It’s hard to miss that our gardening culture is changing. Where once we would till the soil, get dirty and possibly sweat after a gardening workout, we have exchanged this for a hobby that is fast becoming sterile and comfortable. One indicator of this shift is the grow bags phenomena.
What are Grow Bags?
Predominantly, they’re made from poly plastic although there has been a shift to more eco-friendly alternatives. We may have already used them to pot up trees and small shrubs as a substitute for a plastic pot, but the real trend starter is the grow-in-a-bag, grow bags.
We’ve all seen the upside-down tomato planter where you suspend the grow bag from your patio and the plants grow from the bottom upwards. And the trend hasn’t stopped here. Now you can buy grow bags that accept your flowering plants as well and may even seem a better way to plant.
What are the Advantages of Grow Bags?
- More growing space – the traditional container planters have the ability to only grow from the top of the soil, vertically. Grow bags can grow all around the bag allowing you to display more plants.
- Less mess – grow bags can come prepped with all the organic material you need. Just add plants, water and voila! You have an instant garden.
- Inexpensive – these products are relatively cheap and compared to buying your own hanging baskets or container planters the set-up costs are minimal. (or, you can make your own hanging baskets if you have the time.)
- More planting options – Europeans have been growing plants via grow bags for aeons. They mainly grow them horizontally as a poor-man’s pot plant but now the trend has been to use grow bags vertically. This allows more options for where you locate your plants.
- Ease and convenience – any homeowner could start growing plants quite successfully with a grow bag. Kits are available that take all the guesswork out of planting and may actually be a good starter for novice gardeners.
What are the Disadvantages of Grow Bags?
- Dumbing down gardeners – if you weigh up all the advantages of grow bags it’s hard to see any negatives but my concern is that we are breeding a McDonald’s culture of gardening enthusiasts. One where if it can’t be finished in 45 seconds then it’s probably not worth doing it.
- Environmentally irresponsible – as many grow bags are constructed from poly plastics they don’t break down and many can’t, or won’t, be recycled. Admittedly there are more eco-friendly options becoming available but they’re a more expensive proposition and people will often tend for cheap over environmental concerns.
While grow bags may be a growing phenomenon there is some cause for concern. They definitely have a place in our gardening worlds but we should be wary that they may just be another Garden by numbers trend. So, are they a useful product or do you snub your nose at them too?