If you’re a beginner gardener who doesn’t have room for an in-ground garden, growing plants in grow bags can be a great way to start.
They’re also a convenient option for balcony gardens or small spaces, like those in condos and apartments. Even better, these large, fabric-like bags can be filled with a variety of different soils and growing media.
1. Add Compost
Composting is a great way to recycle your yard waste and return nutrients back to the soil. It adds micronutrients to the soil, reduces nutrient leaching and helps plants rehydrate.
The composting process involves four basic components: organic matter, moisture, oxygen and bacteria. It works best when there is a proper balance between carbon and nitrogen-rich materials.
It’s a good idea to mix brown and green organic material such as leaves, twigs and manure. The ratio is usually about 1 part brown to 1 part green material.
When it’s ready, compost will be dark, crumbly and smell fresh. It should be screened or sifted to remove twigs, fruit pits, eggshells and other non-decomposed materials.
Compost can be used as a mulch or soil amendment. It can improve a garden’s nutrient levels, reduce transplant stress and make it easier to establish new plantings. It also increases a plant’s ability to withstand disease and pests. It’s free, easy to use and environmentally friendly.
2. Add Mulch
Mulch helps keep weeds at bay, keeps soil warm in the summer, and protects plants from moisture loss. It also adds color and texture to your garden beds.
Organic mulches like straw, wood chips and sawdust retain water better than inorganic mulches and do not degrade as quickly. They also add nutrients to the soil and reduce evaporation.
For best results, spread mulch about two to four inches thick. This depth is ideal because it will keep weeds at bay and prevent water from seeping through the mulch.
To calculate how much mulch you will need for your project, multiply the square footage of your garden bed by the number of inches of mulch you want to cover it. Then divide the result by 12 to find how many cubic feet you will need.
3. Add a Drip System
A drip system is an effective way to deliver water and nutrients directly to the roots of your plants. It works well in vegetable gardens, garden beds and hedges.
To set up a drip system, you will need some basic components: a hose tap, a check valve to prevent backflow into your house, a pressure regulator and a filter. The system will also need a timer, depending on your requirements.
Drip systems are a much more effective way to deliver water than soaker hoses, as they deliver water directly to the roots of the plants. They also last longer and are easier to customize.
To begin your drip irrigation project, make a plan with your measurements and plant types in mind. Then mark the types and flow rates of watering devices you will need to cover all your root zones, and draw in the tubing route.
4. Add a Cover
While the ol’ grow bag can be enjoyed on its own, you might want to consider a cover to keep your harvest fresh. You can find a wide variety of covers on the market, from cloches to row covers, and even cold frames. A growing bag on its own can be intimidating, so a cover with handles is the perfect solution for putting your best plants at their best.
It’s worth noting that a well designed grow bag with a matching cover will be the envy of the neighborhood. A good cover should have several important features including a water-resistant base, a UV blocker and a vent to allow airflow and natural drainage. The cover might also contain a self-watering system, or drip trays that will drip water into the bag for you. As a bonus, the cover will add to the charm of your garden area. To get the most out of your cover, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be patient.