Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Crown Growbag Frame: Product Review


Those of you who read my Testing Times post at the end of April may recall I'm trialling Crown's Growbag Frame in my garden, courtesy of Fuel My Blog. I'm using it as a support for some of my tomatoes and comparing it with my usual method of using large terracotta long tom pots plus canes.

The picture shows the situation a month ago. I've chosen it over today's because the tomato plants have grown so well, they're obscuring most of the frame. Click to enlarge the picture if you'd like a better look at the construction.

The frame was incredibly easy to put together: the lower horizontal rod is threaded through the growbag I'm using, which in turn forms the weight needed to support the rest of the structure. I prefer the straps used as plant supports - which are attached to the horizontals - over my usual bamboo canes as my plants seem to be happily using them without me having to tie them in.

You'll see the growbag is used on its side. This makes perfect sense as it gives a greater planting depth and removes the need to add a pot on top filled with extra growing media to get better results. Inside each hole I've 'planted' a 3" pot which I use for watering as it means I can get more down to where it's best utilised: around the roots. I rolled the growbag around to break up any lumps before planting. I can report that a month later these tomato plants are taller and much more healthier looking than their pot grown counterparts, though the latter have started to fruit.

So on the whole it's a big thumbs up for this product, particularly as I'll be able to take it apart and stow away in a much smaller space at the end of the tomato season. The only downsides I can see are its relatively expensive price (compared to 3 long tom pots + canes), though it does compare very favourably with other gadgets on the market designed for patio growing. There's also a dependency on using growbags which I'm a little uneasy about, especially as there's usually much more choice available in the larger 50 litre bags of growing media for the same price or cheaper.

However, I'll certainly be using this handy gadget in seasons to come and seeing whether I can adapt it for use with a bag of growing media instead.

6 comments:

  1. Looks sturdy. I was looking at these as well this year, Seen some metal ones on the market but have yet to buy. Good to see them in action. I have always wondered about the depth of soil, but placing bag on side is a brilliant idea.

    Let me know how the plants do in the following months.

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  2. My Dirty Life - welcome! Using the growbag on its side is so much better and my tomato plants are so much happier than when I've used growbags the usual way up. I'm planning on a follow up report at cropping time :)

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  3. I'm a bit thrown by this because, in my eyes, it is ugly. If I had a big garden, I'd want a greenhouse rather than a contraption and, in a small garden, I'd rather have something that looks good - and terracotta pots with bamboo canes do. I suppose they take up more storage space than the frame - but they don't need to be packed away for the winter so . . .

    About which plants have tomatoes on - it touches on something I've been wondering. I have plants in pots for passing on and plants in pots for keeping. The 'passing on' has dragged out for longer than anticipated so those plants, though still healthy, are in pots a bit too small for them. They have the first tomatoes. I've been trying to decide which is likely - that stress is good for them or whether stress gives them an early start but a short season.

    Esther

    WV is 'ablessed'. I expect that his a hint to wish you a wonderful week!

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  4. Esther - interesting points.

    Is it the frame and/or the growbag that's ugly? I was a little concerned when I put the frame together that I would miss seeing it on my way to my garden steps as it blends in so well.

    However, I do find the bag is ugly and I'm sure that's why there's also growbag 'disguises' for sale e.g. wicker baskets to make everything seem nice and rustic.

    I'm sure my potted tomatoes are fruiting because they're stressed (stress = plant hurries up to get reproducing as a survival strategy in my view). I didn't water them enough when we had that dry weather and I'd forgotten to line the terracotta pots first to stop them drying out so quickly.

    I went to a food bloggers get together at Oxford Botanic Garden in 2008 where I was surprised to find their (OBG not the food bloggers) tomatoes were growing in quite small pots. Tomatoes don't need a very big root run apparently, though of course a smaller pot does mean more watering and feeding is required to get a good crop.

    Here's to a good week for you and yours too :)

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  5. This is great for people who have limited space.

    I'm a follower from now on.. :)

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  6. Preppygardengal - hi and thanks for Following :)

    Absolutely - something more people will be thinking about as our gardens get ever smaller and the desire to grow your own food gets stronger.

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