By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source of for growing tomatoes in the home garden.
There are several different types of biodegradable seed starting pots to use when you grow tomatoes from seeds.
Their distinct advantage is convenience. Seeds are sown directly into potting mix inside the pot. There they grow until it’s time to harden them off and place them in the garden.
At planting time, there’s no need to remove the seedling from its container. Tomato seedlings move straight to the garden, rather than being pulled from one “home” and stuffed into another during a normal repotting process.
This saves mess (for you) and reduces transplant shock (for the plant).
In addition, biodegradable pots can improve your soil. After you plant a seedling, the pot’s organic material itself breaks down in the soil over the course of the season.
Plus, biodegradable pots don’t need to be stored, cleaned, or disinfected every year.
Biodegradable pots are environmentally-friendly and an all-natural approach to starting tomato seeds. Because they are constructed from natural materials, they can be more susceptible to mold. Good circulation and light keeps pots healthy.
One consideration to remember, though: biodegradeable pots must be replaced every year.
Yet all in all, biodegradable seed starting pots are a terrific option to use when you grow tomatoes from seeds. Read on to compare different kinds to decide which is right for you.
Fiber pots, also called “peat pots,” are the most commonly-recognizable of biodegradable seed starting containers. They made of wood fiber and peat (hence their name). Roots easily grow through the fiber pots and soft-walled peat – both while they are developing seedlings and later, when set in the garden. Fiber pots come in all sizes, shapes, and styles. They are also available in a wide variety of quantities, which is useful if you are a hobbyist who simply wants to start a few tomato seedlings or if you want to grow hundreds of tomato plants.
Several manufacturers offer fiber pots in different shapes and sizes. Jiffy Pots, a popular and inexpensive choice, are available at retail outlets and online. They are made from Canadian sphagnum peat moss and wood pulp.
Cowpots, a fairly new product, are made from dried, composted manure combined with natural fibers. The mixture is pressed into forms that produce natural and biodegradable seed starting pots. Cowpots have an additional advantage over traditional fiber pots. Not only do their natural fibers break down in the soil, but the dried compost also adds nutrients. They are 100% organic … a plus for organic gardeners and certainly an important feature to the Connecticut dairy farmers who developed them.
There are several reasons paper pots are the preferred for tomato seed starting by many gardeners. Probably most important, paper pots are cheap. You can make them yourself with a simple gadget. You can also use discarded toilet tissue rolls.
And of course, paper pots are biodegradable. You transplant pot and all right into the garden where the paper breaks down and roots spread.
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