I’ve been gardening most of my life, well over fifty years, and about 12 years ago I started growing way more plants in containers then ever before.   My driveway was the only spot that received lots of sun so that’s where I placed them.  At one point I had approximately 150 large pots there, so many that I had to park my cars on the street.   Hurricane “Sandy” solved my shade problem and opened up my back yard to the sun and I relocated my container garden to a nice, sunny, 30 x 15 foot plot.

About six years ago I added a number of raised beds to my container garden. From my viewpoint raised beds qualify as containers – only larger ones.

Over the years, container/raised bed gardening has become very popular and with good reasons. Many books and on-line articles have been written on the subject so all I will say is they are great where space is an issue.  They can be located wherever one wants and they conveniently grow wonderful plants.

Tomatoes Closeup in Smart PotContainers and raised beds come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors and materials and I’ve tried many of them. Years ago, I settled on using “Smart Pots” and “Big Bag Beds”.  Both of these containers are made of the same, porous, durable fabric.  The only differences between the two are the sizes and shapes.  “Smart Pots” are simply as the name states “pots”, sometimes called grow bags and “Big Bag Beds” are the brand’s version of raised beds.  What’s great about the “Big Bag Beds” is that they require no construction, you just unfold them, fill with planting media and plant.

I have a number of the same containers that I’ve been using for 12 years and they are in perfect shape. I leave them out year round and ice and snow doesn’t bother them at all.  They don’t break or fall apart after a tough winter.  I’ve also found that their physics, the way water and air move through these containers, is so much better than hard-sided pots.  Drainage isn’t an issue, they stay cooler in the summer and they air-root prune encouraging plants to develop more efficient root systems.  All of this is due to the porous fabric.

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Smart Pots are available at Hicks Nurseries.

Written by guest blogger Marty Gottlieb, Smart Pots