See our round-up of the best grow bags for growing everything from cucumbers to tomatoes

Best grow bags

 

Growing bags are popular with gardeners – and for good reasons. You don’t need a pot as you can plant directly into the bag and for tender crops they’re a great alternative to planting in a greenhouse border. They’re a bargain option, too – often costing less than bags of multipurpose compost.

But not every bag is as great as it sounds, which is why we test them for you. We trialled 10 growing bags, most of which were peat-free, to find the best for growing summer veg, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, peppers and melons.

The best produced lots of large, healthy summer vegetables, while the worst made inadequate yields with pale leaves.

Best grow bags

Best grow bags

 

Dalefoot Wool Compost for Tomatoes

Overall rating: 79%

Peat content: 0%

Price: £10.99

Price per litre: 37p

Bag size in litres: 30

No need to feed

Dalefoot composts are made from sheep’s wool and composted bracken, and they now contain comfrey, which is said to possess high levels of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. You won’t need to add extra liquid feed, and when we tested this compost alongside liquid tomato feeds it scored almost as well as the Best Buy liquid feeds.  Our plants were healthy and grew 7.9kg of cucumbers from the start to the end of our trial.

  Where to buy: Garden centres. 

Best grow bags

 

Dalefoot Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads

Overall score: 78%

Peat content: 0%

Price: £10.99

Price per litre: 37p

Bag size in litres: 30

The compost is very similar to the Wool Compost for Tomatoes, again with the main ingredients being wool, composted bracken and comfrey. The wool is said to release nitrogen slowly as it breaks down, with enough feed to last for up to 12 months. Dalefoot claims composted bracken is rich in potassium.  Our cucumber plants thrived without the need for additional feed and the 7.9kg of fruits were naturally large and kept coming throughout the trial.

 

Where to buy: Garden centres. 

Melcourt grow bag

 

 

Melcourt SylvaGrow Peat-free Planter For Organic Growing

Overall rating: 77% 

Peat content: 0%

Price: £6.99

Price per litre: 16p

Bag size in litres: 45

Melcourt now has a wide range of composts, all based around composted bark, wood fibre and a little coir. The feed is organic and it also includes green compost (composted garden waste from council collections). Although you may prefer to use an organic fertilser to grow your crops, we stuck to our standard liquid feed for this trial.  We harvested 7.7kg of good-quality cucumbers from each bag over the seven weeks of our trial.

Where to buy: Garden centres. 

Best grow bags

 

How to use grow bags

Sow your seeds in around March and keep them inside on a sunny windowsill until they are large enough to plant in your bag (around 15cm) and the last frost has gone.

Put your grow bag in its final position and gently roll it to fluff up the compost.

Make some cuts in the bottom of the bag to allow excess water to drain out.

Cut along the marked lines on the top of the growing bag to position your plants.

If you only want to put two plants in each bag, use the two outer-planting positions on the bag.

How do you water plants in a grow bag?

Water regularly so the bag doesn’t dry out. In hot weather, this may need to be up to three times a day. An automatic watering system with a timer will help to avoid dry plants. Most summer veg will be in the bags for many weeks, so you’ll need to feed them.

Either add controlled-release feed by mixing it into the compost where you have cut holes before you plant, or liquid feed twice a week once the first fruits have formed. Follow the dosage and frequency advice on the bottle.