Dec 2021 Edition

How to grow veggies in a bag

Written by Allison Cooper

Not having enough space to produce vegetables at home should not stop you from growing your own leafy vegetables. There is another way to grow them successfully.

According to Dr Araya Hintsa, the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Senior Researcher: Crops Science, plants can be grown in a bag system. This is when an old maize meal bag is used to grow food. When vegetables are planted in a bag, they grow vertically upwards, which means less space or land is needed.

This method of planting has numerous advantages, including that the bag can hold water for a longer time, without water and nutrients draining into soil. 

Plant leaves are not in contact with the soil, resulting in less effort to clean the leaves before eating or selling.

“This small bag system, when fully planted with spinach, for example, can feed a family of four, with a bunch of spinach every week,” says Dr Hintsa.

“Leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard spinach, Swiss chard, spinach, beetroot and lettuce can be planted successfully in the bag system,” he adds.

What you need to plant;

  • An empty polyethylene maize meal bag.
  • Fertiliser.
  • Growing medium (compost, sawdust or soil with good drainage).
  • Watering can.
  •  Seedlings.

Steps to follow;

  • Wet the growing medium with water, to ensure good distribution of water during irrigation.
  • Fill the maize meal bag with the moistened growing medium (an empty 80kg bag of maize meal can plant on average, 56 plants).
  • Use a sharp blade to cut openings in the bag, at a distance of 20cm x 10cm for planting holes.
  • Push the seedling root plug into the planting hole in the bag.
  • Make sure that the bag is upright so that water can reach the plants.
  • Make sure that the growing medium doesn’t dry out. Water the plants from the top of the bag and the water will drain down to the lower plants.
  • Plants can be watered every second day. An 80kg bag requires between 60 litres and 90 litres of water per week.
  • Add fertilisers such as kraal or chicken manure.
  • Plants should be exposed to sunlight.
  • After the first planting, do not re-use the maize meal bag, as it will tear and disintegrate over time.

For more information about various agricultural topics, visit the ARC’s information hub on its website at

Rural development
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