though, and they’re still holding up well. While I opted for large pots, grow bags come in a variety of sizes. The smaller ones would be great for apartment dwellers or those with limited space for growing food.