In collaboration with Healthy Chesapeake (www. Healthychesapeake.org), Chesapeake Master Gardeners began distributing Grow Bags during 2020, at the beginning of the COVID Pandemic. The purpose of the Grow Bag program was to show citizens in perhaps a food insecure environment that it is not necessary to have a large space for a garden. Fresh food can be easily grown in self-contained Grow Bags, regardless of the space/lack of space. The only requirements are 4-6 hours of sunlight and some water
The popularity of the Grow Bag program carried over to 2021. Chesapeake Master Gardeners (CMGs) distributed over 500 Grow Bags to many areas, mainly the South Norfolk area, during the monthly Women’s Health Events, sponsored by Healthy Chesapeake and Chesapeake Regional Hospital, as well as during events sponsored by the area’s Libraries. Items included in the Grow Bags varied, from Japanese eggplant, to fennel, to green peppers, hot peppers, to cabbage, to greens, to name a few. In addition, a Marigold or Pansy, for cheerfulness was added.
The use of Grow Bags is a different, relatively simple method of growing plants. It is inexpensive, self-contained, and easily moved. Grow Bags can achieve desirable results of vigorous, healthy plants. Many gardeners have grown plants such as tomatoes in a 5 gallon bucket, possibly with mixed results. The reason that a Grow Bag can produce a more vigorous plant is because of how the plant grows. Hard sided containers (as in most pots/5 gallon buckets) can often disrupt the deep root formation necessary for the plant/s to obtain the maximum nutrition from the soil. When the roots meet the side of the hard plastic, they do not receive the proper “information” and continue to grow, thus resulting in a root bound plant. Root bound plants (where the roots form circles and doubles back on itself) are unable to effectively utilize the nutrients within the soil of that pot. Grow Bags, on the other hand, are made of permeable material that lets air and water move freely throughout the “container” and are soft sided. This encourages the plant roots to move deeper into the soil. Deeper plant roots allow for better absorption of nutrients from the soil, which in turn leads to bigger, healthier plants.
Information on the Plants that are included in the Grow Bags.
CMGs are encouraged by the popularity of this program and are already planning for the upcoming 2022.