How’s My Garden in a Bag Doing?

Several types of vegetables grown from topsoil bagsSome veggies love growing in bags of topsoil, but the bag doesn't do much for a garden's beauty. Image: All images in this post by Lisa Kaplan Gordon for HouseLogic

I promised to give an update on my experiment with growing veggies in bags of soil. So here are some photos and tips I’ve learned.

After I stumbled upon a Pinterest picture of growing vegetables in bags of topsoil, I couldn’t wait to try plastic bag gardening in my Northern Virginia plot.

Setting up a garden-in-a-bag couldn’t be easier:

1. Buy a dozen bags of topsoil.

2. Place them in your ungroomed garden, on top of weeds.

3. Cut a few drainage slits in the bottom.

4. Cut out a rectangle hole in the top.

5. Plant seeds and/or seedlings in soil.

    No hoeing, no weeding, no leavening the soil with peat moss. Just plant, water, grow.

    And boy, did many of my vegetables grow. Radishes love the bag.

    Radish

    So do lettuce, zucchini, and peppers.

    Lettuce and peppers

    However, not all plants enjoy life in a bag. My tomatoes are leggy and embarrassed-looking; my basil is yellow with brown spots instead of lush green. I think bag drainage is limited, and tomatoes and basil hate standing around with wet feet.

    Tomatoes

    Basil

    The biggest problem, however, is aesthetic. No matter how much mulch I pour on, it always slides off, exposing the ugly plastic bags, which look like litter.

    On the other hand, I haven’t spent 20 minutes weeding in two months of growing. Which, it turns out, is a mixed blessing. Because without weeding, there’s not much to do in a garden between planting and harvesting.

    Occasionally I toss in a handful of compost, or water the bags with manure tea. Mostly I just inspect the plants each morning, like a general reviewing the troops, and wait for something to happen.

    What do you think? Is the ugly side of gardening in bags worth the time saved weeding? What tips do you have for low-maintenance vegetable gardening?