Disruptive technologies have now grown into the nursery plants and landscape industry. In this mature marketplace of proven best practices and natural systems seems an unlikely place for revolutionary practices to occur, but with a new twist on a proven technology a Midwest business has developed a product that will save money, time and increase the likeliness of plant success.
SelfEco Garden has created a fully compostable pot with built-in plant food in the container material that naturally feeds the roots to produce bigger and healthier plants. When a plant is ready to be installed, the pots are designed with tabs on the side that can be peeled off. Installers can then place the pot directly into the ground with the seedling fully intact.
Owner of the Stillwater, MN based SelfEco Danny Mishek explains, "We call it direct-source feeding. You're feeding the roots instead of feeding the topsoil of the plant."
Translation to the plant growing industry - SelfEco pots allow faster growth of plants with less use of fertilizers while saving material and labor costs. Also, with unsuccessful plants or losses, nurseries can compost everything together (plants and pots) which can also save on labor and space.
All of the conventional plant containers purchased for garden starters, plugs, and all the way up to trees are made out of virgin petroleum-based product. According to a Virginia Tech Study, an estimated 300,000 pounds of pot plastic material are sent to landfills every year. We have all had leftover pots stacked up in our potting sheds, waiting for another use - most of the time we just end up sending these out with the trash.
So how does the SelfEco pot work and can it be verified? Mishek explains that this isn’t new technology, just a twist on proven science, "Throughout the growing season, the material decomposes and feeds your plants,” says Mishek. Each pot decomposition scenario is different based upon the soil type, amount of water and exposure to sunlight, he explains, "Whatever minimal pieces are left after the growing season can be tilled up as fertilizer for next growing season or put into a compost pile. In most situations, the remnants from the pot won't interfere or be noticed by the gardener."
A looming pain point for any nursery is that the end customer or retail partner may demand a landfill free product for environmental or storage goals. An economic driver relates to the dirty secret is that anything landfilled has taxes (over $0.70 per ton in some counties) along with tipping fees. With Selfeco pots the need to separate plants from pots and landfill fees are removed for both the nursery and the end customer - there are no taxes on composting.
With any disruptive product, being cheaper and more ecofriendly can’t be the only hook – with SelfEco this was only a byproduct of their goal of having greater plant success. As an installer or retail nursery plant operation your plants represent your business long after the sale is complete. This double judgement can cut both ways on plant returns, customer retention and, with installers, along term liability for project surety/completion. Pot shock on more delicate plants can setback the growth of plants dramatically. With SelfEco – the revolutionary design solution is the peel off tabs on all sides - no need to disrupt the roots, just plant, water and walk away. The only thing you will disrupt is the amount of waste from your project. Will this add value to your work? Please let us know your impressions and where you see this helping or hindering sales, operations or installations.