Put your Big Bag Bed anywhere and just unfold, fill and plant! Photo: bigbagbed.com
If you want to grow vegetables, but have no access to garden space in real soil, and especially if you’re in a big hurry to get started, why not try a Big Bag Bed, a raised garden bed made of fabric and offered by the people at Smart Pots?
Just buy the bed, sold conveniently folded for easy transport, and spread it out it on any flat surface, then fill it with soil. No nails, no glue. It couldn’t be simpler!
You can put your Big Bag Bed on a lawn, a balcony, a patio, a roof, a parking lot, on bare soil, on a bed of weeds … wherever you want as long as it’s relatively horizontal. No need to have soil to dig into. It can go on pavement, concrete or any hard surface. And the Big Bag Bed comes in three sizes*, although if I were you, I’d go for the “original size,” which, at 50″ (127 cm) across and 12″ (30 cm) tall, gives you a round bed with 13.5 ft2 (1.25 m2) of gardening space, enough for a decent-sized vegetable garden.
*Big Bag Bed Junior (36″ × 12″/90 cm × 30 cm) gives 7.1 ft2 (0.65 m2) of growing space while Big Bag Bed Mini (24″ × 8″ 16 cm × 20 cm) gives 3.1 ft2 (0.30 m2). The Mini may not be deep enough for root vegetables.
You Do Need Soil
All you need is soil to fill it: in fact, quite a bit of it! You could order it in bulk, but I filled mine from 2 large bales (3.8 cu ft/106 L) of compressed growing mix (compressed mix fluffs up to about double its original volume) I already had on hand and had some left over for use as potting soil for a few other containers.
Since I wanted to grow great vegetables and vegetables love rich soil, I then worked about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of home-made compost into the growing mix (you could buy a 30 quart/28.3 L of commercial compost and get a similar result) and a few handfuls of organic slow-release all-purpose fertilizer. It was ready to sow and plant in less than 30 minutes.
Weeds Can’t Worm Their Way In
You can put the bed right on top of creeping weeds like quack grass, creeping Charlie, horsetail … and lawn grasses! The fiber pot is too dense for their rhizomes to penetrate. It’s such a joy to be able to start a garden fresh without weeds!
I had excellent results with most vegetables in my Big Bag Bed, but of course, depth of 1 foot (30 cm) is not a lot for long-rooted vegetables, like carrots, long radishes, cylindrical beets and parsnips, so I’ve been sticking to baby and round-rooted varieties in those categories … and grow my parsnips elsewhere. I wouldn’t recommend growing perennial vegetables with deep roots, like asparagus or rhubarb, in such a shallow bed either. But the other usual vegetables (tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, Swiss chard, etc.) all do just fine.
I found no major difference in care compared to other raised beds, but in a drier climate than mine, more watering would probably be needed, as the sides are permeable and would lose water to evaporation.
All in all, the experiment, now in its fourth year, has been a great success and it instantly turned what was originally a patch of weeds into a garden. How often can you say that?
Where to Find Big Bag Beds?
Big Bag Beds are widely available in North America. Try your local garden center, a hardware store (Home Depot among others), an urban gardening supply store or anywhere they sell Smart Pots. Or order directly from Smart Pots.
In Europe, they can be harder to find. You may need to try mail order, for example at Culture Indoor. In Australia, I know they are available from Amazon.com.au.
An instant garden with almost no effort, anywhere? What are you waiting for! Try a Big Bag Bed today!