We’ve all been there at one point or another. The summer got away from us and now it’s fall. We do not have anything started and the cold temperatures are already here. Despite the season, we still want to grow some fun cool weather plants like onions, garlic, rutabagas, mustard greens, or anything else that might handle the weather. That’s where a grow bag comes into play. I confess that with the flooding from the hurricane and the subsequent rush to find a new house, the last thing on my mind was setting up a fall garden even though I had been planning one for years. If that sounds like you too, fear not! There’s still some time to get those cool weather plants going before winter sets in with a little help from a grow bag.
Cloth Gardening Grow Bag
The one I bought normally costs $17 for a medium sized one but was on sale for $4. Score! This grow bag has basically all the benefits of a raised bed without the hassle of putting one together. It’s also easy to store since it folds up when you’re not using it. The cloth gardening bag can probably be washed out at the end of the season to grow more stuff another season.
Handy individuals might want to look at making their own raised garden bed, or, if you are handy with sewing, your own grow bag. However, the focus here was getting veggies in progress before the weather turns nasty. If you already have a raised bed or one that can be assembled quickly, those contraptions will probably also work for this project.
Winter-Hardy Plant Starts
Prices vary. The ones I have seen included $6 for a bunch of onion starts, $4 for three garlic bulbs, $4 for a 6-pack of greens, $3 each for Swiss chard and strawberry plants. Depending on where you’re located, what will survive through the winter also varies. Winter hardy flowers are good way to add some color and some varieties are even edible. Just pick something that won’t get too big because otherwise it will use up all of your available space. As an example, mustard greens need a foot or more in between each plant!
Bags usually cost around $6 to $8 for a full-size bag of decent quality stuff. Folks with raised beds that are already set up might even get away with simply refreshing their existing soil with amendments such as compost.
Optional Project Extras
Some gardeners make their own compost and probably already have this on hand. Even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to mix some into your soil to boost its nutritional qualities. If you’re really serious, supplement your soil with some home-brewed compost tea! You can nonetheless get pre-made compost at garden centers for $4 to $6 a bag. You probably won’t need all of it so save some for later gardening projects. But, if you’re trying to cut down on project costs a little, the compost isn’t totally necessary for a successful garden. Just make sure you buy good potting soil.
Whatever you have already works just fine. There’s lots of organic and chemical options out there. I personally prefer pelletized fertilizers, which are time released and a lot less likely to burn your plants if you get a bit heavy handed with them. I’ve used both Osmocote granules (chemical) and Ecoscraps (organic) with pretty good results. But you may not even need this stuff if it’s already included in your potting soil.
This could be in the form of hay straw, wood chips, or pine straw. Any of these options will help protect plants from the cooler temperatures and keep the weeds out of your garden. Just be aware that pine straw is acidic and therefore it is not suitable for some plants. Other good options for protecting tender plants against the elements include cloches (you can make these easily from old milk jugs or plastic soda bottles), row covers/tarps, and maybe cold frames if your garden bag will fit inside one. Or, just build your own geodesic dome!
Be it a pitcher from the dollar store, an actual watering can, a garden hose, or a recycled soda bottle, you’ll need some way to get water to your plants. If you want to get really upscale or you have them already, the garden hoses that work on a timer are a great way to keep your garden watered with a minimum amount of effort. Just be sure to turn them off when it rains to avoid flooding out your yard.
Putting Together Your Quick & Easy Fall Garden – Grow Bag Style
1. Select a reasonably sunny spot for your new garden. Most vegetables need full sun, though there are some species that can get by with only a few hours of bright light. If you only have shade, you’ll want to check out alternative veggies. Leafy greens are a good place to start.
2. Open the garden grow bag up and fill it full of potting soil. Or you can assemble your raised bed kit and fill it full of dirt. If you already have a raised bed, skip this step.
3. Work in any soil amendments that you plan on using, such as compost or fertilizers.
4. Position your plants, leaving enough space between them so that they won’t crowd each other out when they reach their full size.
5. Dig appropriately-sized holes, remove the plants from their containers, and gently squeeze apart the roots so they will space out like they should.
6. Place plants in holes, making sure to cover up all the roots.
7. Water the plants until the ground is soaked.
8. Add mulch such as wood chips or straw if you choose to do so.
9. Don’t forget to water your plants on a regular basis if it doesn’t rain or if they are located where rain won’t reach them.
10. Harvest and enjoy your vegetables as needed!
As always, best of luck and happy gardening!
The unbelievably-priced and well-reviewed GardenMate 5-pack of 5 gallon grow bags are just $8:
Or, super-size your grow bag, with the Smart Pots Big Bad Bed, for around $10-$30 depending on size:
Intro Photo (of the Original size Big Bad Bed) – SmartPots.com