By Jenny Prince for Oreeko
Wouldn’t it be so divine to eat homegrown organic foods no matter where you live? With the fast and easy process below, you can harvest sweet bowlfuls of salad and tasty herbs no matter your land limitations. Depending on the varieties you choose to plant in your soil bags, you can start harvesting baby greens within a month!
Here’s how to set up a speedy organic garden on you deck, fire escape or atop the spot of your future veggie patch before you can actually get down to the digging:
1. Purchase Organic Potting Mix in Large Bags
Organic potting mix is readily available year round
You should find plenty of choices at the garden centers or home centers; just be sure to buy large flat bags of loose soil instead of the cumbersome ‘compressed bales’. Since you’ll be planting directly into the bags, it’s necessary to have plenty of space for plant roots to get their fair share of nutrients. (16 qt bags are the smallest size I would recommend.)
While plastic isn’t always my first choice for growing eco-friendly foods, it’s much less expensive than buying terra cotta pots and it’s also a commonly used material on many organic farms. The bigger your bag, the more soil you’ll have to work with that’s not making contact with the plastic.
2. Cut a Large Rectangle Out of the Bag and Poke Some Holes in the Bottom
The sides of the bag help to keep the soil in place
Using a pair of scissors or a screwdriver, poke a handful of broadly spaced holes on one side of your soil bag (this is much easier to do close to the bag’s final resting place). Water can now drain out instead of making a muddy mess for your plants!
Next, flip the bag over and trim out the middle portion of plastic, being fairly gentle so that the sides remain intact and soil doesn’t spill out.
3. Elevate the Bags if Necessary
The spacing between the deck slats shown here will allow rainwater to drain
If you’re not placing the bags directly onto a slatted deck or metal grate, you’ll need to boost them up high enough so that they’re not sitting in puddles of water. This is a safeguard against losing your plants to drowning on days of heavy rainfall.
Two good solutions are to lay the bags on cinderblocks or to place them on upside down milk crates.
4. Choose Shallow Rooted Plants
Tender lamb’s lettuce is a great choice for growing in bags
Lettuce, greens, onions, radishes and strawberries are excellent choices for bagged organic gardens. Taller plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants generally have much larger root systems that would be too confined within such a small space. If you have a large bag of soil (32-40 qts), you may be able to get away with planting a smaller ‘patio’ or ‘container’ variety of tomato, zucchini or peppers.
Herbs are another great choice, but because they come in all shapes and sizes you’ll do better to pick a smaller plant like thyme or globe basil, as opposed to a large, spreading plant like mint. One good rule of thumb to remember is that root systems are generally the same size and shape ‘underground’ as the plant is above ground. Choosing more compact plants will help keep small-scale your garden healthy!
Photos by Jenny Prince
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenny Prince – a professional vegetable gardener and soil mineralizer, as well as the author of Eat Like a Farm Girl: 3-Ingredient Plant-Based Recipes. She shares her love for all things vegetable at jennygrows.com.