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            1. Thursday, May 8, 2014

              Step by Step Method for Planting your Garden in a Bag

              Gardening in a Bag Kenyan Style is being brought to you by Bridges International Development and thechurch.at.  Garden in a Bags allows people to share in similar growing experiences around the world and benefit from low-water high density planting methods. Fundamental to this project is awareness and prayer for the people of Kenya and the ongoing missions. We encourage you to pray while you are enjoying working your the Garden in a bag. As I have said before, I am honored to be asked to participate in this project by receiving the first grow bag from thechurch.at as well as sharing the adapted United States techniques with you.

              If you have not previously read Garden in a Bag and Must Knows for Garden in a Bag I encourage you to read those before beginning.  There is nothing worse than having a garden fail, especially if it was easily prevented.

              Materials Needed:
              cutting bottom out of pot to make
               cylinder for Garden in a Bag

              Feed Bag
              Composted Cow Manure
              Top Soil or Compost
              Utility Knife
              Plants
              Water
              Small Rocks (Pebbles 1/4 - 1inch varying in size. You can find these or buy these)
              Cylinder (8 to 10 inches tall or more and 8 inches wide such as an old plastic pot with the bottom cut out or an old Folgers coffee canister with the bottom cut out)

              Method:
              
              Feed Bag with top folded in
              First place your Feed Bag now repurposed as a Garden in a Bag in its location. You will need to fold the top 12 inches down inside itself. Our bags available here are much narrower than the ones used in Kenya and will topple over if you use them full size. You will flatten and round the bottom of the bag the best you can.

              Rock Column inside of Garden in a Bag
              Next place your cylinder flat on the bottom of the bag. You will fill the cylinder up with rocks. Pack the 50/50 mixture of Cow Manure and Top Soil or Compost (your preference) around your cylinder. I combined the mixture in the bag as I went. After your Manure/Soil mixture is even with the rocks, wiggle your cylinder up and fill the cylinder again with rocks. Then pack the Manure/ Soil mixture around the cylinder again.

              You will repeat this process until you are within about 5 to 6 inches of the top of the bag. With my bag it took doing this procedure twice. Make sure you keep your rock column as straight as possible. If it moves on you a little it's not the end of the world. Just try and keep it lined up.


              First 1/2 moon slit in bag
              Once you have reached within 5 to 6 inches of the top of the bag wiggle your cylinder out and top the bag off with your Manure/Soil mixture.  Soak the bag with water. Watering down your center column of rocks. You won't see the rocks, but you know where they are. You will always water the bag in the center. This allows the water to percolate though the bag reaching all plant areas, as well as distributing the water most efficiently.

              After thoroughly watering the bag you will be ready for planting!  You will use your utility knife to make small 2 inch 1/2 moon shaped slits in the bag. My slits ended up being a little big. I couldn't get my knife to turn when I wanted it to.  Leave about 4 square inches between moon slits.  I started at the top of my bag and went in a circle. I only made slits for plants I had. It is normal to see dirt water ooze from the moon slit. It means your dirt is wet and ready for a plant! 

              
              Side view of Day 1
              Garden in a Bag
              Top view of Day 1
              Garden in a Bag
              In each 1/2 moon slit poke your fingers in or what ever tool you choose and poke the dirt back so you can transplant your plant inside. You can also plant seed if you choose.

               I had to roll my Sweet Pepper plant's roots around a bit in order to get them to fit inside the slit. I was gentle and they are doing fine. After a few days you will notice the plant start to turn upwards, making almost a C shape. This is also normal. Just continue around and down your bag staggering and spacing your plants. Keep in mind sunlight requirements.

              You should plant the top of your Garden in a Bag. Don't plant in the center where the column of rocks is under the dirt however.

              I planted my Ukrainian tomato off center and will trim it to manage the size. You can plant your bag as you go. I still have lots of room to plant in my Garden in a Bag. I will most likely plant one more ring, staggered by 4 square inches with Basil, Oregano and one more Pepper plant. The metal stick you see coming out of the top of the bag in the picture is only 8 inches long and was just in there temporarily holding up my tomato until I get my bamboo sticks out and make a teepee frame for the tomato. If you aren't planting tomatoes, you most likely won't need a stake.

              If you realize later you made too many holes, or you no longer need one you can just flip the flap up. You may experience some dirt/water leakage from that location though.

              Tips:

              Remember to always water down the center column. You can use left over water if you like. For example I always seem to have leftover water in my water bottle at the end of the day. Over the past few days I have enjoyed walking out to the bag at the end of the day, praying, and then poring my water in.  The great thing about growing with this method is that it uses water very efficiently. You won't need to water it every day, and honestly your water needs will depend on what you plant.


              Coming Next… How the Garden in a Bag is doing Week 2


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