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How to Plant a Quick and Easy Garden in Bags of Soil Without Digging

In addition to being a certified herbalist and aromatherapy consultant, Gina finds the unrelenting allure of gardening very strong.

Peppers, Swiss Chard, Watermelon, and Various Herbs Planted in Bags of Soil and Framed by an Old Bed Frame

Peppers, Swiss Chard, Watermelon, and Various Herbs Planted in Bags of Soil and Framed by an Old Bed Frame

I May Have Found the Easiest Way Ever to Plant Vegetables

Considering that most gardeners don't have perfect soil, vegetable garden preparation requires tilling the soil, removing weeds, and adding fertilizer and organic matter. However, growing vegetables in bags of potting soil eliminates all this preparation work.

Instead of doing a lot of backbreaking work, you simply:

  1. Purchase bags of potting/vegetable/planting soil.
  2. Place them flat on top of wet newspaper or right on the ground in your yard or balcony.
  3. Poke some holes in the bottom for drainage.
  4. Cut off the top of the bag, leaving a 2-inch border.
  5. Plant your vegetables right in the bag!
Plant your seedlings.

Plant your seedlings.

The Benefits of Growing Directly in Bags of Soil

  • It's quick, easy and convenient because there's no digging
  • A great way to grow vegetables for those who have busy schedules
  • Great for those with limited garden space
  • Great for those in apartments
  • Great for teaching children to garden
  • Great for those with poor soil
  • Convenient because bagged potting soil is pasteurized to kill weed seeds
  • Makes weeding a breeze
  • Convenient because you can plant seeds right into the soil
  • Topsoil bags will smother the grass underneath
  • Bags eliminate seedling-killing cutworms
  • This method is weeds-free (or very few weeds)
  • You can get started on bag gardening in no time. At the end of the growing season, you can gather up the plastic bags and work their contents into permanent beds, or just lay down a new batch of bags.

In addition to the above-mentioned reasons to garden this way, the bag-garden can be created on a raised surface (such as a table) with drainage holes. This is great if you have a chronic illness and trouble with bending, limited mobility or limited range of motion.

Gather Your Materials

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver or something to punch drainage holes
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Fertilizer
  • Seeds or seedlings
  • Bags of top soil
  • Mulch (optional)
Make sure your bag is in an area where it gets the required light. Make a trellis, if necessary.

Make sure your bag is in an area where it gets the required light. Make a trellis, if necessary.

A Quick Overview of the Steps

  1. Choose your soil.
  2. Place the bag in a sunny location, or the appropriate location for your garden.
  3. Put some drainage holes in the bottom of the bags.
  4. Cut the opening in the top of the bag.
  5. Plant your seeds or seedling.

A Step-By-Step Walkthrough

Step 1. Choose your soil.

Choose whatever floats your boat. Some plants do better in different kinds of soil. Ordinary bagged “topsoil” or inexpensive “tree and shrub planting mix” will do quite nicely.

Use a screwdriver to punch some holes. Plant roots will use these holes to grow down into the soil below the bags and to allow for drainage.

Use a screwdriver to punch some holes. Plant roots will use these holes to grow down into the soil below the bags and to allow for drainage.

Step 2. Poke Drainage Holes

Poke drainage holes in the bottom of the bag.

Step 3. Find a nice, sunny spot.

Sun is important for plants to grow.

Leave a two inch border to keep the soil supported on all sides.

Leave a two inch border to keep the soil supported on all sides.

Step 4. Cut out a window.

Use a utility knife to cut out a large, rectangular window on the upper surface of each bag.

Break up the soil and water it before planting.

Break up the soil and water it before planting.

Step 5. Break up the soil and plant.

Break up and wet the soil, then plant the seeds or seedlings.

Step 6. Select your plants.

Get the plants you wish to grow—either as seedlings or seeds. Then get started!

I started these green beans in recycled egg cartons.

I started these green beans in recycled egg cartons.

Snow peas.

Snow peas.

What Should I Plant?

Any plant that does well in large containers will do well in a garden soil bag.

What Can I Grow in Soil Bags?

  • cherry tomatoes
  • bush beans
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • kale
  • squash
  • cucumbers
  • kohlrabi
  • Swiss chard
  • and literally any plant that doesn’t require deep rooting.
Small holes are cut into the bags for each seedling.

Small holes are cut into the bags for each seedling.

I planted celery, fennel, romaine lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy in cored concrete blocks.

I planted celery, fennel, romaine lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy in cored concrete blocks.

How Can I Grow a Deep-Rooting Plant in a Bag of Soil?

  • Stand potting soil bags upright to plant deep-rooted plants such as tomatoes.
  • Limit the plants to one plant per bag.
  • Push 1/4-inch dowel rods or other support beams into the potting soil without puncturing the bag, leaving 3 to 4 feet of rod sticking out of the bag to stake tomato plants.
  • If you have trouble setting the bags upright, use thicker stakes and push them through the bag and at least 1 foot deep in the soil to hold the bag in place while providing stakes for the plants.

© 2017 Gina Welds Hulse

Comments

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 19, 2017:

This is brilliant, Gina! I love all the different containers you use for your garden. The potting soil bag method seems ideal for all the reasons you state in this article.

Great information!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 27, 2017:

This is a totally new concept for planting. I have used egg cartons but never soil bags. Thanks for sharing...

Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on May 23, 2017:

This is a great idea, especially for people who live in places where the soil is contaminated. A few years ago the EPA did a cleanup in my neighborhood (which has had heavy industrial use), but before that I was limited to container gardening for my food. I wish I'd had this tip back then!

S Maree on May 22, 2017:

Thank you! That sounds like a great idea!

Gina Welds Hulse (author) from Rockledge, Florida on May 20, 2017:

S Maree, I guess you're referring to garden cress and not watercress. Garden cress is a cool weather crop, so it should be planted in early Spring, as early as 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Cress is quick growing from seed; it will be ready for harvest 15 to 20 days after sowing. Sow successive crops until mid summer. Sow cress again in early autumn for autumn and winter harvest. If you grow cress in the bags do not put too many holes in for drainage, as cress thrive in damp soil. Do not let the soil dry out. Hope that helps.

S Maree on May 20, 2017:

Thank you for these great ideas! I have cinder blocks that need a purpose. Lettuce & chard sounds very nice! Any ideas about cress? Thank you!

Amos DM Mashigo from 2783 Dakota Street Evaton West 1984 on May 19, 2017:

Planting in bags is indeed a great idea that never came to my mind before. I am really thankful for this wonderful piece of advice.

I will indeed start growing my veggies using this system which would be quite beneficial to me in our area where weeds are a big problem to gardening.