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Letter of Recommendation: CowPots, My Seed-Starting Secret Weapon

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Letter of Recommendation: CowPots, My Seed-Starting Secret Weapon

February 1, 2023

After I order my wish list of seeds, the fun begins: coaxing them to grow. Every year, I set up a makeshift “seed lab” in a corner of my New York City apartment. I clip a grow light to a bookshelf, pack a large bin with rows of CowPots filled with seed starting mix, and pop in the seeds (tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc). I keep them watered and I wait—not always so patiently—for the green sprouts to poke through the soil. It’s certainly not a romantic greenhouse, but it gets the job done.

One of the keys to success is the CowPots. I’ve been using these ingenious seed starting vessels for years. Unlike peat (a threatened, non-renewable resource) and plastic (usually unrecyclable and a material I’m doing my best to avoid), CowPots are made from composted cow manure—a very renewable resource. Plus, they’re produced in a zero-waste factory powered by solar panels and biogas. After the danger of frost has gone, I plant the odor-free pots directly into the ground, where the pots will decompose in a few months. No need to disturb the roots or worry about transplant shock. Now, I just need to wait for spring.

Photography courtesy of CowPots.

CowPots come in \14 sizes and shapes, ranging from small three-inch, six-pack cells to larger \16.5 inch diameter pots, which were originally designed for live Christmas trees.
Above: CowPots come in 14 sizes and shapes, ranging from small three-inch, six-pack cells to larger 16.5 inch diameter pots, which were originally designed for live Christmas trees.
Basil seedlings growing in a six-cell pack. Keep the pots hydrated and ventilated. “Ventilation helps to dry the CowPots walls between watering,” the company advises. “This will also encourage better plant growth by allowing plant roots to breathe and improves air pruning.” You’ll know it’s time to water when CowPots change color from dark to light brown.
Above: Basil seedlings growing in a six-cell pack. Keep the pots hydrated and ventilated. “Ventilation helps to dry the CowPots walls between watering,” the company advises. “This will also encourage better plant growth by allowing plant roots to breathe and improves air pruning.” You’ll know it’s time to water when CowPots change color from dark to light brown.
As the seedlings grow, their roots work their way through the walls of the CowPots. After a few weeks in the ground, the pots will begin to break down. They decompose faster than other biodegradable containers, according to a trial by Mississippi State University.
Above: As the seedlings grow, their roots work their way through the walls of the CowPots. After a few weeks in the ground, the pots will begin to break down. They decompose faster than other biodegradable containers, according to a trial by Mississippi State University.
The Freund family, who invented CowPots and run the company, are second and third generation dairy farmers in northwestern Connecticut. They process the tons of cow manure produced by their milking cows, separating the liquid from the solid. They then turn the composted solid material into CowPots, and convert the liquid into biogas by way of a methane digester, which they use to heat the farm.
Above: The Freund family, who invented CowPots and run the company, are second and third generation dairy farmers in northwestern Connecticut. They process the tons of cow manure produced by their milking cows, separating the liquid from the solid. They then turn the composted solid material into CowPots, and convert the liquid into biogas by way of a methane digester, which they use to heat the farm.
Solar panels on the farm generate power to help fuel the CowPots production facility and farm.
Above: Solar panels on the farm generate power to help fuel the CowPots production facility and farm.

For more on sustainable gardening, see:

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