A versatile material in the garden, burlap is used to wrap tree and shrub roots, mulch growing beds, protect newly planted seeds.
I’m not sewing a stitch or covering plastic containers. My approach is more organic, free-form and natural looking. Once you view these ideas, you may dream up your own ways to use burlap that suits your lifestyle and surroundings.
Burlap is made from the jute plant. Jute comes from the outer skin of the jute plant grown in places that get lots of rain, parts of India for example. The jute plant only takes 4-5 months to reach maturity so it’s a smart choice for a renewable, sustainable material. It’s second to cotton in terms of production volume of a natural fiber worldwide – like cotton, it can be used in many industries and applications.
To use burlap sacks, place the bags directly on the ground, as a rectangle, horizontal tube or upright with rolled edges. If you have a patio, some kind of barrier between the bag and wood, stone or cement would work well to prevent staining. Vertical gardening is a wonderful concept although gravity is working a bit against us here with soil inside and so keeping the bags from falling over requires some support – you could use wire fencing or do what I do and group bags together so they can support each other. This especially works well when growing potatoes in burlap bags. I have another video that provides you the details and some fun on growing spuds in sacks – when you get a chance, maybe take a look at that one too.
There are several reasons why plants grow well in burlap. Aeration: the weave of the fibers make it easy for air to circulate unlike plastic or clay. The burlap retains moisture but at the same time let’s water flow through much better than many containers. I like burlap because it’s lightweight. I’ve made planting beds out of retaining wall, wood and rocks and as long as my planting areas don’t look junky, I’m fine with the less permanent look. I like to experiment and switch things up every once in a while anyway so this approach fits my personality as well.
I’ve tested a lot of plants out using burlap sacks and here are my favorites:
Strawberries, they love to be mounded and aeration is important. Our strawberries look really healthy when grown in sacks and produce a good crop.
Herbs look so natural in burlap and it makes me feel like I’ve created an herb garden that meshes well with its surroundings. Burlap provides a neutral color that lets the herbs take center stage.
Lettuce works well because the soil depth doesn’t need to be very deep for lettuce, arugula and spinach. I do start the seeds inside or in small containers first, or buy starts and transplant them into areas of the bag by cutting slits spaced apart.
List of all the plants I’ve grown in burlap and had success:
- Swiss Chard