Fabric Raised Beds Versus Fabric Pots

Fabric pots vs raised beds.

Choosing Your Planter Type

It seems like the answer to so many of life’s questions is: “It depends.”  Unfortunately, the quandary of raised beds vs. pots is no different.  There are so many different methods of growing plants, and it really depends on your space and your growing method. We’ve gathered the points we think are most compelling in favor of each choice.  Hopefully this will help you make your decision on what’s best for your grow.  

Reasons to Choose Raised Beds

4x8 fabric raised bed side angle.

Maximize Your Space

Get more plants per square footage with raised beds.  This is the most popular reason people have switched to raised beds for their greenhouses and indoor grows.

Maintain Better Soil Microbiology

Many methods of growing, including “living soil” or “no-till” growing methods, are based on having increased organic soil microbiology.  Raised beds provide an optimum scenario for this because your soil takes longer to dry out.  Supporting a thriving microbiology is very hard in small pots – anything less than 45 gallons of soil will dry out rapidly.  If your root zone completely dries out, you have potentially killed some valuable microbes, taking a step backwards.

Save Water

The bigger your soil mass, the longer the moisture retention.  You will have to water smaller pots more often than you would a raised bed.

Get Bigger Plants and Higher Yields

In a raised bed, there is more room for the roots to expand!  Each plant’s root system can interweave with the others for overall larger root growth.  And bigger roots mean bigger plants.

Potentially Save on Materials and Labor Cost

Smaller pots can require transplanting, which takes time and more pots.  Also, each individual root system in a fabric pot might require its own unique care and maintenance.  The plants in a raised bed share a root system and soil mass and can help take care of themselves like a community.

 

Reasons to Choose Fabric Pots

Fabric pots.

Save Money on Soil

A big downside to raised beds is how much soil you have to buy to fill them.  Keep your soil costs down by using fabric pots.

Protect From Mold or Disease

If you’re growing in fabric pots, and (God forbid) one of your plants becomes diseased, you can remove it easily and your other plants are not threatened.

Dump Your Soil and Wash Pots

Fertigation and other methods of feeding require you to dump your soil at the end of the cycle and start fresh.  Fabric pots can be dumped easily and washed in the washing machine.

Be More Flexible With Your Layout and Space

If you’re not dead set on the layout you’d like for your grow, or you think there might be a possible move or lease change in your future, pots are a much safer way to go.

Have Better Access to the Plant

You can work 360° around each of your plants if they are in pots.  In a raised bed, you often only have access to two sides of each plant.

Test New Soils or Plant Strains

If you are going to try something new, try it in a couple fabric pots to make sure it works out.

If Your Plants Don’t Like to Share

Prolific plants might be better grown in fabric pots – especially if your intention is to grow several types of plants together in one raised bed.   If you’d like to talk about any of this more, feel free to contact us!  We have a couple people on the team that nerd out on this stuff and would love to talk with you.

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Black Vs. Tan Fabric Choices

What’s the difference between black and tan pots?

Glad you asked!  The essentials are the same between the two colors.  They have the same amount of breath-ability for your root systems and will both help you grow happy plants, no matter what you are growing.  Also, both our black and tan fabrics are made from the same USA manufacturer, so there are no differences in texture, thickness, or quality between the two colors. When taking a closer look, there are a couple factors that might help you decide between the two. black-verses-tan

Difference in temperature

Most growers who have used fabric pots before will tell you that there is a slight temperature difference between black and tan pots when the plants are placed in direct sunlight or greenhouse environments.  If you are in a warm climate and growing outdoors, for instance, you might choose tan pots to shave off a few degrees of heat from your root system.  Cooler climates may choose black pots to keep their plants slightly warmer.

Difference in evaporation

Because black pots can be slightly warmer, they will actually drain and evaporate water faster than tan pots.  This will be most noticeable in outdoor growing, when the plants are exposed to direct sunlight.  Some of our growers have noticed, when growing in black and tan side by side, that they have to water the plants in black pots more frequently than the tan.  So if you want to conserve water, consider tan pots.  If you are happy with a faster wet/dry cycle for plant feedings, consider black.

Difference in UV stamina

The fabric used for fabric planters is a nonwoven polypropylene, and most (including ours) have been treated to withstand UV rays.  However, over time, the fabric will break down, especially in direct sunlight.  Just because of the color, our growers report that the tan fabric lasts a little bit longer than the black.  We expect our pots to last at least 4-5 seasons, but black pots in direct sunlight are probably more likely to last 3-4 seasons.

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Washing your Grassroots Fabric Pots

how to wash a grassroots fabric pot

Why would I reuse my pots?

Get efficient and keep your cost per crop down! Buying new grow pots every time can be expensive. You could save 20-30% off your crop cost by reusing pots. Grassroots Fabric Pots are made with the “good stuff”: strong USA-made fabric and thread. We have made them to last through multiple harvests.

Why should I wash my pots?

You’ll want to remove residual chemicals that came from your nutrients and growing mediums before your next grow cycle. Give your new plants a fresh start.

How do I wash fabric pots?

     

  1. Pre-wash pots with a hose. Try to get the larger pieces of soil and plant material out of your pots by hosing them down.
  2. Let them dry out for at least 24 hours, then shake or knock out more dried-out material.
  3. Get an industrial washing machine We recommend new washers to avoid contaminants that might have been used to wash clothes. It helps to have an industrial model to handle the sediments of the growing mediums.
  4. Fill the washer with fabric pots. Don’t overfill. In our video with the basic washer we bought, we fit 8 or 9 30gallon pots.
  5. Add baking soda and white vinegar. This is our suggested detergent. It’s natural and it has no chemicals that might bind to the fabric. We recommend using this or some kind of organic detergent to remove the calcium and other residual materials from your pots since water alone won’t quite cut it.
  6. Wash in the coldest water on the heaviest setting. It may require more than one cycle.
  7. Air dry 100% before putting away. If you put away your pots before they’re 100% dry, it could invite mildew or mold. Not sure if we really need to mention it, but don’t put your pots in a dryer as that would be no bueno.

How do I store my pots?

In a cool, dry place! Fold them, squish them, bundle them – store them however you’d like.   If you’ve got any questions, we are happy to help. Shoot us an email at info@grassrootsfabricpots.com or give us a ring at (916) 822-2177.

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How Tough is a Grassroots Fabric Pot?

how tough is a grassroots fabric pots
We enjoy having fun here at Grassroots Fabric Pots. We picked up this idea at a show we attended this Spring. Turns out, a 45 gallon is at least one “Nelson Hogan” strong! 🙂 (That’s 230 pounds of human!)
  There are a few design choices we’ve made that add extra strength to our fabric pots. We use UV-resistant, chemically stable (BPA Free) fabric. We sew our bottom seams on the outside instead of the inside to prevent rotting and we use a dual needle, 5-thread safety stitch with an extra seam for even greater toughness! Our pots 45 gallon and larger all have a triple-seamed hem to make the pot easier to grip.   Add these all together, and you get a high quality fabric pot!

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Why use fabric pots for transplanting?

fabric pots for transplanting
We were very happy to make a visit to Grass Valley, CA this month to talk with Eric Brandstad at Forever Flowering Greenhouses.  We got a tour of his amazing facilities and chatted it up about light deprivation and fabric pot benefits.  Luckily, he was willing to jump on camera for us to share some of his knowledge with you! If you’re interested, check out our fabric pots we’ve made especially for transplanting –> The Transplant-inator.
 

The Benefit of using Fabric Pots for Transplanting – according to Eric

(video transcription) A benefit I see of using Grassroots Fabric Pots, or textile pots in general, is that they’re better than plastic pots for transplanting. When you have a 5 gallon or a 3 gallon pot, or even a little Dixie cup for that matter, you want your starting material to be pristine and your best foot forward. So when you start to get root-bound plants in these small containers, especially plastic pots, it’s because typically roots source to the outside. Then when we water, the water drains right through the middle. We’re not actually getting hydration or saturation to the plant. When we don’t get these to the plant, it’s not growing to its fullest potential. What we want to do is help it grow to its fullest potential and grow more naturally, and that’s why I believe that fabric pots are better. Anytime that you pull a plant out of a plastic pot and you see the roots bound, or growing around the outside, you know that the plant has gone through some type of abolic stress. It’s not getting the hydration or saturation it needs, and that’s what develops into disease and mold and problems in the future. For that matter, I’m a big fan of the Grassroots Fabric Pots, or any of these pots that actually help you maintain better control.  That’s another word that a lot of people look at the word “control”. It usually means temperature and humidity. A lot of times for me it means: Are the roots growing more naturally? Are we able to sustain better hydration and saturation for the plant? Is all the water absorbed into the center of the medium? A lot of times we see the center of the soil dried out and the outside is more saturated, and that saturation is what the roots want to follow.  So if we keep the roots in the center growing more naturally, especially the people that are using smaller ones in the flood and drain tables, we might be able to cut out one of the floods in between. That would mean more nutrient savings, more water savings, and we still have plants that grow to their fullest potential.

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Tricks to grow with aloe vera

Aloe vera is awesome! Besides being a succulent, it contains a nearly magical goo full of helpful enzymes that helps plants grow faster and stronger. Cloning The gel found inside the aloe vera plant can be used as an organic and all natural cloning gel. Just rip off a piece of the aloe vera and use that goo! Seed Germination These enzymes also work great for seed germination! Plant some goo with your seeds and watch them grow faster and stronger. Add to Water for Vigorous Root Growth You can always mix some aloe vera goo into your water for awesome results on your root systems! If you plan on growing aloe vera, be careful not to over water. It’s easy to drown a succulent! This is why growing in a fabric pot helps make growing aloe vera easy. Fabric pots drain quickly and lower your risk of over-watering! Visit our shop -> https://www.grassrootsfabricpots.com/shop

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What Type of Soil Should I Use?

Choosing which soil to use.
This is the most common question we get from new growers. Soil is a popular growing medium for container gardening and is often the hardest part to get right. Consumers are bombarded with a wide range of soil options ranging from simple “potting soil” to specifically formulated mixtures that are designed for certain types of plants. Narrowing down your options and selecting the proper soil can often feel daunting.  

What Actually is Soil?

Common soil ingredients.

Soil isn’t just a bag of dirt, it is a blend of ingredients that together make up what we refer to as “soil”.

Some common ingredients in soil include:

The type of ingredients that you want in soil depends on what you’re growing and what characteristics you need from the soil.

Adding and removing certain ingredients can affect the soil’s ability to hold water, provide ventilation to the roots, and deliver nutrients, so getting the right soil composition for your plants is really important.

   

How Do I Know Good Soil When I See It?

Regardless of what you are growing there are some general traits that are desirable when seeking a quality soil blend. As a rule of thumb, you always want a soil blend that is easy to handle, lightweight, and has a good texture. Ideally soil should be fluffy, which will make the soil easier to work with and will encourage maximum growth. A soil that is too dry will result in low water retention and a soil that is too dense and clumpy won’t be able to drain properly. An ideal soil mixture will also be free of pathogens. Some examples of soil pathogens are harmful soil bacteria or weed seeds that might interfere with your plant’s growth. Learn how to detect signs of bad soil to avoid jeopardizing your grow.  

Quick Tips For New Growers

Mulch. If you’re not sure about the exact requirements of your plants or if you’re growing several different types of plants at once, then an easy option is to buy a commercial grade potting soil such and some mulch from a local nursery to supplement your potting soil. We checked with our local nurseries and a couple of popular brand suggestions we got are E.B. Stone and Fox Farm. Potting soil is usually premixed and contains a good combination of essential ingredients such as: compost, sand, sphagnum peat moss, and fertilizers that deliver nutrients into your plant’s roots. Although each brand of soil will differ in composition and consistency there are some general traits that are desirable when seeking a good soil blend. For example whenever picking a soil you want to look for a mixture that has low water retention and a fluffy consistency.  With soil selection, you typically get what you pay for, so cheaper options aren’t necessarily the best route for your plants.  

Local & Organic Soil

Close-up of soil. If you find that a generic commercial soil doesn’t meet your growing needs, we suggest purchasing a local and organic soil from a local soil company. Like food, soil is best when it is locally sourced and organic. You want to aim to decrease the number of middlemen between you and your soil producer to ensure the highest quality and consistency. Typically, locally mixed soils produce the best results because they are free from debris, pathogens, and contaminants that can negatively affect your plant’s growth.    

Special Situations and Optimizing Your Soil

Certain plants are meant to thrive in specific soil and environmental conditions. For example, succulents are a type of desert plant that requires a soil with good water drainage. If your plant is high maintenance and has special needs in order to thrive, then using the right soil is crucial. There is a wealth of information on YouTube and other sources that can help provide specific information about your plant’s needs. After deciding on what soil works best for your needs, it’s important to take notes and evaluate the performance. Document which brands and formulas work best for your plants. When you notice that a soil mix performs well, then stick with it. If the soil you are using isn’t producing your desired results then don’t be afraid to switch or try a combination of two or more soils. Feel free to contact us with any questions, our soil specialists will get right back to you.

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DIY Hydroponics Rig with Fabric Pots

If you are interested in building a small hydroponics rig to grow a couple plants at home, then you’re in the right place! Grassroots Fabric Pots presents this how-to video from a buddy of ours, RJ. This is how RJ would do this at home:
Hydroponics utilizes water as a grow medium without the downfalls of dirt. Up until now, hard plastic net pots were the best tool for the job. Grassroots Fabric Pots are an alternative that has far greater benefits than traditional plastic pots. Some of the problems that arise when using net pots are root circulation and root rot. Grassroots Fabric Pots are aeration containers that allow the roots to grow through the fabric encouraging air pruning and vigorous root growth. More roots often lead to a bigger yield. Everybody in my office loves hot peppers, so I decided to plant a hot pepper plant in my own hydroponics rig using fabric pots. I went over to my local NorCal Home Depot and purchased all the materials I needed to create the hydroponics rig for around $100. Here’s what I bought:
  1. Small Plastic Shelf Unit (To use as structure for rig)
  2. A 10 Gallon Tupperware (For our reservoir)
  3. A 18 Gallon Tupperware (To use as grow container)
  4. ½ inch Bulkhead (To attach return pipe to grow container)
  5. 1 inch Plastic Return Pipe (For returning water to reservoir)
  6. 2 Sterlite Baskets (For added height)
  7. A 300 GPH Pond Fountain Pump (To run the rig)
  8. ½ inch Water Line (Main water line)
  9. ¼ inch Drip Lines (Secondary lines)
  10. ½ inch to ¼ inch Drip Line Plugs (To run water from main line to plants)
  11. ½ inch Barbed Tee (For splitting the main line)
  12. A Hot Pepper Plant (We love hot peppers)
  13. Heavy Duty Timer (For… timing)
I also ran out to a hydroponics store and picked up a small bag of hydroton. You can watch this video where I set up the rig and showed the process for growing hot peppers:

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