In the last few years I ran my greenhouses and nursery business, I switched the entire production to peat pots. I became disenchanted with selling hundreds of thousands of plastic pots and knowing they were simply being dumped into landfills. I did learn a ton about growing and gardening in this kind of organic pot in a big hurry and here are a few things you need to know.
- I prefer square to round because you get slightly more soil for growing your plant in a square pot. And they fit flats better without falling over.
- They are “messy” in that they don’t hold water but leak it everywhere so do plan on having a tray (without holes) underneath them at all times while you’re using them.
- Only get them wet when you decide to use them – they’ll be soggy mess otherwise if allowed to sit (remember they’re peat)
- Overwatering will cause algae to grow on the side of the pot. This isn’t a major problem but it is hard on the clean hands when you start transplanting. I never worried about it with my own plants. Length of time to grow.
Nurseries use plastic for the most part because it doesn’t break and can be shipped easier. The only time fibre pots are used now is for spring-dug and shipped plants. They’re not usually grown in these pots. Clay is now only used by some specialty nurseries (mostly the older ones)
Are There Differences In Growth?
There was no difference between plastic pots and peat when it came to actual growing time of the plants or plant performance. Both grew great plants for me.
However, the pots had a limited growing time before they softened right up and started to deteriorate.
If we transplanted perennials into them in February, by May the pot would be extremely soft and starting to break down. It often came apart in customers hands. This is good for the garden but not good for sales.
Shorter lengths crops such as vegetables and some annuals were fine. The pots would be softening up (and getting some algae on them) but were still salable.
On the home scale vegetable or annual garden, they are fine.
The one thing we did find with garden performance was that if you left a lip of the pot over the soil line, it would dry out.
The problem was that sometimes it would dry the entire pot out in dry soils. This meant that any tender roots that were trying to penetrate into surrounding soils were dried out and killed. As you might imagine, this isn’t a great way to grow a plant.
To prevent this, you need to remove the lip of the pot below the soil line in the pot. A haf-inch (1 cm) is fine for this.
And you need to keep the surrounding soil quite damp until the plant is firmly established and growing strongly.
But having said all that, I think peat pots are the best environmental option (Amazon) we have at the moment instead of plastic.
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