How to Use Plastic Bags As a Container to Grow Vegetables


Those with limited space for growing vegetables often think that they are restricted to producing a few salad greens in a window box or a pot of herbs on the window sill. But with container gardening, you can grow nearly any vegetable in a small area. Although pots, buckets and crates typically serve as containers for growing vegetables and flowers, growing them in a plastic bag is quick, easy and inexpensive.

Step 1

Select a location that receives full sun for at least six hours a day. Check for trees or buildings that may cast a shadow on your gardening area in the afternoon. Deciduous trees without foliage in the spring may cause considerable shade when in full foliage in midsummer.

Step 2

Combine equal parts peat moss, potting soil, perlite and well-rotted manure or compost to create a porous mixture that promotes drainage and provides adequate aeration for young roots. Organic amendments such as compost or manure improve the texture of the soil and add nutrients as well.

Step 3

Fill a heavy-duty plastic bag ¾ full with the soil mixture. Heavy-duty garbage bags are ideal for one or two potatoes, a tomato plant or other large vegetable plants. For smaller vegetables such as lettuce and salad greens, select medium to small shopping bags as your container.

Step 4

Punch holes with a pencil or dowel along the bottom and sides of the bag to allow water to drain properly and prevent the soil from becoming water-logged. Space holes 6 inches apart in all directions.

Step 5

Roll the top of the bag down to 2 inches above the soil. Plant seedlings or seeds to the appropriate depth following the recommended depth on the seed packet or plant identification tag.

Step 6

Water to moisten the soil and keep soil moist until seeds germinate or seedlings show signs of new growth. Reduce watering once plants are established. Allow soil to dry between waterings. Check the soil often for any signs of soggy soil at the bottom of the bag. If soil remains soggy, reduce watering and punch more holes in the bottom of the bag to improve drainage.

Step 7

Apply water-soluble fertilizer to plants once they reach a height of 4 inches on a 10 to 14 day schedule. Follow the application rate recommended on the container.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil mixture (peat moss, potting soil, perlite)
  • Well-rotted manure or compost
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension: Growing Vegetables in Containers
  • West Virginia University: Container Gardening
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening

Who Can Help

  • The Greenest Dollar: How to Grow Vegetables in Plastic Shopping Bags
  • Rodale: The Nickel Pincher: How to Grow Vegetables Anywhere
Keywords: plastic bag growing, grow in bags, conainer gardening

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.