DIY IKEA FRAKTA Grow Bags

How to build DIY grow bags out of IKEA bags.

In our household we love to grow our own vegetables and herbs. It feels very rewarding to grow our own food. In the summer you can always find a collection of vegetables growing on our balcony.

Last year we wanted to grow some okras, but we did not have pots that were big enough. Okras require a lot of soil and require deep pots if they are not grown directly in the ground.

Instead of buying pots, we decided to create our own DIY grow bags. We could have bought grow bags, but we prefer to upcycle things when possible. We still had some IKEA FRAKTA bags that were a perfect candidate for this upcycling project.

Three IKEA FRAKTA DIY grow bags, several potted plants and a cat on a balcony.
The finished grow bags in our balcony garden.

The IKEA bags need some modification before they can be used to grow fruits and vegetables. Before I show you how to make your own DIY grow bags, I will share some information on grow bags and on what I think makes them so great.

What are grow bags?

Grow bags are bags that are filled with a growing medium and that are used for growing crops. The growing medium can either be soil, or a soilless organic material.

The bags are often made out of a breathable fabric, and come in a variety of sizes. They are a great way to grow things like potatoes, tomatoes, okras and salad crops.

What are the benefits of grow bags?

When evaluating grow bags, they are most often compared to pots. So let’s look at some of the benefits of grow bags over pots:

Less risk of overwatering

Traditional pots are impenetrable. When watering their plants, it is possible to add too much water and over-water them.

It is important for roots to have access to enough oxygen. This is why a well-draining container is important. Too much water also encourages fungus- and mold-growth.

Grow bags are made from a porous material that allows excess water to easily leave the bag. This greatly reduces the chance of overwatering the plants.

The roots stay cooler

The breathable material that lets the water through, also lets heat pass through. This gives grow bags a temperature-regulating quality that helps keep the roots cool.

Pots can get very hot in direct sunlight, especially during the summer months. When the temperature of the roots gets too high, plant health is negatively affected.

The roots are healthier

A common problem when growing plants in pots is that the roots start (and keep) growing in circles, and end up constricted. This happens because when the roots reach the edge of the pot, they keep looking for nutrients and water.

This is referred to as a root bound or pot bound plant. The entangled roots significantly reduce the plant’s growth.

The opposite happens in a grow bag. When the roots reach the outside of the bag, they detect air and an absence of humidity. At that point, the roots know they can not grow further and they stop their own growth in a process called air-pruning. This leads to healthier roots and thus a healthier plant.

Less storage space

Pots take up a lot of space. If you want to put them away somewhere, they will take up valuable storage space. Alternatively, you can assemble them into an ugly stack that you leave in the corner of the garden or balcony for next spring.

We also keep our pots on the balcony in the winter. Aside from being not pleasant to look at, there is also a risk of damage. Freezing and expanding water in the pots can cause them to crack.

Grow bags can be folded when they are not in use. Their small volume allows you to store them practically anywhere. This means you save a lot of space in the winter.

How to make your own grow bags

It is quite easy to make your own DIY grow bags. You can modify existing bags, or use breathable fabric to sew your own grow bags from scratch.

It is important that the bags can drain well, they have the right volume for what you want to grow, and ideally they would have handles. The handles make moving the grow bags a lot easier when they are filled with soil. They can get heavy!

We used large IKEA FRAKTA bags (172.283.40) to make the grow bags. They had the right shape and volume for what we needed (to grow okras), and they already had handles.

The smaller variant (603.017.07) works just as well, it just has less volume. It all depends on what you want to grow and how much soil it needs.

We found that the fabric mesh of the FRAKTA bags was a bit tightly woven and we weren’t sure if it was breathable enough, so we added some extra drainage holes at the bottom to make sure the bags would drain well.

We had no experience using IKEA FRAKTA bags as grow bags before this, and we did not want to risk running into problems half-way throughout the summer.

The drainage holes are sealed with window mesh to make sure that the water can drain out, but the dirt stays in place.

Read on to learn how to create your own DIY grow bags out of IKEA FRAKTA bags.

Materials

Tools

How to make your own grow bags – Step-by-Step

Cutting the drainage holes

An IKEA FRAKTA bag with dotted markings, next to it an extended measuring tape and some pens.
Start by marking the locations for the draining holes in the bottom of the IKEA bag with a marker. I spaced the drainage holes 10 cm / 4 inch apart. This results in 4 drainage holes on each long side, and 3 holes on each short side of the bag.
An IKEA FRAKTA bag with several square holes cut out of it, with on top a drafting triangle, cutting template and a sharp blade.
Create a 3 cm / ~1 inch square carton template and use it to cut equal size drainage holes in the bag. On the inside of the bag I placed a large piece of carton. That way I would prevent cutting into the table.
The inside of an IKEA FRAKTA bag with several square holes for drainage cut out of it.
This is what the inside of the bag should look like after cutting all the drainage holes.

Installing the mesh

A stack of 6 cm by 6 cm window mesh squares next to a drafting triangle.
Cut the mesh into squares of roughly 6 cm / 2.5 inch. It is important that the mesh is larger than the holes, so that you can sew the overlapping mesh to the fabric of the bag.
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Alternatively, you can try using Window Screen Repair Tape.
I haven’t tried this myself, so I do not know how well it works. But if the adhesive sticks well enough, then it is an easier solution than sewing mesh to the grow bag.
A piece of square mesh being held in place with sewing pins over a square hole in an IKEA FRAKTA bag.
Turn the grow bag inside out and secure the mesh piece over the drainage hole. The easiest way of doing this is to use two sewing pins.
A close-up of a pair of hands using a sewing needle to sew a square piece of window mesh to an IKEA bag.
Sew the mesh to the bag. The type of stitch does not matter too much.
A a pair of hands using a sewing needle to sew a square piece of window mesh to an IKEA bag.
Sew the rest of the mesh squares to the bag.
The outside of an IKEA FRAKTA bag with four drainage holes that are covered by window mesh.
The outside of the grow bag should something like this after sewing.

Finishing up

A DIY IKEA FRAKTA DIY grow bag filled with potting soil next to several other plants on a tiled floor.
You can now add your growing medium of choice to the DIY grow bag.

After adding the soil, you can add the vegetables, fruits or herbs that you want to plant.

Conclusion

We had good success with the DIY grow bags. The okras grew very well throughout the summer. And after harvesting we did not have to find a place to store giant pots.

All in all this is a great upcycling project that allows you to grow potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, or any other crop you wish to grow on your balcony.

If you find this article useful, please share it or leave a comment. I love to hear your feedback and questions!

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