By C.L. Fornari
C.L. is a writer, professional speaker, radio host, and joyously out-of-control plant person who believes gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do. She’s dedicated to getting others excited and into their gardens.
July 10, 2014
“Imagine this: you can grow vegetables anywhere. On the edge of a flower garden or driveway, an existing lawn, or even a rooftop! That’s what I’ve learned from planting in Smart Pots myself, and seeing how others use them as well. Smart Pots have absolutely become one of my “must-have” garden products.
As backyard gardeners and plant geeks, my husband and I have found that Smart Pots are versatile and easy to use. Not only do they allow us to successfully grow plants in a variety of locations, but the plants do really well. In fact, we’ve found that our potato crop is larger and easier to harvest when grown in Smart Pots. No more cutting into the potatoes with a shovel, or guessing where they are!
When you plant something in a traditional plastic pot the roots grow until they hit the sides, and then they circle around and around on the perimeter. Ultimately those roots form a mass that circles against the pot. But when you grow plants in Smart Pots, the roots stop before they get to the fabric…in essence, they are being “air pruned.” This ends up developing root systems that are dense but still in contact with the soil, where all the action is.
Like most other gardeners, we’re always looking for easier and better ways to grow our vegetables. We tend to have cool springs where I live and we find that the black Smart Pots help heat-loving plants such as eggplant to get going faster. Similarly, when we put a fall crop in a Smart Pot that’s been emptied of potatoes, it grows faster and ripens sooner than plants that are put into the ground.
We place our Smart Pots on the edge of the cutting garden, on the driveway, and anywhere else there’s a sunny spot. I’ve even seen large gardens on city rooftops that were made completely out of Smart Pots! My husband and I put three or four of them in bins and grow salad greens in our solar-heated shed all winter as well.
I also use Smart Pots for lining containers such as urns and large troughs. This allows me to pull out the liner in the fall and overwinter tender or tropical plants in a sheltered location if I choose. It also prevents the roots from growing into a layer of “filler” (such as bark mulch or upside down flower pots) at the bottom of large containers and this makes for healthier plants.
I’ve blogged about how we used Smart Pots for the past three years. To see those posts, and this product in action, write “Smart Pots” in the search box at http://wholelifegardening.com or http://coffeeforroses.com
All the best from my garden to yours,”
Smart Idea For “Smart Pots”
By Phyllis Gricus
Phyllis Gricus is the principal of Landscape Design Studio, in Pittsburgh, PA, A firm dedicated to creating sustainable and imaginative gardens for all seasons.
“One of the biggest challenges faced by most gardeners is how to successfully plant under mature trees, while still preserving the tree’s health. We love our trees, and we love all the plants we can get our dirty-under-the fingernail hands on to plant in every square inch of our spot of Eden. OK, maybe you’re not as obsessed as I am. But are you not excited by grass under your trees? Do you desire more space for an interesting and layered plant palette? The answer its right under your trees!
Using “Smart Pots”, I’ve had long term-success gardening under trees. I have a magnificent red oak tree in my small, urban backyard. If I didn’t plant under it, I’d have half the garden I have today. When I came to live with my oak tree, it was under-planted with an abundant crop of pachysandra and one rhododendron. Before moving to this garden, I had been keeping two coveted trees, an “Autumn Moon” Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’), and “Seven Sons” tree (Heptacodium miconoides) in Smart Pots for about a year, anticipating planting them in my new garden near the oak tree.
Everywhere I tried to dig, I struck roots. Even with tap-rooted trees such as oaks the majority of the roots are located in the top twelve inches. Feeling frustrated and defeated, I left the plants in their “Smart Pots” where I had planned to place them. And there they sat – for two years. (OK, OK. I got busy!)
Then one day It occurred to me. Tucked into the pachysandra, the pots were barely noticeable. They looked good there. Growing and flourishing through all the seasons, with little care but occasional watering.
Hey (light bulb!), maybe I could put more plants I wanted in ‘Smart Pots” and “plant” them around the base of the tree to get the garden style I truly wanted. So I did. I planted more shrubs, (plants with larger root systems) in “Smart Pots” and placed them among lower-growing perennials that can grow cozily in the ground in just the top few inches of soil. Now I was able to give the visual illusion that everything is planted in the ground, in the shade and both the plants in the “Smart Pots” and my great oak tree were able to exist harmoniously.
What a smart idea! Now it’s yours, too.”
By Kerry Michaels – writer, photographer, award-winning documentarist, and fanatic container gardener
Kerry has extensively written about diverse topics – from country decorating to serial killers. She photographed Growing the Northeast Garden, and was Garden Editor for the James Beard Award-Winning magazine, ChopChop. She was head writer and producer of a CD-Rom, Country Living Style. She has written for Discovery Channel, Small Gardens, A&E, Weekly Reader, Disney and Sesame Workshop. Kerry co-produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary, River of Steel.
June 23, 2014
“I sometimes call myself a Smart Pot evangelist because of my unbridled enthusiasm for these fabulous fabric pots. I find myself telling everyone who will listen how cool they are. I started using Smart Pots about five years ago and my zeal has only grown, as most of my original Smart Pots are still going strong – some after year-round use in Maine.
I have found that every plant I’ve tried has thrived in a Smart Pot—my plants just seem to love them. Also, after many years of lugging heavy ceramic pots and trying to find winter storage for them, the ease of storing my Smart Pots, has made my fall cleanup so much easier. To store my feather-weight Smart Pots, I wash and dry them, fold them up, and stick them in a box.
I am an extreme container gardener, often planting over 100 pots of varying sizes and types each year. I grow vegetables, greens, perennials, and edible flowers, as well as lots of ornamentals in a multitude of container types—from stilettoes to straw bales to classic terracotta pots. I also grow in many Smart Pots, from the smallest to the Big Bag Bed and love them all, though I find the larger sizes are easier for keeping plants adequately hydrated.
I have grown potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, herbs, salad greens, tomatoes as well as annual and edible flowers in Smart Pots. For years I tried growing rhubarb in all kinds of containers and in the ground-–mass murdering plant after plant until I became convinced that I was the only person in New England who couldn’t grow rhubarb. Then I decided to try growing one in a Smart Pot. Four years later, the plant and pot are still going strong.
While I love the simple urban-chic look of the look of Smart Pots, I’ve also had some fun finding ways to dress them up. One of my favorite things to do is to cut a series of Xs in a zigzag pattern around the equator of the pot and side-plant pretty lettuces and edible flowers. I’ve also put the pots in brightly colored plastic laundry baskets, which look great while keeping the advantages of the fabric pots.
I have seen Smart Pots used in all kinds of imaginative ways, including an edible tower, starting with a Big Bag Bed on the bottom. This was filled with soil and then a smaller bag was placed on it and then more layers added in graduated sizes. The tower was filled with greens, nasturtiums, tomatoes and even corn, creating a large and impressive garden, with lots of square feet of vertical growing area, using a relatively small footprint.
From beginner gardeners to experts, Smart Pots provide a great, inexpensive, smart way to grow.”
“The Big Bag Bed is just so simple, simple, simple.
Although our home sits on a half-acre lot, my husband and I have little good gardening space without digging up large roots and heavily tilling the soil. And as seniors, the cost of equipment, materials and the labor intensity needed for other raised bed options that I found just didn’t seem a good fit for us either. It was a frustrating situation.
But then I found the Big Bag Bed and ordered a couple from the website, which turned out to be a simple and quick process. They kept me updated with emails from the moment of purchase through to delivery. Something that’s important to me when ordering online.
And it was simple to work in and around. All you do is unfold it, fill it with dirt and plants or whatever you want. I grew beautiful vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and arugula. And there were NO WEEDS!
Seeing no signs of decay or fraying I expect to be enjoying our Big Bag Beds for years to come. They’ve been so great I ordered a 3rd one for the hummingbird and butterfly plants.
I think High Caliper deserves an award for the design and development of these Big Bag Beds. I certainly recommend them!”
– Jerre Gulino, home gardening enthusiast, Sunset, LA
“The Big Bag Bed just works. It’s that simple.
Our other raised bed gardens took a lot of work. The New England soil is rocky and hard. This year we wanted more room for growing vegetables, and the Big Bag Bed made the whole process extremely easy.
I LOVE that we didn’t have to dig up anything! It’s like an instant garden, easy to work with, and even helped with the water retention, which was a pleasant surprise for our hot summer. I grew tomatoes and squash, and it did everything I hoped it would do. The beauty is it allows you to use those prime growing areas based on the amount of sunlight, even when the yard changes over time, because you can just stick your bag right on the spot, and move it easily when needed. It’s just so convenient and can go anywhere.
And when it held up perfectly even after I accidently hit it with the weed wacker, I knew I had bought a great product with satisfaction.
To get yourself a garden at this price and be able to throw seeds in it or plants and to feed yourself and your family; that’s a great feeling.
I ABSOLUTELY recommend the Big Bag Bed to anyone with an interest to garden, even if you’re in an apartment, hi-rise, or condo, and have already recommended it to my friends and family. I’m just so pleased with the product and the whole experience.”
– M.B. Griffin, Avid Gardener, Guilford, CT
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