It seems like the answer to so many of life’s questions is, “It depends.” Unfortunately, the quandary of fabric pots versus fabric raised beds is no different. There are so many different methods of growing plants, and it really depends on your space and your growing method.
We’ve gathered the points we think are most compelling in favor of each choice. Hopefully, this will help you make your decision on what’s best for your grow.
Reasons to Choose Fabric Raised Beds
Maximize Your Space
Get more plants per square footage with raised beds. This is the most popular reason people have switched to raised beds for their greenhouses and indoor grows.
Maintain Better Soil Microbiology
Many methods of growing – including living soil or no-till methods – are based on having increased organic soil microbiology. Fabric raised beds provide an optimum scenario for this because your soil takes longer to dry out. Supporting a thriving microbiology is hard in small pots because anything less than 15 gallons of soil will dry out rapidly. If your root zone completely dries out, you have potentially killed some valuable microbes, taking a step backwards.
The bigger your soil mass, the longer the moisture retention. You will have to water smaller pots more often than you would a raised bed.
Get Bigger Plants and Higher Yields
After root growth, plants grow better together. Allowing plants to grow in a polyculture environment will encourage beneficial bacteria and fungi to colonize the soil mass. Over time, this will develop a network to connect the plants together. This network of fungi allows them to share valuable nutrients and better protect against drought or harsh environmental conditions.
Save on Materials and Labor Costs
Smaller pots can require transplanting, which takes time and more pots. Also, each individual root system in a fabric pot might require its own unique care and maintenance. The plants in a fabric raised bed share a root system and soil mass, so they can help take care of themselves like a community.
Help Your Plants Communicate with Each Other
It’s possible for your plants to communicate when they share a soil system through something called the mycelium network. This may help your plants fight disease together as a unified force.
Reasons to Choose Fabric Pots
Save Money on Soil
A big downside to raised beds is how much soil you need to buy to fill them. Keep your soil costs down by using fabric pots.
Protect from Mold and Disease
If you’re growing in fabric pots and one of your plants becomes diseased, you can remove it easily and your other plants are not threatened.
Dump Your Soil and Wash Your Pots
Fertigation and other methods of feeding require you to dump your soil at the end of the cycle and start fresh. Fabric pots can be dumped easily and washed in the washing machine.
Flexibility with Your Layout and Space
Fabric pots are the way to go if you aren’t dead-set on the layout you’d like for your grow, or if there may be a possible move in your future.
Have Better Access to the Plant
You can work 360O around each of your plants if they are in pots. In a fabric raised bed, you often only have access to two sides of each plant.
Test New Soils or Plant Strains
If you are going to try something new, try it in a couple fabric pots to make sure it works.
If Your Plants Don’t Like to Share
Prolific plants might be better grown in fabric pots, especially if your intention is to grow several types of plants together in one raised bed.