Monday, April 5, 2021

Hold everything!

I saw this on Pinterest (sound familiar?) and I fell down the rabbit hole. So many gardeners are getting into this grow bag idea. I spent hours on Youtube watching all kinds of variations on this theme and decided I had to give it a whirl. 
Today I went to Walmart and got the following:
9x12' tarp with landscape pins to secure it to the ground
4 48" kiddie wading pools for sub-irrigation (already have drilled holes 2" up from the base for drainage after a rain storm, thanks to my friend Charly)
20 Walmart bags at $.50 each!!
20 liters of Perlite to lighten my compost mix
40 pounds of all purpose fertilizer
4 54" heavy duty tomato cages

I already have six bags of composted manure to mix with the perlite and fertilizer, so I can have an instant garden.  This video really got me. Corn grown in bags?

I didn't buy any veggies in pots, yet, just seeds, but got the following:
Black Beauty Zucchini
Sparkler radishes
Sweet Corn: Silver and Gold, and Early Sunglow
Bush Beans: Bush Blue Lake, Royal Burgundy, and French Filet
Super Sugar Snap Peas (edible pod type)
Bush Champion Cucumber
Darrk Opal Purple Basil
Lettuce Leaf Basil
Mammoth Basil
Sparkler Radish
White seed potatoes
Summer Harvest Garlic
white onion sets

I'll buy tomatoes and peppers in 4 packs and maybe a watermelon. I love the leaf on watermelons if nothing else. I did grow them before but the flavor just wasn't there. 

I think this idea is so much better than my concrete block garden and so much less work. I love planting but hate watering after a while and with these pools I have the opportunity to fill them with an inch deep of water and let the bags wick the moisture up, directly to the roots. That's better for the plants anyway. 

I've placed the tarp/pools/grow bags in view from the house back windows, so I can watch the progress each morning. And I put the whole thing inside the doggie enclosure to keep the nasty rabbits away. 
When the bags are filled and in place I will take pictures. After my nap...

It took 2 hours, start to finish, including clean up. 9x12' and 20 bags almost full. I have one more bag of composted manure, but I think I will wait and let these settle and warm up before topping off each one. 

 Dave came out to admire my handiwork. It looks so tiny, but I am thinking it will be more than enough. Here's how I did it. I put one bag of composted manure into the wheelbarrow and added 4 cups of all-purpose fertilizer and 8 cups of Perlite (as if I really measured!) and mixed it all up, sitting down. Then I scooped the mix into the bags and transferred them to the pools. Then I turned down the edges of the bags so they would stay open and round. The area stayed in full sun til about 6pm, and this is on the east edge of the yard, so the morning sun will reach it at about 6am, providing at least 12 full hours of sun. I haven't had a really sunny garden like this in years. The cost? Under $100 complete with seeds. ha!

I am surprised that there is a lot more room in the pools than I imagined. Which is fine since the bags are moveable and when the plants get big, I will need to separate them for aiflow and accessibility. I was gonna cut off those white barcode tags but the backs are plain so I will use a permanent marker and write what is planted in the bag, with a date. Getting smart in my old age. 

The view from under the cherry trees.
The two cherry trees are just now starting to open. The blossoms are like little rose bouquets. I am so blessed! 


  1. I accidentally jumped on the grow bag wagon last summer when I couldn't afford any more flower pots. I folded over 44 lb dog food sacks that were piling up in my garage and cut holes in the bottom and grew dahlias in them all summer. It was fantastic. This seems much more hi-tech though.

  2. such a modern gardener...... I might try it - in the back yard..... looking forward to your pictures ALL summer

  3. I am so impressed with your industriousness! Before “I lost my back” I would have jumped on trying this! Now, I am going to eagerly watch your progress reports! Well done💕

  4. Love this idea. Wow! Thanks for sharing

  5. Question- Did you cut holes in the Wal mart bags?

  6. Interesting idea I've been pondering for a while. One thing I have to say about the corn and tomato cages in those little bags - they'd never stay upright in Iowa. Even planted in the ground, cages need staked and corn can blow over when the thunderstorms roll through. Last year I tried potatoes in cat food bags - far easier to plant and harvest, but I'm not sure the results were worth the space. That could be due to my inexperience not the method though.

    @ patty a. - no cutting of the bags is needed, these bags are not water proof.

    1. My plan is to move the corn once it reaches 4-5ft and place it up against the house with supports. I have the cages for the tomatoes already to place in the bags. I saw a great idea on one of the videos. The cages in bags were placed in a ring and cable tied together at the top and that acted like a brace.

  7. I'm so glad to see that you did this. I've spent hours reading and watching YouTube videos about this method. If it works for you, I will be on board next summer!

  8. I do not see the point. Seems messy and very ugly.