Its in the Bag

Find yourself with little space but wanting to grow some veggies?  How about this nifty idea from Whole Foods? Take your reusable grocery bag, preferably the ones with Tyvek or some kind of plastic, not canvas kind as those will go moldy, and poke holes in the bottom, fill with loamy soil, and BAM!  a movable pot to grow some lettuce or herbs.  You could also grow a small tomato plant this way as well, or pepper plant, or even some carrots or beets if the bag is tall. sells something similar called a Salad Planting Bag for almost $20 but I like the Whole Foods idea since right now I seem to find myself awash in reusable grocery totes that everyone and their mother is giving away for free (including me!).

The idea is similar to this year’s hot garden product the Potato Bag which I am actually giving a go myself.

Potato Bag

Potato Bag

The idea with a potato bag is that instead of digging the potatoes in the ground they are protected from pests and it is more convenient to harvest.  With the bag it can also be stored flat at the end of the season unlike a trash can or barrel, which also work well.  With the bag, you just place four or five seed potatoes cut into pieces at the bottom of the bag, cover with compost, wait for them to sprout, and when the plants are a few inches high, fill with more compost.  As the plants keep growing you keep filling with compost until the bag is completely filled.

Then you just need to keep the bag watered and fertilized (organically of course) and monitored for the pesky potato beetle.  I have had great success with K+Neem spray but one of my favorite sites for organic garden remedies, GardensAlive, recommends Pyola Spray so that is also a good solution.

At the end of the season you can simply tip over the bag to harvest all the potatoes.  I’m growing fingerlings, Yukons and red potatoes.  I’ve never had trouble growing potatoes before, but this seemed like a good way to do so in less space, with less effort and digging, which for me and my aching back, is a huge bonus!  Plus, these bags will fit between my raised beds or anywhere they can get good sun and drainage.

Looking forward to seeing how my potato bag experiment works.   Though if I was in the UK, I may think about these fancy plastic potato barrels which look like you can harvest while they are growing.  All the best gardening tools come from Britain but it usually takes a few years for them to make it stateside.

If you are looking for a local source for Potato Bags instead of mail order, my local garden store, Mother Earth Gardens, in the Longfellow neighborhood, had some left the last time I stopped by.  They are also selling some of the natural canvas grocery totes that I have made (like those pictured below).

Natural canvas grocery totes

Natural canvas grocery totes

So if you want to use some of your boring reusable bags for your lettuce, stop by Mother Earth and pick up one of these lovely ones to use for your groceries instead. And if you’re making the trip, you can also drop off your supply of plastic pots for recycling and check out Mother Earth’s fantastic selection of sustainably, native and locally grown plants and flowers.  There is a reason Mother Earth has been chosen the Twin Cities Best Garden Center several years running.

And don’t forget your reusable bags to transport your purchases, or (another shameless plug) you could always buy one of mine while you are there!

2 Comments so far

  1. tipper on June 1st, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    I have been intrigued by the potato barrel idea but thought a barrel would be pretty bulky and unsightly. So I’m totally into the potato BAG thing! How much do the bags run?

    I have heard that you can help keep the weight of the barrel more manageable by using straw in addition to compost.

  2. Fiona (quick13) on June 1st, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

    I ordered larger ones from Gardener’s Supply for $11.50 each (had a certificate) but smaller sized ones are available in a set of three for something like $24.99 from Mother Earth Gardens. Straw or loose compost or soil can be used for containers as long as the potatoes stay dark.

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