Chances are you’ve seen the tiny pressed pods of compressed soil known as “peat pots” at the local nursery before. Many people like to get their seeds started indoors, and a great way to do so is by using biodegradable containers like peat pots. To make sure plants get the best possible start, you’ll also need to work a slow-release plant food into your potting soil. Here’s how to get started:
When the weather is right, you’ll want to find a good spot for your seedlings in your yard or garden. If you’ve been growing out of peat pots until now, try your best remove the mesh from each container without damaging any root systems. Many plants will remain entangled in that mesh for far too long a time — even if it does eventually biodegrade. Be extra careful when transplanting pressed-earth pots. Weeks of watering usually weakens the integrity of these containers, making it quite easy for them to fall apart. This is also a good thing, though, since it means you just can dig a hole big enough for the pot, place it in the ground, and fill in dirt where needed. The pots will fully disintegrate into the soil within a few weeks, leaving the roots completely free to grow.
Picking the Right Container
Depending on where you live, you may have to continue monitoring and watering your seeds for up to eight weeks. In most areas, three or four weeks should be fine. Try your best to plant hardier varieties about two weeks before the last frost of the winter, and wait until that frost passes to start those summer varieties that can’t take hard freezes. During this time, you may see some seeds shoot up and others remain rather tiny. To encourage growth, add one or two more granules of Osmocote to each container, which will take months to fully release but begin working almost immediately.
Choose a biodegradable container that works for you. Most are made from compressed earth or fine mesh. In either case, you’ll want to put them in a plastic tray of some kind to prevent too much water from seeping through them. Some biodegradable containers are even placed inside “mini greenhouses,” whose dark plastic bases and clear plastic roofs both trap and circulate excess water. These containers can be especially good if your home is not particularly warm and you want your plants to be able to retain all the sunlight they get during the day. You don’t need to worry about the mini-greenhouse not being biodegradable, either, because a single one will probably last you several growing seasons.
Plant one or two seeds per container and label each row accordingly. After all, it’s very easy to forget what plant is what until they are actually growing, so this step is especially important. Planting any more than two seeds per pot can easily lead to overcrowding. It’s better to just grow that third plant later on than it is to risk letting it choke out your other two seedlings.
If you’re trying to keep plants small, small containers can actually be a good thing. But if you want to grow bigger plants, you need to give their roots enough space to “spread out” 🙂
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the paper towel germination method!
These seedlings are begging to be transplanted to bigger pots (especially that big one on the bottom!)
Before you can start transplanting, you need to germinate your seeds. I recommend the “paper towel” method for germination because this method is easy and hard to mess up! Learn About Other Ways to Germinate Seeds!
You don’t want cannabis transplant shock!
Transferring to a bigger container at this stage will prevent your seedling roots from becoming rootbound and “choking” themselves because they get all wrapped around the outside of the soil. The outside circling of the roots prevents the plant from using water and nutrients properly, so you often end up with droopy seedlings and hard-to-explain nutrient deficiencies.
The truth is, your seedlings will thrive whether you start in a big or small container as long as you take good care of them! Neither way is the “best” method; it’s more a matter of personal preference.