Every gardener will be the first to admit that they have a hoard of plastic pots in their yard, garage or garden shed.
And of course the longer they can go on using and re-using those plastic pots, the better. It prevents plastic filling up landfills or breaking down to add to the horrendous plastic problem in our waterways and oceans.
Many plastic plant pots are black - and black is apparently impossible to recycle.
With all the current concern about single use plastic, now is the time to re-think whether you really need to acquire any more plastic pots? And it is not just pots, there are other items we use frequently as gardeners. As well as plant pots, other examples include: seed trays, root trainers, fertilizer and compost bags, growing bags, cloches and more.
The good news is that there are alternatives to those plastic pots...
How to replace some of the plastic in your garden life
A more expensive option but, when looked after, these attractive pots will last indefinitely. Terracotta pots are made from baked clay, allowing air and water to pass through the walls of the pot, to promote healthy plants by staving off root rot and disease caused by over watering. However, this can also cause the soil to dry out quickly, which can mean more watering.
These are another suggestion and are available in both round and square shapes. They are made of coconut husk fiber from organically grown coconuts
and are a waste product of coconut farms. What could be better?
Researchers are constantly working on developing and improving large cardboard pots that are water resistant. At the same time, gardeners can also save and re-use their own cardboard tubes of different sizes for growing small plants and seedlings.
Toilet roll cores
Save as many of these as possible because if you wet them first in, they become pliable. Then fold the bases (envelope style) to form the bottom of a pot - or if you make four little snips in the end of the tube you can fold them in like a box. Left to dry, they are soon ready for planting up. Once your plants have grown sufficiently to go into the ground, you can leave them in the toilet roll core as this will soon break down in the soil.
Bamboo pulp pots
Very strong, and with a similar appearance to plastic pots, these bamboo pulp pots will keep going for at least three years of service before starting to break down. Placed in a compost bin in the garden, they will continue to disintegrate becoming part of soil improvement.
How to make your own eco-friendly seedling pots
Here is the recipe:
- You will need a pile of newspapers, a glass bottle to act as a mould, scissors, potting soil - and just a little patience!
- Using your bottle as a guide, cut several wide strips of newspaper at a time so they reach halfway up the bottle.
- Wrap the paper around the bottle.
- Fold excess paper towards bottom of bottle. It is useful if the bottom of bottle is slightly concave.
- Remove pot from bottle. The inside of the pot will have a raised bottom which you can then press flat.
- Fill with soil immediately to make the pot steady.
The final product is ideal for small plants as they can be put very tightly together and, when the plant is ready to be put into the ground, you can plant it with pot still on as the paper will gradually break down in the ground.