Gardening

Root pouch: a helpful new tool for patio and container gardening

Root pouch: a helpful new tool for patio and container gardening thumbnail

Every now and then, we run into a new gardening tool or resource that makes things way easier or better. When that happens, we like to share it.

Most of our gardening is done in-ground, since we have a good bit of land and have been building our soil for almost a decade. However, we still enjoy growing in containers. For instance, we grow about a dozen varieties of citrus organically in pots, and we also have a back deck with pots that we keep full of annual fruits and veggies year round.

Our garage gets filled with potted citrus plants on nights when sub-freezing temps come through. The extra effort for piles of fresh organic citrus straight off the tree is so worth it though!

Our garage gets filled with potted citrus plants on nights when sub-freezing temps come through. The extra effort for piles of fresh organic citrus straight off the tree is so worth it though!

Container gardening can be challenging, especially when you’re new to it. You have to make sure to use high quality potting soil (like this) NOT gardening soil, otherwise the soil in the pot will quickly become a compacted brick. Since a plant is only limited to the nutrition that’s within the confines of the pot, maintaining balanced fertility can be a challenge.

Another problem with potted plants is they tend to get “root bound,” meaning the roots are literally choking each other trying to find new room to grow inside the container. In plastic and ceramic containers, the roots hit the hard perimeter, then start circling the perimeter of the container looking for an opening, eventually choking the plant. If not addressed, being root bound can severely stunt the container plant’s growth or even kill it.

A pretty red root pouch full of kale in our front yard edible landscape. We'd actually recommend you get a black or grey color for reasons we'll explain down below where you can see this same root pouch a little later in the season.

A pretty red root pouch full of kale in our front yard edible landscape. We’d actually recommend you get a black or grey color for reasons we’ll explain down below where you can see this same root pouch a little later in the season.

Root Pouch: Not Your Momma’s Garden Pot 

Well, we recently decided to try something called a “root pouch” after hearing rave reviews about them. Root pouches are a lot less expensive than ceramic or stylized plastic pots. They also don’t break if you drop them. (We’ve shattered more than our fair share of ceramic pots over the years.) They’re shaped like regular pots, but they’re made of a lightweight, breathable recycled fabric material instead of ceramic or plastic.

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Here’s what’s so neat about them from a plant health standpoint:

  • Better Aeration - They allow for a higher oxygen exchange meaning the plant can get oxygen to its root systems more easily – anaerobic conditions around the rhizosphere of your plant can cause roots to rot or encourage diseases/pathogens.
  • Healthier, Air-Pruned Roots – When the plant’s roots reach the exterior wall of the root pouch, they don’t keep growing and circling the pot. Instead, the tiny root tips attach to the fabric and “air prune” themselves, which then triggers the plant to create new roots from the central root rather than sending roots to wrap around the inside of the pot. This simple difference translates into a dense, fibrous root ball and healthier, more productive plants.
A picture says a thousand words. Here's an image from Root Pouch's website showing how roots grow in a traditional pot (left) versus a root pouch pot (right). Notice no wrapping and the air-pruned roots on the right.

A picture says a thousand words. Here’s an image from Root Pouch’s website showing how roots grow in a traditional pot (left) versus a root pouch pot (right). Notice no wrapping and the air-pruned roots on the right.

Root Pouch Sizes 

Root pouches come in a huge array of sizes. We’ve only tried the small Root Pouches so far, but we’re also going to try growing peanuts in a huge Root Pouch that’s shaped like a kiddy pool next summer, since growing peanuts in-ground has provided more peanuts for our voles than for us. The same is true with shallots, which our voles also LOVE.

It doesn't really bother us, but notice how the red root pouch has started getting some very noticeable mildew on it in this picture? If that sort of thing bothers you, make sure to get black, grey, or some other color/pattern that will hide mildew stains.

It doesn’t really bother us, but notice how the red root pouch has started getting some very noticeable mildew on it in this picture? If that sort of thing bothers you, make sure to get black, brown, grey, or some other color/pattern that will hide mildew stains.

Root pouches are usually ordered in bundles, so the price of a 3-5 gallon Root Pouch breaks down to about $1/pot. Not bad! Check out the options here. 3-5 gallon containers is great for virtually any annual garden plant you’d want to grow, from tomatoes to peppers to a fall kale patch (like the one in the above photo).

Nope, Root Pouch (the company) is not paying us to write a review or promote their products. They did provide a few product samples for us to try, but we wouldn’t be writing this article if we didn’t think root pouch was an excellent product and a helpful new tool for container gardeners.

If you’re growing in Root Pouches, we’d love for you to share your photos or reviews!

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KIGI,


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