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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Making Grow Bags From Weed Stop Fabric

Today was a lousy day, weather-wise, so it was a good day to finish a job that needed doing: I sewed together nineteen grow bags for my seed potatoes from weed stop fabric that I purchased from Amazon. I wasn't up for the hand-sewing marathon that it would be and I really wanted to get them done, so I dragged out my sewing machine, set it up at the dining room table and then started cutting weed stop fabric.

If you decide to do this, make sure you get a fabric that's woven, and not one that looks like fusible lining.  The stuff they use under the pots at a real nursery is ideal, but the stuff I got from Amazon worked fine as well.  It was three feet by one hundred feet, and I cut it in fifty-inch lengths, so it made a total of twenty-four grow bags.  $55.86 seems like a lot of cash to outlay, but that works out to $2.33 a grow bag, and that's a whole lot less than what I was able to find them for online.  This is just an example.  The fabric I bought is also warranted for twenty-years, and while I think my use kind of voids that warranty, I'm reasonably certain that they'll last me a few years of repeated use.  Only time will tell.  But in the meantime, I have a reasonably inexpensive way to grow my potatoes, which can't be grown in my clay soil.  Folks with limited soil but a lot of patio space may find them useful as well.

So after cutting them in three foot by fifty-inch lengths, I folded them in half with the cut edges together.  You have to use nylon thread here; cotton will rot, and polyester isn't strong enough.  To save thread, take a hint from power sewing and once one piece is sown, start the next without stopping to take the first out of the machine. Just keep following each piece after the one before it, as in the picture below.  Don't forget to lock your stitches at the start and end of every seam though.

 
I separated by every five or so bags, and then once I was done I cut them all apart from each other.  Once you have each piece sown in a tube, then you make four small darts at opposite corners.  Start with your seam side and then the opposite side.


Then open the bottom and meet the two darts together to find where your other darts go.


The picture above shows the first two darts met together, and then the third dart at the left.  The fourth is at the right but you can't see it.


So four darts all told, on opposite corners.  If you want to see better instructions, see the original Instructables video here.

I'm not bothering to start mine in the soil like they do in the video. I'm starting my potatoes in compost made in the backyard, and I'll hill them up with chopped straw.  I'd prefer to hill them up with dry leaves, but I don't have enough to even fill one bag, so chopped straw it is.

The beauty for me with these grow bags (apart from them being cheap) is that now I can grow potatoes wherever it looks like a good spot to do it.  And now that I have twenty-four of them, I can plant potatoes whenever I need to.  Most of them need to be started soon, so I'm glad to have these at the ready.  Actually, having them ready is a load off my mind.

Now I can go work on other stuff that needs doing.

14 comments:

Rae said...

Holy cow! Way to go Paula! That ALMOST makes me want to try the same. Lucky for me (since I've got enough to do already), I have absolutely no idea where my sewing machine ended up after the move. :)

Very cool idea. Can't wait to see how the potatoes turn out. What sort of potatoes are you planting? A variety?

Paula said...

Thanks Rae. The potatoes I planted for earlies are 'Sangre'. I also have 'Nicola' for main crop spuds, and 'German Butterball' for late main crop potatoes. All my seed potatoes were purchased from the Seed Savers Exchange.

Diane said...

I tried potatoes for the first time last year in lined baskets on the driveway. It was a hot summer here and I later learned that the soil was probably too warm so my yields were not great This year I'm trying them in a bed, which may not be sunny enough but the few meals we got were so delicious I didn't want to give up on them. And I plan to try sweet potatoes on the driveway.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Me, too. I can't wait to see how this turns out.
We've amended our clay soil in the large garden enough now that we can grow tater in it. It's taken five years, but, the soil is beautiful. Patience (and a lot of chicken poo)has paid off!

Paula said...

Diane- if you usually have pretty hot summers, your sweet potatoes should do really well!

Paula said...

Toni- it's good to know that chicken poo will fix clay soil. I just don't have five years! ...don't have chickens yet either. But I will!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the tutorial. This is exactly the kind of stuff I love to see!

Paula said...

You are welcome Rachel; I hope it's useful.

click clack gorilla said...

I'm fascinated to see these in action. I think I missed the post, if there was one, explaining how they even work. But I think I'll stay my googling hand and wait to see what happens with yours!

morgaineotm said...

Have successfully done the grow bags for potatoes. Only problem, termites got into the bags!! They got more taters than we did. Suggest having them slightly off the ground in some way. I'm using the odd bits of pavers cut from another job. PS this happened in AZ.

Paula said...

I'm not sure I explained how they work, Nicole. I think I just noted how I was going to use them. You could always search on my blog for them; at one point I linked Fiona's post on Cottage Smallholder where she explained how she did it.

Paula said...

I thought about putting pavers underneath them Morgainetom- now I'm sorry I didn't. I only have four bags planted, but I think trying to slip a paver under them at this point would be problematic. Still, I could attempt one and see what happens....

Another Rachel said...

Hi Paula,
I've been reading for a couple of months (found you through Tamar's blog, and was thrilled to see you were in Oregon too), and I've really been enjoying the blog. So many great projects, such great inspiration.

I KNEW we hung on to those old woven feed bags for a reason! Genius-- and a great way to get a few potatoes going despite this wet weather we're having. Keep the good stuff coming!

michael said...
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