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Before the pandemic, my job involved a lot of travel, often for weeks at a time. I loved getting to see, learn, and experience new things, but one of the downsides of an on-the-go career is that it’s nearly impossible to maintain a garden. So more than a year ago, when I, along with the rest of the world, was suddenly grounded, I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at gardening. Sheltering in place also meant that I was cooking all of my own meals, so I figured what better way to jump into the new undertaking than by planting vegetables and herbs to up my quarantine cooking game.
Determined not to take up an expensive hobby, at first I repurposed egg cartons, yogurt containers, and wooden wine boxes as makeshift pots. But as I got more attached to my seedlings, I knew that I had to invest in some actual planters to give them the best chance of thriving. I needed a solution that was affordable, durable, lightweight, easy to manage, and compact enough for small-space storage — a tall order, I know! Believe it or not, I found all of these benefits (and more) in these super-cool grow bags from Winner Outfitters.
After reading reviews calling out everything from the “sturdiness of the material” to the fact that they’re “so much easier to manage than plastic pots,” I figured that 4,000 five-star ratings couldn’t be wrong and placed an order for a six-pack of the five-gallon planters. At less than $5 apiece, they easily satisfied my “affordable” criterion.
Unlike traditional pots made from terra cotta, ceramic, plastic, and other hard materials, these grow bags are comprised of a sturdy, yet extremely pliable, felt-like fabric. My set arrived in an ordinary Amazon padded envelope with all of the pots folded flat, and I could already see how easy they’d be to store when not in use. I also noticed right away how lightweight they were. The six-pack in my hand weighed less than two pounds — imagine how heavy six terra cotta planters would be! And while they’re light as air empty, when filled with soil they are plenty heavy to stay put on the ground. Genius.
Once I started using them, I was even more convinced that these were the perfect planters for me. In fact, it only took a week before I ordered a six-pack of the seven-gallon containers, too. I constantly fiddle around and rearrange my garden, and the generously sized handles make it incredibly easy to lift and move things as much as I need to. (And when I finally do start traveling again, I can bring them to a friend’s house for safekeeping without breaking my back getting them into and out of the car.)
As a newbie gardener, I didn’t know that the material of the container can affect what’s growing inside of it. Luckily for me (and my plants), the breathable, porous fabric of the Winner Outfitters bags enables air to flow through to the roots, which I now know is essential to overall plant health. The fabric also acts as a temperature regulator, enabling plants to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, as needed. And while at first glance I thought that the plain black material looked a bit boring, I actually love how it lets the greenery shine as the main attraction.
Right now, my grow bags are filled with delicious edibles like San Marzano tomatoes, dill, lime basil, and spinach, and I have a few sunflowers just starting to bloom, too. I look forward to checking on my plants every morning, attending to the watering and weeding, and snipping leafy greens and herbs to throw into my salads, pastas, marinades, soups, and other fresh dishes. With all of the money I’m saving in the produce section, I’m definitely ordering more pots — and if you’re planning on doing any gardening this spring, you should, too! Now all that’s left to do is decide what to plant first.