Say you’d like to get a few pepper plants in the ground, but don’t feel like digging up that part of the back lawn, nor laying down a tarp and waiting for the grass to die off. Plus, you’re busy, and don’t really have time to build a proper raised bed.
No problem, here’s a work-around.
A few bags of good topsoil or potting soil is about all we need to get started. Lay them out in a 2 x 4 or a 3 x 3 grid, and cut some openings in the tops, like so:
Make sure that you don’t cut too close to the corners, otherwise the sides will slump and the soil will want to spill out.
Next, take a nice long screwdriver and poke some holes in the bottom of the bag. We want to have good drainage.
Now, plant what you like: tomatoes, peppers or herbs like basil or oregano.
With tomatoes, determinate varieties (as opposed to indeterminate) that are typically used for container gardening will probably work best. These varieties will grow to a bushy 3 or 4 feet high and can be supported with a simple tomato cage. Typical names are Husky Cherry Red, Golden Nugget and Patio.
After planting, time to mulch:
Here the tomato plants are mulched with wood chips, but we could just as easy use straw or glass clippings. Even easier would be skipping skip this last step, and have our soil dry out faster, stress the plants, and not increase soil fertility at all. No, not mulching just won’t do.
A word about choosing the right brand. The soil in the pictures is a great bargain at less than $2/bag, labeled generic “Top Soil” but really of “potting soil” quality: nice and black and loamy, full of organic matter. Some other brands we’ve picked up just seem to be silt and sand, probably dredged up from a river bed. The most expensive kind is the 2 cubic foot Miracle Gro or other brightly colored and well-marketed brands. These will go anywhere from $5 to $10 per bag, but will generally be good stuff.
So, this will get you started quick. You can lay these bags along a fence line, or pattern them out as you like. At the end of the season, just pull the plastic bags, and go about building up the sides of the raised bed. By that time, the grass under the bags will have been smothered and be long dead (and good riddance, too).
That’s it for today, folks. Hope you enjoyed this little bit of gardening how-to. Get out there and get your hands dirty, it’s good for you.
Note: astute readers will notice that there’s no lawn grass under the bags. This was done at the remote garden, just to see how it would work. I’d long read about this method, and I can now attest to it. Sure, it would be fine to get a few plants started for the season. After the pics were snapped, the soil went into a newly-built raised bed.