Smart Pot raised beds are a good alternative to wood or plastic sided raised beds, especially in the colder months. A Smart Pot is a planting container made out of a breathable, synthetic fabric. They are lightweight and durable (mine have been up for over 3 years now), and have the unique ability to air prune the plants’ root structure by allowing the roots to grow through the fabric sides, dry up, and prune themselves off. This allows your plants to get bigger and healthier, with a stronger root system.
One of the best things about Smart Pots is that you can easily winterize them to extend the growing season by simply turning them into growing domes. The way I go about doing this is to create a domed roof with fiberglass row cover rods.
Depending on the size of the pot, you need anywhere from 3 to 6 rods to form a supportive dome over the container. This dome will be strong enough to hold up the structure in heavy winds and with a light snow load.
Things you will need:
1. 3 to 6 20′ Fiberglass row cover rods
2. A small piece of greenhouse or 6 mil plastic (greenhouse will perform better)
3. Twist ties – 1 or 2
5. Bungee cord or a strap that can be tightened (long enough to wrap around pot and tie off)
To get started, make sure the container is filled with soil, then slide the rods down the side, between fabric and soil, evenly spacing them in a circle, as shown.
Use quick ties to secure the rods at an axis in the middle. The final height of the dome will be determined by the width of the pot and the depth at which you sink the poles down the sides. I recommend you push them all the way down, using the bottom as a stop, to keep the poles from sinking down over time. Once your dome is up and stable, cut a piece of greenhouse plastic large enough to cover the dome and cover down the sides of the pot half way. This helps insulate the soil from cold air. Secure the whole thing by wrapping the bungee tightly around the pot about 6″ up from the bottom of the plastic. Bungee cord works great because it makes it easy to adjust the plastic tighter and it allows you to take the plastic on and off easily (please ignore the white duct tape in the picture). It’s not pretty, but it works.