I was intrigued when I saw this new range of environmentally friendly, fully compostable seed pots ‘becausewecare TM’ available in Ireland. I was therefore delighted to receive a package in the post from the distributor containing a selection of pots to try out.
Our choices are limited in the gardening world when we try to be ‘green’. Recycled plastic pots do exist (I love the colourful range by Elho) but when it comes to seed pots we usually have a choice of:
a) regular plastic pots
b) peat based pots
c) home made paper or cardboard pots
So, given our limited choices any initiatives to address this dilemma are worth considering.
The strange looking pots are made from a combination of cornstarch and biodegradable constituents that depending upon conditions, will start to break down, taking two to six months to decompose in domestic circumstances, sooner in industrial compost.
The legume family of vegetables (peas and beans) don’t generally like their roots to be disturbed so these ‘becausewecareTM’ pots seem the ideal vessel to sow pea seeds into. The seeds can be planted into compost and then the whole pot buried into the garden soil once they’ve germinated and grown on for a while.
Although pea seeds can be sown directly into soil we have to patiently wait for soil temperatures to warm up (10 – 12 degrees). Sowing them into compostable seed pots is therefore a way of starting them earlier, giving them a head start as the seedlings will already be established by the time the weather’s warmer (usually from March onwards).
Seedlings will also have a better chance of surviving a slug attack if they’re planted out with several leaves on as opposed to germinating directly in the garden soil and having their leaves nibbled off as soon as they appear.
I started a tray of peas off in newspaper pots three weeks ago but to give me a succession of peas to harvest, was keen to sow some more today.
When you first pick up the pots they’re very flexible but as soon as they have compost in (I used a Westland Peat Free compost) they firm up nicely. The flexibility of the pots makes them very versatile as instead of sitting rigidly in a tray leaving gaps, I was able to fit more seed pots in than usual, using up all the space in my washed food tray. (The tray makes the pots easier to handle and means you can water the tray rather than the seed pots).
If I wasn’t using my usual cardboard or paper pots, I would definitely consider using these as an alternative. I’ve yet to see how well they compost once they’re buried in the soil but will be keeping a close eye on them over the coming months.
Eco-toxicity tests have been undertaken on these pots and have been shown to have ‘absolutely no harmful effects on soil as part of the degradation process’.
If you don’t want to bury your pots with seedlings in, you can of course sow seeds into them, remove the seedling and transplant as traditionally done with plastic pots, rinsing the pots off and re-using them. These compostable pots are said to have a shelf life of two years and once they start to disintegrate, can be added to the compost heap along with kitchen scraps.
The “becausewecareTM“ compostable pots are available from a limited number of garden centres around Ireland (see the website for local stockists), or online from Irish Green Award finalist The Secret Garden Centre at €4.95 for 25 three inch pots.