Gardening in a bag is likely the simplest, fastest way for someone to get into gardening without requiring a lot of setup, tools, or know-how. All you need is a bag of potting soil and some seeds, all of which you can get from any garden supply store (and even some grocery markets) for just a few bucks.
Benefits of Gardening in Bags of Gardening Soil
The primary benefit of growing directly into a bag of soil is speed. Convenience and cost savings are also big benefits of this method. With this method, the container, soil preparation, and so forth are all taken care of and only the plant or seeds are needed to complete it. A small garden (or part of one) can be planted in less than a minute – literally.
For those with limited space and resources, this is a great answer to the dilemma they have for growing food. As with any container garden, soil bag gardening requires little space and can be very easy to set up and actually do. Of course, it has disadvantages as well.
The primary disadvantage is longevity. A bag of soil is not likely to be useful again as another growing container or medium once a crop has been grown in it. This means that it is not multi-seasonal or even useful past one crop of plants. This is due to depletion of nutrients, a common problem in all container gardens. Most container gardeners use the soil in the containers for one crop, then dump and replace it. Some get sophisticated about re-utilizing the soil, but most do not.
How to Plant Garden in Bag of Potting Soil
First, acquire a bag of soil that is of sufficient size for your space and plant needs. Most bags of soil suitable for gardening are sold at the garden store directly off of a pallet. They will be between 1 and 2 cubic feet in size (roughly 20-30 pounds) and will be a good mixture of compost, mulch, and possibly peat. These bags are usually labeled garden soil or potting soil. Check the nutrient content the bag claims and go with whatever is richest unless it’s out of your price range. Those labeled potting soil are usually better.
Now acquire the plants you wish to grow – either as seedlings or seeds. Then get started!
Place the bag where you will be leaving it for the season. Remember that some soil will drain out of the bag and spilling is likely to occur. You should also have a way to cover the bag or otherwise keep heavy rain from it, as this will quickly cause it to overflow as the soil becomes muddy.
Once the bag is in place and you have a good spot with enough sunlight for your plants and shelter from the rain, pierce small holes (about 1/4 inch in diameter or so) around the bottom edges of the bag. If it sits not quite level, put more holes in the lower end than the other. These will be for drainage. For a 1x1x1 foot bag (1 cubic foot, the bag will actually be about 1:1.5:0.5 in dimensions), put four holes in the longer sides and two holes in the shorter.
Now you can either cut the top open to create a hole or you can punch large holes (1 or 2 inches around) in the top of the bag for your plants. The second method will keep the soil warmer and more moist, but may result in overheated plants. Use your judgment or experiment by starting this way and, if your plants wilt too often, cut the bag away. Then put your seedlings or seeds in place.
You’ll need to water frequently and lightly – maybe once a day or every other day, depending on the weather. If heavy rains begin, cover the bag so it doesn’t get soaked. The cover can be just about anything from a small tarp section to an umbrella tied down over the bag.
Watch the plants grow!
What to Plant in Bags of Potting Soil
Any plant that does well in large containers will do well in a garden soil bag. Cherry or bush tomatoes, bush beans, vined squash varieties, lettuce, cucumbers, and literally any plant that doesn’t require deep rooting will work. Be sure to space them or grow them solo according to their requirements.
Gardening Tips for Using Bags of Soil
Be sure that it keeps moist and don’t let it dry out or the plants will die. Conversely, too much moisture (and drainage) will deplete the soil of nutrients too quickly, causing problems for the plants.
Want to learn more about planting small gardens in a bag of soil?