Photos © Ingrid Pullen
A permaculture plant nursery will contain the three ethics of permaculture design — Earth Care, People Care and the return of system surplus to the first two ethics. Part of earth and people care is the reduction and eventual replacement of non-biodegradable plastic plant pots, trays and bags.
The use of fossil fuel based plastic plant pots, trays and bags is the norm in the conventional plant nursery industry. Plastic pots and trays used in the plant nursery cause considerable work in their changing pot size, cleaning and time spent stacking for storage. Plants kept in pots for too long a period decline in health and have poor root development. The transplanting of plant seedlings from plastic pots into the soil can cause transplant shock and set back growth. The use of paper pots for vegetable and herb plants overcomes some of these disadvantages.
A paper pot maker kit consists of a dolly and a mould. A strip of paper is twisted around the dolly, the extended paper is folded down and the dolly is placed in the bottom mould. A twisting movement of the dolly tightens and compresses the paper, thus forming the paper pot. The paper pot is carefully removed from the dolly and filled with potting mix, up to a few millimetres from the top of the pot. Seed or seedlings can be placed in the potting mix in the paper pot. A mulch of vermiculite can be placed on top of the potting mix. This will protect the seed or seedling from any soil borne bacterial diseases in the potting mix.
The paper for the paper pot can be made on site from waste paper material. Soil conditioners, fertilisers and paper strengthening agents from natural material can be added to paper making mix. The treated paper will act as slow release fertiliser. The seedlings can be grown to a larger size than in plastic pots as the paper pots are directly planted into the soil.
Is the time and care taken to make paper pots well spent? Do plants have leaves?