Grow bags are a something I learned about in quarantine. Their name describes them precisely. These are bags meant for growing! Since grow bags are made of fabric, aeration and drainage are optimal versus the common plastic or terra cotta flower pots. They can be sourced online or even made on a sewing machine. While just about any supply was out of stock in stores during lock-down, I was able to purchase this pack of bags from the big name we dare not mention. Although I took the easy route to obtaining these bags, they can be sewn with many types of fabric. A couple of patrons sewed dozens of grow bags in our makerspace, Creation Station to plant sapling apple trees in the making of a small orchard.
If you have the will to make your own bags, follow these instructions from Northern Homestead. They recommend using weed control landscape fabric to make the bags instead of using it under your mulch in the garden beds. I concur that landscape fabric has little weed control ability and am certainly intrigued to make bags with the roll I purchased, but never used.
The bags I purchased are durable, more so than the landscape fabric will create, but I’m willing to test that theory for curious minds. Perhaps making grow bags will be a lesson we cover in an upcoming #SeWednesday. Whatd’ya think?
Ginger was a crop I learned to grow this season. I also learned she’s a temperamental girl in this Northeast climate. Our spring literally sprung temperatures to both extremes. It was deceptive weather patterns and an anxious gardener that helped hinder the health of the green sprouts you see above, but the grow bags had their first test and won my approval! For a second try, I decided to put to test a program idea that was in development with Bluebird Trail Farm before our lives were flipped for the foreseeable future. Let me walk you through making a Pizza Patio Pot.
The main ingredient of pizza, after dough, is tomato sauce. A neighbor gifted me a flat of tomato plants–that’s 32 plants! My empty garden beds filled quickly, leaving about 12 plants that still needed love. I took the strongest of the leftovers along with the grow bags and attempted a little tomato plant first aid. Extreme day sun and another frost bit these plants hard, but I wanted to see how much resuscitation I could actually provide, while possibly inspiring some of our readers.
Using the recipe for Square Foot Gardening, I filled up three bags with the materials I had left. Each bag holds seven gallons of dirt, so I felt it worth the risk to place 2 tomato plants in each bag. I had three beets and three basil plants to add to these pots and decided they could be the most delicious Pizza Patio Pots for any gardener. *I would add beets to my pizza, yes I would. For those opposed to beets on pizza, I recommend adding herbs like oregano and parsley that you like in tomato sauce.
After the bags were filled with the growing medium, I wanted to add a layer of wood chips as mulch. As I added the layer of chips to finish each bag, I cupped my hand to cover the tiny basil plant and protect the leaves from damage. I often get lost in the YouTube rabbit hole of curiosities and found these Back to Eden garden tours with Paul Gautschi who recognizes the power of wood chips for bountiful gardens. This was just another layer of experimentation to my experiment. Would the wood chip layer help maintain moisture to the plants, while feeding the plants with nutrients as the chips break down throughout the season? Watch a video with Paul if you have a few hours to be inspired by his admiration for nature’s free fertilizer.
Once each grow bag had their layer of wood chips, it was time to water these puppies and let them process their magic over the growing season. We saw the driest June and July in over a decade of living in the Fingers Lakes, so the little green watering can was my best friend for several weeks. I kept the bags on the grass, so water can flow right through, but they can be place on a patio or porch, as long as they receive enough sunlight. Remember water will flow through, so if you might want to protect the surface upon which you place these pots. I found that baking sheets work very well for keeping the water from sitting on a wooden porch step. Any liquid that is collected gets absorbed over time.
After four weeks, the towering tomato plants above are those I resuscitated. Either the wood chips or an attentive gardener helped them regain health. Each plant is starting to provide cherry tomatoes. The beet leaves are growing large and luscious. I look forward to a fresh salad with them soon. I implemented branches as a support system so the stem stay upright. You could opt for tomato cages instead.
Join me as we continue the #SeWednesday series, Work with Whatch Got. The talented Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread and Hector Handmade will guide us on how to sew an Upcycled Waistband or Separate Belt using materials we already have in our closets. Follow this link to watch the premiere this Wednesday, July 22 a 6pm EST.
When you’re finished with the tutorial, set your scopes for the skies. July 22 is our last chance to easily catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE for another 6,800 years! Be sure to reach a high vista for the best view. I am waiting for my chance to show the snapshot skills I built in the Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher class we hosted over the weekend. My Nikon is charged and ready, I hope you are as well.
We have a terrific announcement for all aspiring yogis. The Yoga with Elizabeth Moses video series we have hosted online since lock-down is now in person at area parks for the next six Saturdays! Please mark your calendars to travel our coverage area and practice sun salutations in together in nature! July 25 and August 1 are our first park visit. Set your GPS for Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830.
Stay creative and keep in touch until we meet again.
That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!