Another Great Use for Cow Manure

cowpots.jpgLast night, I decided to start paging through the growing stack of garden catalogs. Currently half a crate full of them sits next to my reading chair, and the big rush won’t arrive for another week or two. As I mentioned in an earlier post, sustainability is a hot-button issue with gardeners and you can see it in the new products catalogs are advertising. Gardener’s Supply has a 40 percent price cut on its portable cold-frames that allow gardeners to extend the growing season for their food crops, and the assortment of containers for storing food waste before it goes to the compost pile seems larger and prettier than ever. All very tempting, but the product that had me fingering the old credit card was Cowpots–a seedling pot made out of dried cow manure!

Cowpots were designed by a pair of Connecticut dairy farmers, who are also brothers. Like most dairy farmers, they needed to figure out what to do with all the manure their cows produced. They use the methane from the manure for energy on the farm (how that’s done is beyond my pay grade) and then dry the manure. The brothers, Matt and Ben Freund, figured out a way to combine the manure with fibers and glue and then bake it into a container perfect for seed starting. The container holds its shape for months, then biodegrades in a few weeks after planting. No plastic pots to deal with, and the manure provides nutrients to the plant.

Sometimes in the spring, with all the six-packs and stray yogurt cups of seedlings around here, it feels like I’m growing more plastic than plants. Still, when you are thinking about sustainability, does it make sense to have manure pots shipped from the East Coast when I’ve got plenty of yogurt cups? It’s something to ponder as I page through all those garden catalogs.

5 Replies to “Another Great Use for Cow Manure”

  1. Where did you see these pots? I am a new manager in a retail nursery and I would love to put my perennials into a biodegradable pot. The manure pot is a new one to me. Please fill me in!
    Thanks, Ann

  2. Ann: I saw the pots in Gardener’s Supply catalog, but I’m pretty sure you can order directly from the company. They seem to be friendly and responsive people. Just click the link in the post to get to their web site.

    Thanks for visiting, Mary S.

  3. I’m guessing you’re not a fan of the show ‘Dirty Jobs’ with Mike Rowe? They did an hour episode a year ago about the farm and the guys who make these. Was pretty interesting stuff. I’m not sure, but I think I blogged about it at the time.
    And since you live in the great white North, (I live in a different, but still, great white North) I was wondering if you’ve ever tried a technique with recycled milk jugs and other containers called WinterSowing? It sure lifts my spirits in the middle of winter. Ahhh, to play in dirt with a blizzard howling outside is bliss! Especially with the hundreds of plants you end up with!
    Try here for info:
    Wintersown.org
    or here:
    Winter Sowing Forum

  4. Tina: We don’t have cable so I’ve never seen that show. (If I had HGTV, I’d never get anything done!) I have heard of winter sowing, though. In fact, the MN Horticulture Society had a class on it earlier this year. I am considering trying it with some of my seeds this year. Thanks for visiting the blog!

  5. No HGTV? Trust me…you aren’t missing anything. Most of us gardeners have decided they really need to remove the ‘G’ as they have crap for gardening shows and have turned the whole line-up to remodeling and home design or 5 minute “slap ’em in the ground” makeovers. ~sigh~
    Anyway, I’m really impressed (and so very glad) that the Hort Society actually had a class on WS! If you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with this method – think it’s the best thing since sliced bread! lol. I’m sure people are really sick of me mentioning it in their comments by now.
    But, thanks to wsing and some ridiculously generous gardeners who sent me their extra, leftover seed, my flowerbeds don’t look quite so half-a**ed anymore.
    Gardeners are great!
    You should give it a try.
    Sorry, I really can’t help it.

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