Last 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.