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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cow Pots for Seed Starting, and Simple Lives Thursday

Hey readers!
It's MARCH and that means we're one step further from February (the worst month ever?) and one step closer to spring.  We've had a few days of warmish weather and they've been enough to stoke the flames of spring fever around here.  Melt is disgusting and messy, but I can't think of anything more beautiful than big puddles at the moment.  The light is starting to change, too, and hang around longer in the evenings.

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Today I'm going to tell you about a product I was sent recently by a really interesting company in Connecticut.
Early spring is the time to start seeds indoors in an effort to increase the growing season.  (You can peek at my operation in this post from last year and this one from 2009.)
When I first started seeds, I used small plastic containers because they were cheap and very easy to find.  The trouble with them is that they're very thin and break easily, so it's hard to reuse them and I hate to throw anything away that I don't have to.  So later I experimented with peat and coconut fiber starters, both of which are meant to be directly planted.  I thought the idea was brilliant and so much easier than trying to remove fragile seedlings from their small containers.  Unfortunately, neither of these materials broke down particularly well.  The containers were still hanging around all season long, which did not bode well for root growth.
I hadn't decided what approach to take this year when I received an interesting email from the people at Cow Pots.  I don't normally accept product offers, but this one spoke to me personally and I thought it was something I'd like to pass along to you, my readers.
Cow Pots are made of composted cow manure from the dairy run by second-generation farmers Matt and Ben Freund.  This excerpt from their website explains how their raw material is harvested:

"Since 1997, they are one of only a few farms across the United States to have continuously run a methane digester. This is a process in which the raw manure from the cows is heated and stored in a large tank. The methane gas is collected and burned. At the end of this process the solids are separated from the liquid. The liquid goes back to the field to grow next year’s crops which feed the cows. The solids continue composting. It is this composted manure that is weed-seed free, and is used to mold CowPots"

The pots will survive in normal seed starting conditions for up to 12 weeks, but break down within a month once put into the ground.  The material allows the roots to penetrate and easily breaks down, unlike peat pots.
This image shows my exact previous experience with plantable pots on the left, and the cow pot on the right.  (from cowpots.com)
They sent me a sampler pack with a few different sizes to try.
DSC00926(They are, indeed, odor free.)
DSC00929They look and feel like similar pots I've used in the past, so I plan to start seeds exactly the same way as I always have.
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I think this breaks down their selling points quite nicely:
These pots are better for unrestricted growth and they break down quickly.
Manure is a renewable resource, and using byproducts of the pastured dairy industry preserves the land.
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DSC00935I'm excited to experiment with these pots this season, and will be sure to post results here.  If you'd like to know more or order, go to their website.
Finally, it's Simple Lives Thursday, and there are already some excellent posts linked up.
Grab this badge, or one from these other hosts:

Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS
and Annette at Sustainable Eats

and link up your posts!


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