Sharon Beckmon's garden is on top of the ground 2010.06.16

Written by David Green.

sharon.bags.jpgSharon Beckmon says she isn’t one to dig and flip dirt around anymore, but that’s not stopping her in the garden.

“I can sure cut a hole in a bag and plant,” she said, and that’s just what she’s done, dozens of times over.

Sharon read an article in the March issue of “Mother Earth News” about gardening in bags of topsoil for a quick and easy vegetable plot.

The author suggested the technique as an alternative garden for someone who doesn’t have fertile, well-drained soil, but Sharon saw it as the perfect solution for someone who can’t dig a garden.

The results produce a rather unusual looking garden—certainly unattractive in many people’s eyes—but that’s not how Sharon’s viewing it.

She sees about half a dozen varieties of tomato plants growing inside cages. She sees eggplant, zucchini, kohlrabi, green beans, four varieties of peppers.

“This is just the ticket,” she said. “Anybody can do it.”

Sharon started with a long strip of landscaping cloth to smother the grass and weeds, then placed long rows of 40-pound bags of topsoil on top.

She shopped around for soil and found the best price of $1.19.

According to the author of the article, Barbara Pleasant, any ordinary bagged topsoil should do, but she suggests a mixture with a little gritty soil. Plants will do best in a mixture of organic material and soil, rather than just compost alone.

Each bag is stabbed with a screwdriver or knife a dozen times on the bottom to allow drainage and to give the roots a place to grow.

Then Sharon cut a “window” into the top of each bag, leaving a rim of the plastic to hold the soil in place and retain moisture.

That was it, an instant garden bed complete with good soil and no weeds. Let the planting begin.

Sharon is looking forward to the produce from her labors, but she isn’t quite finished with her bag garden. She still has a few bags in place that haven’t yet been opened and a few more seedlings will go into the ground before it’s too late.

“This is a work in progress,” she said.

Give it a few weeks. Her supply of fresh vegetables is in the bag.

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