The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

March 21, 2019

Spring Gardening with Orta Plastic-Free Self-Watering Seed Pots

I first ran across Orta plastic-free self-watering seed pots last Spring at the Temescal Farmers Market in Oakland, CA. I wanted to review it back then, but what with buying a new home in Maryland, caring for my dad, and then the extreme heat of the Maryland summer, it never happened. So, here I am in Spring 2019 trying again.

Anne Fletcher from Orta sent me a plastic-free, zero-waste seed starting kit to review. The kit came with two sizes of self-watering terracotta seed pots (handmade in Oakland, CA), seed starting mix in a paper sack, a and a few packets of seeds.

If the wrapper around the planters looks like plastic, it’s not. It’s actually a type of naturally-translucent vellum paper.

The kit came surrounded by 100% recyclable cardboard “honeycomb pads,” which protected the terracotta pots just fine.

And the seed starting mix came in plain paper without plastic.

I love that Orta explains its plastic-free packaging right on the packaging itself. The seed starting mix bag has a note that says, “We package our mix dry to avoid using plastic bags.” And the Orta website is just full of information about reducing plastic.

So, yesterday morning, I took everything out of the box and got ready to plant some arugula. I mixed up the seed starting mix in a bowl with water.

Then, added the wet mix to each pocket in the terracotta pot, added a few seeds, and covered them over. Finally, I took out the cork and filled the pot’s chamber with water. The water in the chamber will seep through the pores in the terracotta to keep the seeds watered all week, which is much gentler on them than watering from above.

I did notice a bit of water dripping out from the drainage holes in the bottoms of the seed pockets (maybe I added too much water to the potting mix initially), so I set the planter on top of one of the honeycomb pieces.

I’m leaving tomorrow for a week-long meditation retreat. The planter is on a table on my sunny porch. I’m hoping that by the time I get back, there will be little arugula sprouts showing their heads. I’ll update this post with my progress as the plants grow (or don’t grow.) Stay tuned.

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