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Bag gardening – good luck with that

Carson Arthur

Immediately after my last article, I received several emails about other hot trends when it comes to gardening on social media.

Bag gardens have been much discussed for a few years now but are definitely trending in North America. The theory behind them is that you slice down the centre of a bag of soil and plant your vegetables directly in the centre. Easy right? The theory behind this type of garden sounds pretty awesome.
Put a bag wherever you want and start to grow. Will it work? Of course! Plants are very forgiving…even if you grow them in a bag.

Here is how you make this work.

1. Pick a section of your lawn or weedy garden bed and rake and level it so that you can place the bags directly on to it.
2. Place the bag upside down beside its final destination.
3. Put 2 big cuts through bag and gently roll it into place. DON’T lift it after you put in the slices or the soil will end up everywhere
4. Remove a large section of plastic from the top of the bag making sure to leave the sides intact.
5. Plant in the bag

So easy and yet…I wouldn’t do it! Surprised? I can see a lot of problems with this online approved gardening method.

• First big issue is drainage. While the plants will take root, water will still collect in the bottom of the bag even with the drainage slits, the soil will become saturated. Plants like tomatoes and basil hate to have wet feet. If you do put lots of holes in the bottom, every time you water your garden, the soil will leak out leaving less for the plants.
• Where to put the bagged garden is another problem. If you put the bags on the lawn, they will smother any plants growing underneath them. This may not be a bad thing if you want to keep using the same space and turn it into an in-ground garden. IF you put the bags on concrete, the soil and water leaking out of the bag are going to cause some serious staining…so definitely a no-go for the patio.
• Be prepared to stake your bags! Larger vegetable plants like tomatoes, peppers and corn often need support to handle the weight of the plant because they grow so much bigger than their anchoring root system. With limited depth in your bagged garden, things are going to start to fall over pretty quick.
• Cleaning up your bag vegetable garden at the end of the year is also going to be no fun. The bags with the split on the top and the holes in the bottom are not going to transport easily…especially if you are planning to do the right thing and compost the roots and spent plants. You will have to cut open each bag completely and remove the plastic from the soil, and then try and remove the mess. Good luck with that!

And the most important reason to not garden in bags…there is no amount of mulch that you can put on top of them that is going to make them look good….and who really ants to look at plastic bags in the backyard all summer

-Landscape designer Carson Arthur is host of HGTV’s new Home to Win show. He is also the outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline and wrote the sell-out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living in 2015. More at
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  1. Here’s your answer Dave – the veggies didn’t work out but they’re still growing tree seedlings in the mines. This article doesn’t seem to mention starting them in bags though.—resources/articles/articles—nickel-giant-green-underground-adventure.pdf?sfvrsn=972435bc_4

  2. Dave Gray says:

    25 to 30 years ago they tried growing vegetables down in the nickel mines in Sudbury Ontario, more stable temperatures and under grow lights, using the bag method, I saw them in a tour but I do not know what the end results were.

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