Gardeners are a creative group, often coming up with terrific ideas to make gardening easier (raised beds being one, and there are plenty of new ones on the market today) or more pretty things to put out in the garden (some of the solar ornaments and do dads are fun, especially at night). One new container product that's been out a few years is called the Smart Pot. I give them two thumbs up, they make great sense for many reasons. First, they are super easy to use, very lightweight, but sturdy. And second, most importantly, plants grown in them develop very healthy, fibrous root systems. They are made of a porous fabric that helps aerate plant roots and prevent the roots from circling around in the container. Rather then circle, they grow more fibrous roots (called air-pruning), just ask anyone in the commercial tree growing world, they've been using them successfully for over twenty years! And research backs up the claims about increased fibrous roots grown in Smart Pots. Plant roots have nowhere to go once they reach the side of hard-sided containers, so they start circling around the root ball inside the container. In a Smart Pot once a plant root reaches the side it grows more lateral roots instead of circling. And this growth pattern is the same for any plant, including vegetables for the home gardener.
Smart Pot. They keep plants much cooler, which is a good thing in hot temperatures (we're finally getting some heat here in Denver). It's hard to over water Smart Pots, the porous material allows water to easily move through and drain. If using on concrete or wood surfaces, you should use a tray or plastic underneath them to prevent soil staining from the container. If using directly on the ground, no need to put anything under them. My three potato plants are growing in a bed right off our patio.
Many local garden centers sell Smart Pots, they are not expensive and will last a few years. My Smart Pots are showing little wear after three years of use. There are several sizes to choose from, so check their website. You will also find helpful information on how much soil to add and which size is best for the plants you will be growing.
They can easily be cleaned at the end of the season and stored flat over the winter. Try 'em, you'll like 'em! I sure do!