Our Talking Shop topic this week is all about air pruning your root zone. Fabric pots, such as Phat Sacks and Smart Pots are the preferred pot for many growers. Solid plastic pots work but once the root mass runs out of room it begins circling around the pot becoming root-bound. This circling can eventually “strangle” the root mass. When root tips dry out, a signal is sent to the plant that triggers more inner root development. This signal leads to root hairs, which are actually a single cell that elongates as it reaches out looking for air pockets. Oxygen is important for cellular respiration in the root zone just as carbon dioxide is important for a plant above the soil surface. Fabric pots allow the root zone to get the maximum amount of aeration from all sides which air prunes your roots as they reach out looking for oxygen. Lack of oxygen from oversaturation can cause root cells to cease energy production, eventually leading to roots dying off. Oversaturation also leads to anaerobic conditions that breed harmful bacteria and fungi.
Drainage Benefits – Fabric pots like Phat Sacks and Smart Pots dry out faster requiring more frequent watering/feeding which maximizes the root zone allowing for more nutrient uptake from your media. Phat Sacks brand pots are built with handles that wrap all the way under the pot giving even support when lifting established roots. It is important to note that any pot, especially fabric, must be moved with the utmost care because the roots and mycorrhizal fungi network are very delicate and can be damaged easily. It is also more difficult to overwater fabric pots and they can effectively be used to bottom feed.
Clean, Store, and Reuse Easily – Fabric pots are also convenient when it comes to cleaning. A good shake outside and a light bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution cleans them effectively, and only minimal scrubbing is necessary to remove roots and dirt. They dry quickly in front of a fan or in the sun before reuse or folding up for storage.
Use for Any Grow – Fabric pots come in a range of sizes from 1-gallon to 200-gallon holding capacity. The larger 100 and 200-gallon pots also come in an optional “raised garden bed” version which only measures 12” tall. These shorter pots are excellent for herb and vegetable beds but we do recommend using the standard sized Phat Sacks or Smart Pots if you are growing root crops such as carrots and potatoes. The large Phat Sacks are easy to put up and break down for storage or to relocate the next growing season.
In closing, the consensus here at HTG Supply in Traverse City is that fabric pots are a winner! We all use them, and as any experienced gardener eventually finds out, Phat Sacks, Dirt Pots, Smart Pots, and any other brand of fabric container will generally produce better results than a conventional plastic pot. Stop into HTG Supply TC to see Phat Sacks in action here in the shop, or check them out online for more pricing and size info.