It’s that time of year in Portland again when folks in mud-caked boots appear with hoe in hand, coaxing the fragile starts of their favorite fruits and veggies to take root. Huffing and puffing in their yard, or in one of the 35 community gardens located throughout Portland, urban farmers faithfully carve precious time in their schedule and brave the elements in the hopes of bringing a bounty of healthy eats home to enjoy.

But there’s an easier way to enjoy the fruits of hard labor: Container gardening! Need convincing? Here are some reasons you should give space-saving gardening a try:

  • No need to plan around Portland’s unpredictable weather and your busy schedule.
  • Growing plants makes you feel better! Research shows that some indoor plants clean the air of toxins and that tending a garden can lower blood pressure, increase attentiveness and reduce overall stress.
  • Container gardening makes use of the most minimal of indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • You’ll have a year-round supply of your favorite fruits and vegetables, regardless of your geographic location.
  • Indoor edible gardens are safe from nature’s scavengers, such as raccoons, opossums and deer.
  • No more (or greatly reduced) need to stay on top of weed growth.

Almost any object can be used for container gardening: the black plastic pots that plants come home in, pots purchased from garden supply stores, wooden barrels, and even toddler swimming pools. But these solutions aren’t ideal for the health of your plant’s roots because of inadequate drainage and the possibility of containers deteriorating and leeching chemicals and wood rot into the soil.

Woolley Pocket wall garden at Emerald Petals.
Woolley Pocket wall garden at Emerald Petals.

A better option for sowing a sustainable, low-maintenance, container garden is to use breathable, flexible fabric pots and pouches made from recycled materials. These kinds of containers are good for year-round use and provide superior plant insulation by protecting plants from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. Cloth containers are sturdy enough to hold a variety of types and sizes of plants, are lightweight and easy to move, and can be attached to or placed on most surfaces to create an edible jungle just about anywhere.

Portland-area urban farmers who want to optimize their garden space with an environmentally-friendly container garden solution—or create garden space where there is none—should check out the products made by Root Pouch and Woolly Pocket. Both are businesses that manufacture and sell alternative, inexpensive, soft-sided containers made from recycled materials that are great for healthy container gardens.


Root Pouch

Root Pouch vertical garden. Photo: Root Pouch
Root Pouch vertical garden. Photo: Root Pouch

Based in Portland, Root Pouch was created by horticulturalists to help reduce the number of plastic pots that end up in landfills. Ashley Fromm, one member of the ambitious company of four at Root Pouch, says their headquarters has a nature-filled “imaginarium” office space with couches for daydreaming up new ways to protect the environment. “We use old windows hung up for use as whiteboards to capture ideas.”

Appropriate for outdoor use, flexible and sustainable Root Pouch containers keep the eco-minded gardener close to home.

Vertical Pouches and Saddle Bags

Vertical pouches come in single, double and triple units and are attached to walls with hardware. The saddle bags can be draped over fence tops and handrails and come in large single and doubles and a smaller “urban” size.

Degradable Plant Pots

Washable, re-usable Root Pouch pots come in size small to enormous and naturally degrade if planted in the ground or sent to the landfill. The color of the fabric indicates the pot’s life-span (from 15 months to 6 years) and encourage healthy plant roots.

Find Root Pouch products at Cornell Farms, 8212 Southwest Barnes Rd, 503.292.9895 and Root Pouch, 1321 NW 17th Ave, 503. Available soon at Drake’s 7 Dees.

Woolly Pocket

Woolley Pocket saddle bags by Emerald Petals.
Woolley Pocket saddle bags by Emerald Petals.

West Coast-based Woolly Pocket’s felt-like containers feature military-grade moisture barriers and UV-resistant nylon thread and come in multiple colors. They fold flat for storage and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor gardens, which helps keep your garden clogs mud-free.


Freestanding and available in a variety of colors, sizes and heights, Islands are shaped like an onion. Because of their moisture barrier, there’s no need to worry about leaking. Some Island styles come with zippers to accommodate any shape of plant.


Like building blocks, Meadows come in small and large squares that can be grouped together to make any sized garden you want. There are two depths available.


Sold in units of one, two and three pouches, a Wally easily creates an edible, vertical garden on any type of wall surface. It has a long “tongue” that wicks water to the plant’s roots. The indoor Wally has a moisture barrier to keep water in a reservoir in the bottom and not on the floor below it. “They do a really good job at protecting the wall,” says Lindsey Quinn from Digs-PDX, a garden supply store located on NE Alberta Street that carries the Wally.

Find Woolly Pocket products at Dig Garden Shop, 425 NW 11th Ave, 503.223.4443; Digs, 1829 NE Alberta St, 503.460.3447; Emerald Petals, 4220 N Mississippi Ave, 503.719.4503; Garden Fever, 3433 NE 24th Ave, 503.287.3200 and Relish, 1715 NW Lovejoy St, 503.227.3779.

Container garden curious? Check out these classes for more information on edible container pot and pocket gardening:

Portland Nursery
May 7, 11 a.m.
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Growing Gardens
May 18, 6 p.m.
Event details