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Yes, you can create a vegetable garden almost anywhere… in a bag of soil.

You want to grow vegetables without the hassle of digging in the ground? That’s easy enough to do. You can create a mini balcony or terrace veggie bed by planting directly into a bag of potting soil or garden soil. No fuss, no mess, no pots to fill. And since it’s so easy to do, you’ll be off doing other things in less than 5 minutes!

You’ll discover a bag garden suffers from no weeds and, it if is on a balcony or rooftop, few to no pests. (There are no slugs on the 16th floor!) Easy, peasy!

The Right Spot

First, though, find a suitable location for your garden. That means in full sun if you want to grow vegetables: at least 6 hours of sun a day. You can place your bag garden on any fairly flat surface: balcony, terrace, roof, driveway, table, etc. Or drop your garden bag directly on a lawn or even a weed-infested vegetable bed you’re thinking of giving up on. (With a bag garden, there’ll be no weeds!).

Step by Step

  1. Lay the bag horizontally on the selected surface.
  2. Punch a few dozen of holes with a fork or a screwdriver in the bag.
  3. Flip the bag over so the holes are on the bottom. These holes will serve as drainage holes, allowing any excess water to drain out.

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    Some soil companies even show where to cut to create a bag garden.
  4. Cut a hole in the top of the bag. You can remove the top almost completely, leaving only a 2-inch (5 cm) margin all around to hold the soil in place, thus creating a large rectangle ideal for sowing or transplanting smaller vegetables. Or simply cut one hole per plant, more practical for larger vegetables such as tomatoes.
  5. Mix into the exposed soil a slow-release organic fertilizer, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of mycorrhizae (a growth stimulant), that is, if the soil doesn’t already contain mycorrhizae.
  6. Sow or transplant your vegetables, spacing them as you would in a regular vegetable bed. For example, in the average 1 ft3 (28 liter) bag of potting mix or garden soil, there’ll be enough room for 2 tomatoes, 4 peppers, 16 lettuces, etc.
  7. Finish by watering thoroughly.
  8. During the summer, water as needed and fertilize with soluble organic fertilizer about every two weeks.

Soon you will be reaping the fruits of your labor… which was, you’ll have to admit, almost nil!

Use Again and Again!

The same bag can be used as garden for several years. The growing mix it contains will compact down over time, but you simply have to top it up with compost or fresh mix as needed.

What To Grow in Your Bag Garden

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Herb garden in a bag.

Almost any vegetable or herb can be grown in a bag of potting soil except root vegetables with long roots (the bag will not be deep enough for carrots, for example) and extra-large vegetables like artichokes, rhubarb, and asparagus: they also need deep soil to grow well.

You can use the same technique to make a mini-flowerbed of annuals as long as the utilitarian appearance of the bag doesn’t bother you.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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