By Guy Ehydro
Grow Big with Smart Pots
When it comes to growing big plants and maximizing our efforts the best place to put your time, money, and energy is in the root system. Big roots = Big fruits. Nothing builds better root systems than the Smart Pot Fabric Planter. We’ve heard your concerns and we want to help you pick the best planter for your crops.
How do they stay up?
With the wide flat bottom, and the strongest fabric in the industry, just add your media and they stand right up. From 1 gallon to 500 gallons, these planters can even hold up trees. Because the Smart Pot is a fabric container, giving the root ball total aeration and excellent drainage, you can even use a heavier, less expensive planting mix.
Will roots grow through the soft fabric?
Yes, they can. When the root tips are exposed to the air a signal is sent back up the chain to stop growing straight, and to start stretching out in other directions. But, if you plant your Smart Pot container right in the ground, or set them on uncovered earth, the roots will penetrate the fabric.
What makes them better than other containers?
Every garden can benefit from what Smart Pots bring to the table.
Value: This fabric is so durable you can use it for several seasons. I wash mine at the laundromat between runs and they come out brand new every time. This allows me to save a ton of money per year on less expensive plastic containers. (but it never hurts to have a stack of 4″ starter pots around)
Versatility: Smart Pot fabric allows for unbeatable drainage capacity without losing any of the media it contains. This makes them great in hydroponic applications like ebb and flow systems.
Soil Health: Outdoors on the patio, or the back patch on the hill, a plastic container can easily top 120 degrees, damaging or killing your roots, stressing the plant, and hurting your harvest. The Smart Pot porous fabric allows heat to dissipate and excess water to evaporate so that the beneficial bacteria thrive and provide nutrients from your soil to the plant.
Root Health: When a root branch reaches the edge of the Smart Pot, it is triggered to stops growing in length and develops many, many fine branches. These lateral root shoots make better use of the container space and result in a big increase to root mass surface area. Plants kept in plastic pots for too long have roots that continue to grow in length. You may have heard this called “circling,” and is defined by a dense root system wrapped around the side of the pot, effectively strangling uptake.
How can I use them in my garden?
Hydroponic and soil gardeners are all finding creative ways to utilize the benefits of the Smart Pot fabric container. In an Ebb and Flow bucket system they are great for containing loose media that could clog hosing. Top feed and drip hydroponic gardens also benefit from the improved aeration and drainage allowing for more frequent feedings without over watering.
Outdoor gardens that contain edibles are often grown in raised beds to improve drainage and aeration. The Smart Pot container imitates this above ground effect and even the largest beds are easy to get started using. If you have never tasted freshly dug potatoes then you don’t know what you’re missing out on! Compared to those store potatoes shipped in from the farm and stored until you buy them at the grocery store, well… there is no comparison. Perfect for all vegetables and fruits your family will thank you for bringing some good ol’ fashioned homegrown organic to the table.
Container gardeners can also take a look at planting some perennials. Because the root system stays healthy for a long time in a Smart Pot they a great for raising plants for up to 4 years. The Smart Pot was actually originally developed for and is still used extensively in large tree production.
What size do I need?
One of the most common questions I see asked is “What size Smart Pot should I use” to grow my crop? There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to picking the right pot for your plant and the space it has to fill. Please consider the following when trying to decide what size Smart Pot to use:
1. Portability – If you are going to move the Smart Pot around, get a size you can handle. A 10-gallon pot, for example, might weigh forty or fifty pounds or more, depending on the soil mix and water content. Can you move this weight without hurting your back?
2. Do you need the Smart Pot to fit?The Smart Pot has straight sides and no taper. If you are placing the Smart Pot inside another pot, make sure the bottom diameter will fit, and you can lift it out.
3. What is the genetic potential of the plant?Put one in a small container, and plan on moving it as it grows. A giant Pumpkin will fill a large Smart Pot in one season. Do not put it in a one-gallon container and expect stellar growth.
4. Do you want the plant to reach its’ genetic potential? Do you want the plant to stunt in growth? Leaving a plant that could grow very large in too small a Smart Pot for too long will cause the plant to bonsai.
5. What type of mix will you use?
6. What type of fertilizers will you use?
7. What type of watering system do you have?
8. What type of lighting system, if any, do you use?
The answers for questions 5 through 8 are all related. A sophisticated hydroponic grower, using the right mix with an ebb and flow watering system, with specialized fertilizers and lighting, will grow a larger plant in a smaller container than will a backyard duffer who rarely fertilizes or irrigates.
9. If you currently container growing, we recommend starting with the same gallon size container you ordinarily use - With proper care, the Smart Pot grown plant should grow a little bigger and fuller when compared to the same plant grown in a hard plastic pot.
(base x height)
#1 – 7″ x 6″
#2 – 8″ x 7″
#3 – 10″ x 7.5″
#5 – 12″ x 9.5″
#7 – 14″ x 9.5″
#10 – 16″ x 11.5″
#15 – 18″ x 13.5″
#20 – 20″ x 15.5
#25 – 21″ x 15.5″
#30 – 24″ x 15.5″
#45 – 27″ x 18″
#65 – 32″ x 18″
#100 – 38″ x 20″
#200 – 50″ x 24″
*(Actual size may vary slightly)