Growbags are bags made of fabric or other materials and which are used for the purpose of growing plants after filling them with soil. They have higher drainage capacity compared to plastic or traditional pots.
They allow greater water loss through evaporation and seepage. The soil inside growbags therefore tends to dry out much faster as compared to the soil in plastic pots. Growbags loose much more water in hot climates and also in regions where humidity is low.
Making and sourcing of growbags
Growbags are a viable way of growing plants. You can use them in place of plastic pots particularly if you have limited outdoor space for growing your plants.
You can make your own growbags from fabric material you do not need, or you can choose to purchase some from your local supplier or agricultural store. You will also find them online and in global markets such as Home Depot and Amazon.
Growbags are very ideal for growing your plants as compared to plastic pots. They fare well against rain and wind. They also allow your plants to grow without being stifled.
Highlights on growbags
Growbags are healthier for your plants as compared to plastic pots. They are more portable and are easier to store when not needed. They come in different sizes, allowing you to plant according to the size of your outdoor space.
Their different sizes also allow you to go for what fits the size of plants you want to grow. You can easily clean and reuse your grow bags, more so if the material is of high quality.
Go for thick non-woven fabric that is able to withstand wear, pressure and damage. They will guarantee you many growing seasons before the need to replace them arises.
How to clean your fabric growbags
Start by emptying your growbags fully then leave them outdoors in the sunlight to dry. Use a stick to loosen any hardened material that could be lodged inside. Once done, use a brush to remove as much dirt as you can.
Finally, use a high-pressure nozzle to clean out your growbag of any remaining dirt residue. Ensure no stains are left in the growbag.
Cleaning agents for growbags
Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid into a plastic storage tub or basin. Fill it halfway with water and dissolve the baking soda and dishwashing liquid.
Put in your bags. Ensure they are fully submerged in the solution. If not, add water. Leave them to soak for 20 minutes then wash the bags using a soft bristle brush.
Scrub off any stains on them. Rinse your growbags thoroughly and let them dry out under the sun for 24 hours or more if need be. They must be fully dry before storage to keep away mould and mildew. Once dry, fold them up neatly and store in a cool dry place.
Cleaning agents to avoid
Never use vinegar and baking soda to clean your growbags. This is because when the two mix, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in formation of carbon dioxide and water. The solution then looses its cleaning power. A mixture of baking soda and dishwashing liquid is the most effective for cleaning growbags.
Reusability of growbags
Growbags are reusable only if they are made with non-recyclable material. Recyclable material breaks down easily and quickly.
Handwashing growbags vs machine washing them
Handwashing growbags is recommended vis a vis cleaning them by use of washing machine as this helps them to last longer.
However, if you must machine-wash them, follow the handwashing procedure highlighted above until the point of cleaning them with high pressure nozzle, then put them in your washing machine.
Add cold water and use the same amount of baking soda. Substitute the dishwashing liquid with a mild laundry detergent then use the most gentle cleaning cycle possible.
Drying growbags after cleaning
Drying growbags during cold or rainy seasons is challenging and may therefore necessitate the use of a drying machine for the purpose.
Use one only if you cannot wait to clean them during the hot season or if you do not have an indoor area that gets plenty of air circulation for use in drying.
A dryer shortens the life of your growbags by prematurely breaking down the non-woven fabric. Hang your growbags indoors away from humid areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. It will take much longer to dry them but it will be worth it.
Disinfecting of growbags
If your plants had been infected by fungi or had any disease, your growbags may have been infected as well, posing a risk to any plants you may want to grow afterwards.
Wash your bags normally as per the foregoing instructions, then prior to putting them out to dry, soak them for 20 minutes in a solution of ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide to 1 quart of water.
Rinse them thoroughly and put them out to dry. Once completely dry, fold and store them appropriately.
Alternatives to cleaning growbags
If you choose not to clean your growbags after a growing season, you can leave them outdoors in a dry place without causing them significant damage. You can then use them to grow cover crops.
Cover crops will in return enrich your soil by making it fertile, leading to healthier plants and greater productivity during the subsequent growing season.
Impact of plastic pots
Plastic pots are non-porous which helps to conserve moisture. If you are the kind of person who keeps forgetting to water your plants, then plastic pots will be a better and safer option for you.
However, due to their non-breathable nature, they tend to retain and trap heat which then damages the root system of your plants. Plastic pots also hinder aeration of the soil, thus impeding the proper growth of your plants.
They also remain for hundreds of years in landfills leading to pollution of soils and the ecosystems and negatively impacting entire communities.