When we moved to England eleven years ago, we thought we were only going to be staying for a little less than a year, so we never bought a house. If we could have known that it’d be over eight years before we’d be back in the US, we might have done things differently. But, we didn’t. . .so we rented the entire time we lived there. Unfortunately, most rentals don’t take kindly to you tearing up their lawns or landscaping to put in vegetable gardens. But I wanted to grow my own produce!!
So what was this Practical Pioneer to do?
I mean, I had just come from the land of long growing seasons and prolific harvests! My springs and summers were spent feasting on fresh, vine ripened produce and my autumns were spent canning and dehydrating and preserving that bounty for all winter and spring.
So how was I to handle living on a tiny island (England is less than 1/3 the size of California!) with drizzly, cool, short summers? I was pretty bummed.
But then someone pointed me toward ‘Gro-bags’ in the local garden center. They’re a simple concept, really. Basically they’re just plastic bags of growing medium (a big longer and flatter than our bags of potting soil or compost). Depending on the size of the gro-bag, you either make two or three X shaped slits in the top of the bag and plant veggies right in the bag. Things like cucumbers and zucchini work particularly well, but you can grow most ‘above ground’ produce from lettuce to peppers, too.
The benefits of gro-bag gardening are manifold: you can put them anywhere, even on a small balcony. If you place them on a concrete or stone patio, the residual heat in the stone will keep the bags warmer in the night, which the plants love in cooler climes. Plus, once the season is over, the bags can be stacked out of the way in readiness for the next year’s season.
This is what a Gro-bag looks like:
If you have a proper frame, you can even grow things like tomatoes and beans!
Growbags like these are hard to find in the US, but there’s a great alternative. Also called Grow Bags, these are simply reinforced bags that hold a growing medium you add to it. sort of like a clothish pot or raised bed. They come in all shapes, but can look like this:
I’m going to do a bit of a hybrid garden in my make-shift poly tunnel this year. . .I’ll have a simple raised bed, some stuff in large pots, and I’m going to see if using bags of good quality potting soil will work the same as gro-bags did in England.
I have no idea if it will work, but it should be fun trying!
(photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)