There are a lot of pots out there, and a lot of conflicting advice about materials to use as pots to start seeds. As an organic gardener I strive to use materials that interact with my soil, plants, seeds, additives, compost, tools, containers, etc. that are free of chemicals. I know, that is a hard thing to do in today’s society.
Almost everything we touch is made from or contaminated with some form of a chemical. That’s why I think it is worthwhile to make the effort to keep as many chemicals out of our life as possible, especially our food.
You see all kinds of materials used as a container (pot) for starting vegetable and flower plants. Just the other day I was disposing of an egg carton and remembered reading about using the bottom of the egg carton to start seeds. For a moment I hesitated, thinking that might be a good idea. Then, reality returned, and I remembered my purpose, which is to stay away from as many chemicals as possible.
So, I threw the carton into the recycle bag, also made of chemicals.
You will see all kinds of suggestions for “cheap” pots. Some use newspaper shaped into a pot, it works well, but again how do you know what chemicals were used to manufacture the paper and ink? If you want to try making paper pots you can find a pot shaper in garden catalogs. The good thing about using paper is that it can be planted with the plant.
People use all kinds of tin cans, aluminum containers, purchased plastic pots, the list is endless. Anything that will hold the soil and allow drainage will work, but remember our goal of staying away from as many chemicals as possible.
I have been starting some plants in a purchased plastic seed starting tray. But, the majority of my plants come from the hot bed. I do not get as fast of a start as I could using other methods, but it works well and the plants are very healthy.
Another thing I will do is to use peat pots. They are made from pressed peat, so the plants can be planted pot and all, pretty slick.
A method for starting plants that I have not tried is called soil blocks. The soil blocks are made from…soil. What a surprise. There is a tool you can buy that makes the blocks.
The soil is made from potting mix and pressed into individual blocks of soil. Each block is planted with one seed and the air space between blocks prevents the roots from growing into the neighboring block, until the plant get too big and needs to be moved.
Using soil blocks just might solve my problem of finding a safe container for starting my seeds indoors. I will let you know when I get ready to make the investment and how it works for me.
Until then, use your best judgment for finding the right pot for starting your plants. Whatever, you use will be way ahead of buying your plants at the nursery where they are doused with chemical fertilizer all the time.
The main thing is to get started on your path to a chemical free life. Do what you can now to get started and make changes as you learn.
Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. He started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family, too.