I want to grow vegetables in my balcony and one of the options I have is to use grow bags. This post contains my research about grow bags and their cost.
Grow bags can cost from $10 to $50 depending on the size, material, manufacturer, and quality. You can get grow bags for free if you reuse plastic or compost bags lying around. Or you can make your own grow bags using material like landscape fabric.
The price you will pay for the grow bags depends on many factors that I have written about in detail below.
You can get a grow bag that measures 1 gallon to 100 gallons. So the price will depend on your needs. You can even get grow bags that can hold 1000 gallons and replace a complete raised bed.
You can get grow bags made with materials like plastic and fabric. The plastic ones are cheaper than the fabric ones but are less durable. You could even use plastic bags lying around at home
But these grow bags may just last 2-3 growing seasons before you need to replace them.
The fabric ones are more durable and can last for at least 4-5 years. They may last even longer if you take good care of them and store them when not in use.
There are many companies that are manufacturing grow bags. Some of them may be cheaper but the quality might be suspect. So always go with some recognized brands to get the most out of the grow bags.
There are some brands that you can trust for buying your grow bags. Some of them include VIVOSUN, Gardener’s Supply, Winner Outfitters, and JERIA.
The price of your grow bags will depend a lot on the quality. You don’t want your grow bags to be torn apart in just 1-2 growing seasons.
That’s why it’s good to invest in a good-quality grow bag that will last for a long time while allowing the best growing environment for your plants.
What are some of the best grow bags?
Here is a list of some good fabric grow bags and their cost.
|Grow Bag Name||Size Available (Gallons)||Price|
|Winner Outfitters 6-Pack||3, 5, 7, 10||$24.99 (for 10 gallons)|
|VIVOSUN 5-Pack||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30||$27.99 (for 10 gallons)|
|247Garden 5-Pack||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40+||$11.5 (for 10 gallons)|
|Plantmate 5-Pack||5, 10||$23.46 (for 10 gallons)|
|Gardener’s Best||5, 12, 30||$18.95 (for 12 gallons)|
|Honest Outfitters 5-Pack||3, 7, 10, 15||$18.99 (for 10 gallons)|
|Gardener’s Edge 5-Pack||3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30||$36.95 (for 10 gallons)|
|HTG Supply 5-Pack||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 45, 65||$39.75 (for 10 gallons)|
|Spring Pot 5-Pack||2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15||$54.75 (for 10 gallons)|
How to choose a grow bag?
You want to choose a grow bag that is suitable for the plants you want to grow and the place you have.
I would suggest choosing a fabric grow bag rather than a plastic one. The fabric grow bag is made from polypropylene felt-like material that lasts longer.
If you do choose a plastic one, make sure it’s BPA-free, and food-safe if you’re going to grow vegetables and fruits in it.
Pick a grow bag based on the plants you want to grow in it. If you’re growing fruiting plants like tomatoes or peppers, you will need a grow bag that is at least 15-25 gallons.
If you’re growing herbs, you don’t need a deep grow bag but it should be wide enough to hold the plants. You would need a deep grow bag in case you want to grow root vegetables like carrots, radishes, and beets in them.
A grow bag is not the most aesthetic container you will find for your plants. But you do get a choice in the type of fabric and the color of the grow bag.
If you’re growing potatoes, you can get grow bags with a flap near the bottom. This feature helps you harvest the potatoes without digging out the whole plant.
If you’re growing root vegetables, you can get grow bags that are tall and skinny. If you’re trying out square-foot gardening, you can get a 4×4-inch grow bag that is 12 inches deep and can hold 120 gallons.
You can also get small grow bags that come with Velcro closures you can remove. This helps you to start seeds in them and remove the seedlings when you need to transplant.
Some grow bags come with sturdy handles you can hold while moving them from one place to another.
I would suggest buying a grow bag that is of the highest quality. You may have to pay a higher price but this grow bag will last longer.
It will be durable and protect your plants from the harsh sunlight and wind. It will be made with material that protects your plants from over-watering and helps with air pruning the roots.
The price of the grow bags should be the last thing you should consider when buying the. I think the fabric grow bags are not too expensive and worth the plants you’ll grow in them.
But if you’re on a really strict budget, you can look at some plastic grow bag options. You could even reuse some plastic or compost bags lying around at home. Or make your own grow bags from material like landscape fabric.
How to make your own grow bag?
If you’re short on time (or just lazy) you can use a thick plastic bag as your grow bag. This could be a bag you bought your compost in. Or it could be a bag that came with your groceries.
Just make sure to clean the bag well before use. You can wash it with water and leave it to dry.
If you want to make a really good quality fabric grow bag, the video below shows a step-by-step tutorial. This shows how to make a 1 gallon grow bag but you can adjust the material and create the size you need.
- Thick black landscape fabric sheet
- Sewing machine
- Outdoor thread
- Measuring scale
- White pencil for marking
- For a 1-gallon grow bag, you will get a 6-inch height x 6-inch width x 8-inch volume. You need to cut out a piece of landscape fabric that is 12-inches x 24-inches.
- You should create a 1/4th-inch seam at one end of the fabric material. This will form a thick top of the grow bag. You can hold this seam in place with clips. Now use the sewing machine to sew the 1/4th-inch seam in place.
- Fold the fabric material such that the seam is on the outside and visible. Sew the remaining three sides leaving about 1/4th inch as a border. Now you should have a pocket with one opening.
- We need to create a 6-inch base for our grow bag. Make a 3-inch x 3-inch square with the pencil at the opposite side of the pocket from where the opening is.
- Make a flap as shown in the video such that it’s 6-inches across. You can mark this using the measuring scale and pencil. Now use the sewing machine to sew these flaps and cut the unwanted portions.
- Now you can turn the bag inside out and you will have a good-looking 1-gallon grow bag.
How to make your grow bags last longer?
Grow bags need to be cared for like you would for your container pots. Before using the grow bags, make sure to wash them well.
You can use a mix of 1 parts bleach to 9 parts water and soak the grow bags in it. This will sterilize the grow bag and get rid of pests and diseases.
You can then rinse the grow bag well with water and air dry it well before using it.
When using the grow bags, make sure you don’t drag them on a rough surface. This will cause the bags to tear from the bottom.
You can instead place a plastic or metal sheet beneath the grow bags and move those around. You could even place the grow bags on a moving tray and move them to the required location.
When the growing season ends and you’re done with the grow bag, empty the potting soil and repeat the same process.
If the grow bags show signs of wear and tear, you may think about fixing it. If you have some thick landscape fabric, you can cut a piece and patch the tear.
Store the dried-out grow bags in a cool, dry place where pests cannot reach it.
How do you use a grow bag?
You can use a grow bag similar to using a pot but there are some differences you need to be aware of.
- Make sure the bag is clean and free from leftover soil. You don’t want pests and diseases attacking your plants. You can clean the grow bag with water and dry it well before use.
- You need to choose a grow bag that is suitable for the plants you want to grow. Plants with a shallow root system like herbs, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants do well in a grow bag.
- You can also plant root vegetables in the grow bag but you need to pick one that is deep enough for the roots to grow.
- If the grow bags, whether fabric or plastic, do not have drainage holes at the bottom, you can make some yourself with a pair of scissors. Keep the drainage holes about an inch apart from each other.
- You want to add a 1-inch layer of pebbles at the bottom of the grow bag to help with the drainage of excess water.
- Fill the grow bag with a good potting mix. You can buy one from the store or mix one yourself with a mixture of 1/3rd organic compost, 1/3rd peat moss, and 1/3rd vermiculite.
- Gently move the grow bag and fluff it up like a pillow to allow the potting soil to settle well into the bag. Keep adding the potting soil till it fills up the grow bag and there is a couple of inches of space left from the top.
- If you’re growing from seeds, you can start planting the seeds into the potting soil. If you’re transplanting a seedling, you need to scoop out some of the potting soil. There should be sufficient space for the plant that you want to place in the grow bag.
- Now take the plant out of the pot it came with and place the root ball into the hole you just scooped out in the grow bag.
- Use the soil you had scooped out to cover the root ball and the base of the plant so it’s not exposing the roots.
- If you are growing plants like tomatoes or beans that need support, you can place a stake into the grow bag or in the ground next to it.
- Water the potting soil well so the water drains out of the bottom. You will need to water the grow bag often, whether it’s plastic or fabric. The plastic bags can get hot with the sunlight and dry out the soil. The fabric grow bags are porous and lose water fast due to evaporation.
What are the pros and cons of a grow bag?
You get some benefits when using grow bags for your plants.
Alternative to pots
A grow bag is a good alternative to containers like pots. If you’re looking to create a container garden, then grow bags are a good choice for growing the plants.
Alternative to raised beds
Maybe you live in an area that has poor soil conditions. The soil might have too much clay or sand. So you can’t grow plants in the soil without amending it.
You’ll need to use good-quality compost for this. or you may need to build a raised-bed garden using the right mix of compost and soil.
You can, instead, build a garden using grow bags to grow the plants. This will be a lot cheaper and faster.
Simple to use
It’s an easy task to grow your plants in a grow bag. You just need to choose the right grow bag suitable for the plant, fill it with good potting soil, plant the seed or seedling and take care of the growing plant.
One benefit of using a grow bag is that it has good drainage when the material used is fabric. This material is porous so even if you over-water the plant, the excess water will seep out of the pores and evaporate.
This will also regulate the temperature of the soil keeping it cool and moist for your plants.
Benefit of air pruning
When you grow plants in pots, you need to ensure the size of the pot is 1-2 times larger than the size of the plant. If the plant grows larger than the pot, it will become root-bound.
This means the roots will not find a place to grow in the pot and will circle in the available space. This causes problems of lack of moisture and nutrients for the plant.
You don’t get this problem when growing in a fabric grow bag. This is because the plant’s roots can detect there’s no more growing space due to the evaporation and dryness they can feel at the fabric wall.
Easy to store
It’s winter-time and you’re done with your outdoor container garden. If you’re using pots, you need to clean them out and store them away. You need to put them in the attic, basement, or a shed. They take up space and make your house look ugly.
You don’t have that problem when using grow bags. You can take out the potting soil and dispose of it. Wash the grow bags well with water and let them dry out. You can then fold them up and store them in a cool, dry place for the next growing season.
There are some disadvantages when you use grow bags for your container plants.
Not as durable as pots
Containers like pots are a lot more durable than grow bags especially if you move them around. Plastic grow bags are fragile and tear easily.
If you’re using fabric grow bags, they will last you as long as you take care of them. But when trying to move them around you need to be careful. The base of the grow bag can tear due to the friction.
You also need to follow the right procedure when washing the grow bags for storage or reuse. Otherwise, you may end up tearing through the material.
Can turn into a recurring cost
Grow bags can become a recurring cost if you don’t take care of them. A container will last you a long time but grow bags need to be maintained.
The plastic grow bags are not durable which means you’ll need to buy them again after 1-2 growing seasons.
The fabric grow bags are a lot more durable than plastic ones and can last several years. But you need to take good care of them when in use and after storing them away.
You don’t get much choice
You can get pots made from different materials like plastic, terracotta, ceramic, metal, and concrete. This helps you get different colors and design patterns available on some of them. You can choose the pots suitable for your container garden based on their appeal.
You don’t get a lot of choices when using grow bags. The plastic grow bags may be in a simple color like black or gray. And the fabric ones will have some texture but limited to a particular color like black or gray as well.
They might not be sustainable
You need to be careful when choosing grow bags for your garden. Some of the grow bags will be sustainable and Eco-friendly so they can be recycled.
But there could be several types of grow bags especially plastic ones that won’t be and may end up in the landfills.
They need a lot of water
The benefit of using fabric grow bags is that they are porous. This helps prevent over-watering as the excess water evaporates.
But this could also be a problem because the potting soil will dry out much faster than it would in a container. You need to be vigilant to ensure the plants are getting the required moisture in a grow bag.
You could use plastic grow bags that are not porous and hold moisture for a longer time. But make sure they have drainage holes at the bottom to drain out the excess water.
They might not be mobile enough
You might think grow bags are light and it should be easy to move them around. This is true for the smaller ones. But if the grow bags hold several 100 gallons it can be a challenge.
Trying to move such large grow bags will end up tearing them up. It’s much easier with containers that you can place on a rolling stand and move them around.