Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grow Bags - Do They Work Better for Sprouting Seeds?

small black growbag containing large tomato seedling
Tomato seedlings grew well in tiny bags
Grow bags are all the rage on the web. I was inspired to try my luck at this method of gardening for several reasons - the topic of another blog post. This post is to share my progress on how I am growing plants from seeds.

Perhaps the biggest name in You Tube related to grow-bags is Larry Hall, a You-Tuber from Minnesota with some 60K subscribers and millions of views. The viral nature of his You Tube channel is no surprise since he has an incredible garden using grow bags and a self-watering system that he invented called, "Rain-Gutter Grow System."

Larry advocates the use of grow-bags for planting gardens because the fabrics used to make grow-bags allow the roots to breathe. When roots get air, the plant is able to "air prune" its roots.  In short, air-pruning avoids the "root-bound" syndrome like the one is this picture that I got online.

Planting in breathable bags causes a natural pruning of the roots, so instead of roots winding around frantically looking for food, air pruning causes micro roots to form and take up more nutrients. That results in a healthier plant.

Here is a picture of Larry's corn that he grew in Walmart shopping bags.  Check out his You Tube video where Larry explains the roots that formed from his 8-foot tall corn.

So I began researching and planning my garden with air-pruning in mind. I found that Larry and others rave about growing seedlings in containers that allow for root air-pruning called, "net cups."

Those are available online for as little as fourteen cents, each. AND, they are reusable.

But since I was too impatient to wait for a mail order and too cheap to pay for it, I drove the 30 miles to my closest Walmart to get a couple of seed-starter trays.

On February 21, I planted my first batch of seeds using a conventional seed-starter tray.

Later that evening I planted some seeds using tiny cups that I made using super cheap landscape material that I wrongly got to make my own two-inch grow-bags.

While I didn't plan to do a comparison experiment on both methods, the preliminary results are in. It appears that the seeds I planted in my homemade, breathable cups are sprouting a little faster.

I noticed my first sprout yesterday afternoon - six days after planting. When it fruits the plant will hopefully grow beautiful orange beefsteak tomatoes.

I harvested that seed myself from a gorgeous tomato that I got from a local South Utah farmer. He told me that that tomato has been grown by his family for generations.

After a close inspection of the rest of my pending seedlings, I found one sprout in my conventional tray - a tiny Korean mint sprout - and this morning there are two.

Also, this morning I found two signs of life in my "cabbage patch" of  seeds (six days)....

... and my first pea is starting to sprout (five days).

So far it seems that the breathable containers are sprouting seeds faster.  Though for a true comparison, ALL conditions should be as equal as possible.

But this data is encouraging and I don't feel as though my efforts to put seeds in breathable containers have been in vain.

Next, I'll take you through my frenzied attempt to save the Roma tomato starter plants yesterday.  I bought it four days ago and it lost it's water pretty fast in the hot room that I made for seedlings.

Will they make it? Your comments, criticisms and suggestions are welcome :)

Roaring for speedy sprouts,


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