Planting Tomatoes in Bag of Soil - Knowledgebase Question

Yardley, PA
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Question by plainplane
April 15, 1999
I recently read a tip for easy planting of tomatoes and wondered if you thought it was worth a try. The article suggested buying a bag of soil per tomato plant, poking holes in bottom of bag, throw it on your tomato bed, cut an x in the top and put plant in, water and care for as usual. Sounds good to me..I usually only do about 6 or so plants and only have minimal time to spend in the garden. Do you think this would work?

Answer from NGA
April 15, 1999
It might work, but probably not for the reasons you'd think at first. While I'm always in favor of an experiment, I'm not sure why you would want to do this -- my main concern would be that the soil inside the bag would heat up in the sun and cook the roots before they had a chance to grow deeper into the soil. At first, the extra heat will be a benefit because tomatoes need a warm soil, but later on it could be a problem. If you try it, make sure to mulch well by mid summer to insulate the soil in the bag.

Tomatoes have a big root system, so I suspect the roots will escape the bag and dig into the soil below and that the plastic and soil on top will work as a mulch layer and help keep the lower layer of soil moist. (If the roots don't escape the bag, you will in essence have a containerized plant and will have to water it and fertilize it accordingly.) The hole in the bag will direct any water directly to the root zone, too. To be honest, I think you would be as well off to work some organic matter into your garden soil (say, a bag of compost for each plant), then mulch well and water regularly.

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