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They say the best things come in small packages. And this is definitely true of grow bags. A fraction of the weight of traditional garden pots, and easy to condense and transport, grow bags are perfect for growing vegetables and fruits in a small space. If you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, or any other common vegetables in a container garden, grow bags are a cheap and easy way to get started.
But what size bag is the best for growing vegetables? And should you buy different types of bags for different produce?
Today I’m analyzing the best grow bag options for some of the most common vegetables found in the garden, such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and carrots. If you’re new to grow bags, you might also want to check out my article on the top 5 disadvantages of growing produce in bags. A well rounded understanding of the pros and cons will ensure you’re set up for the most success!
Tomatoes and peppers are two of the most popular plants to grow in containers, and they’re also some of the most challenging. They have high water requirements and need lots of sun. They also tend to be more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, especially compared to hardier plants such as parsnips and kale.
The best grow bag size to use for tomatoes and peppers are the 3 - 5 gallon grow bags. Tomatoes and peppers prefer to spread their roots downward as opposed to horizontally. With this in mind, I typically suggest using 5 gallon bags to allow space for this deep, vertical root growth. But if you’re short on space, 3 gallon bags will suffice.
Considering their sensitivity to temperature, it’s best to grow peppers and tomatoes in bags with thick, heavy fabric to reduce the amount of temperature changes affecting their roots. Additionally, if you’re expecting a significant dip in temperature (say, into the 40s), consider doubling up your bags or providing additional insulation.
An exciting aspect of growing tomatoes and peppers in grow bags is that these plants will also happily thrive in inverted grow bags.
Growing plants by hanging them upside down is an amazing space saving tool for balconies and patios. And I’ve always felt that surrounding yourself with hanging or vining produce brings a warm and welcoming atmosphere to the space. Vineyard vibes anyone?
Grow bags are especially wonderful for growing potatoes and other root vegetables. So long as you don’t mind a little bit of a mess, when you’re ready to harvest, you can simply dump the bag over and shake out all your hard earned produce. No pulling, puncturing, or tearing stubborn tubers. Simply dump, gather, and clean up the mess.
Many manufacturers create grow bags specifically for root vegetables. Most commonly, you’ll see grow bags with a little flap on the side that allows you to peak into the container and see how things are going. This even allows you to harvest one or two items from the plant without uprooting the entire thing.
Other grow bags have clear plastic around the middle which also lets you get an inside peak as to how your produce is growing. With root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, timing is key to ensure you get a good crop. These specialty grow bags are one of the few methods for ensuring you harvest at the right time.
For potatoes, I suggest going for bigger bags. Typically 5 - 7 gallon sized at minimum. The amount of potatoes you get is directly correlated to the size of your container. So the bigger the container, the more potatoes. With taproot vegetables such as radishes and carrots, you can likely get away with packing a few plants into 1 - 3 gallon sized bags.
Leafy vine plants, such as squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, are also good candidates for grow bags. Depending on the variety you buy, plants such as these can quickly develop into monsters threatening to take over your entire garden. But growing them in bags can help keep the plant contained.
Many varieties of these vegetables will happily grow on a trellis. And growing plants vertically means you’re saving more much needed space.
One thing to note, however, is how you plan to attach your trellis to the grow bag. The trellis should not separate from the grow bag under any circumstances, otherwise your plant will tear in half. Be sure they are securely fastened together, and tightly anchored to the ground. And refrain from moving them to another location once the plant is established.
Plants from the squash family, such as zucchini and pumpkins, have large root systems that not only grow deep, but also wide. Aim for grow bags sized for 5 gallons or more. If you choose not to use a trellis, I like using wider grow bags for squash and zucchini. It keeps the vines and the vegetables closer to the ground, like they would be if planted in a normal garden.
Most cucumber varieties have slightly smaller root systems than squash, so you can get away with grow bags around the 3 gallon size.
Growing vegetables in grow bags is a convenient way to enjoy gardening with limited space. With the right bags for each vegetable, you’ll have the best balcony or patio garden on the block. And likely, the best homemade pies, salsas, and snacks as well!