Posted on 17 April 2009 by

Growing Tomatoes in Potting Soil Bags

tomato-bagBy Vanessa Richins

Perhaps you don’t have access to a tiller to prepare your vegetable bed, or time to till.

Maybe you live in a place without much land to begin with.

One way you can still grow tomatoes is simply by planting them straight into the soil bag.

Soil bags work well because you can just place them on top of your garden – no tilling and amending needed. In fact, at the end of the season, you can take your tomato plant out and spread the potting soil over your garden area to help make the existing soil better for later planting.

1) Start by buying your potting soil carefully. Since tomatoes like to have deep roots, pick a bag that is thicker, like the 3 cu. feet ones.

2) Next, take a screwdriver or pair of scissors and make some holes in the bottom for drainage.

3) Flip the bag over and use scissors or a box cutter to remove most of the top plastic.

4) If starting seeds, take a thin layer of soil off, plant a few seeds, then lightly cover with the soil you removed. You will eventually want to have just one plant per bag for optimal root space.

5) Make a hole and place your tomato plant. Tamp the soil gently around it and you are set to go.

6) You can place mulch on top of the soil to help add nutrients, keep the soil temperature more even, and keep weeds down.

Have you ever grown plants directly in the potting soil bag?

8 Responses to “Growing Tomatoes in Potting Soil Bags”

  1. Jack Etsweiler Says:

    We started growing heirloom tomatoes in bags to avoid the tomato blight in the soil in our raised beds. Once the roots work their way down and out the drainage slits into the soil beneath, the blight is pulled up by the roots into the before-then uncontaminated plants. I suggest putting the bags onto heavy plastic to avoid this problem. It might be a way to conserve water as well. Suggestions? Solutions?

  2. Stacy Says:

    So very trying this, thanks for the tip.

  3. MinervasGardenWriter Says:

    For Jack E.–don’t put any drainage holes in the bags of soil at all. When I am doing hanging baskets, for example, I actually line the baskets with burlap, which I then line with solid plastic visqueen. Then fill it with dirt and plant. It’s a myth about containers needing drainage holes–what happens is that you can’t keep the things watered properly because all the water drains out of them, and they always dry out way too rapidly in the summertime. The same should apply to your tomatoes growing in bags of potting soil. You just have to be careful when watering to not overflow the thing, and you’ll be fine.

  4. marcus Says:

    I have planted some tomatoes in soil bags, I used 3cu’ soil bags.. this is the best start to tomatoes I have ever had the soil bags are blowing away the topsy. I put some holes in the bottom of the bags cut away most of the plastic on but left about 1″ 1/2 around the eadge and placed three plants per bag I think two would have been smarter but these plants are doing great!! I placed bags on slats and placed the plants on my roof!

  5. More on Gardening « Says:

    […] rectangle planter.  We are planning on growing lettuce for Elvi and me in these.  Heck, you can grow plants right out of a bag of potting soil if you want to be really lazy about it.  Although we of course can’t grow all of our food […]

  6. Ron Leiss Says:

    I have grown hierloom tomatoes in 18 gallon plastic shipping containers the last two year. I have had pretty good success, but not great. This year I bought some 5-5-5 tomato fertilizer and some bone meal. My question is the potting soil I bought has 14% nitrogen. Is this to high?
    Should I mxx the potting soil with something else. I noticed the plants start out strong and the turn yellow towards the middle to end of fruiting. I had better results, last year as I used a drip system to keep the watering steady. This kept the plants from being soaked, draining and then drying out. Very little fruit had splits. I have to do herilooms the flavors are unbeleivable. Thanks Tomato Nut!

  7. Bob Smith Says:

    I just finished planting tomatoes, and peppers in a storage container and some hanging baskets.
    I am getting tired of the digging and looking at trying different growing methods. Funny thing, I was looking at the bags of potting soil and thinking, why not plant right into the bag. I never thought of drainage holes and I would like to keep them up off the ground on plastic tables we have.

    I wonder will there beb enough space in the bag of potting soil for the roots to thrive? Maybe one plant per bag or two?

  8. Lisa Says:

    If you turn the bag of soil upright, it gives the tomatoes more room for their roots. Put a 6-foot pole in the bag before you transplant the tomato plant and you have something to stake it to when it gets bigger. 🙂

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