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On Gardening: The greenhouse pot has become an ecological marvel

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

No longer will trays of flower transplants create a mess, a sore back from picking them up and clutter in the garden shed with thoughts of future use. Thanks to the Eco+ Grande Pots that caught most of us by surprise at the garden center this year, we can now simply pull four tabs and plant them in the hole — a true ecological wonder.

Son James alerted me that racks of beautiful bedding plants were showing up for sale and on display at major garden centers, and what did I know about the new plantable Eco+ Grande containers? My first thought was, "Why doesn’t The Garden Guy already know about this?"

It was several hours before I could get to the garden center to check them out. When I arrived, every plant had been sold. How could this be? Did the customers know they were buying the latest in science, technology and environmentally friendly containers, or was it the beautiful flowers? Unbelievably, the scenario repeated twice before we both got our hands on some bedding plants in the new pots.

You are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Well first, you would swear these pots are plastic, but they are not. They are plant-based, developed from corn, sugar beets and switchgrass. Without getting too scientific, a biopolymer is made that resembles plastic. The Proven Winners Eco+ Grande containers have nutrients built in to the walls of the containers. The organic nutrients are rich in phosphorus, calcium and nitrogen. As the containers — which are planted directly into the soil — break down, nutrients are released to the roots all season long.

The process is simple: You peel off four tabs on the bottom of the pot before placing them in the planting hole. Removing the tabs is essential for roots to be properly exposed to the soil and begin growth. The containers and removed tabs can be planted in landscape beds or your favorite mixed containers. Water your plants well after planting. The Eco+ Grande containers will gradually disintegrate over time, helping to feed the plant's roots.

By planting the entire container into the soil, you minimize root disturbance, you don’t have to fret about weekly feeding or worry about fertilizer runoff. Since climates and environmental conditions differ over a long growing season and across the country, the size of pieces left in the soil may vary and can simply be tilled in for the next growing season.

Son James planted a couple of flats of Blue My Mind evolvulus grown in the Eco+ Grande containers. He used a Proven Winners Twist n’ Plant Original Gardening Auger with a cordless drill. This made the project rapid as the container slipped perfectly in the hole. The Garden Guy was relegated to planting with a shovel or trowel.

 

One way to look at Eco+ Grande is like power in a package. We have all planted trays of flowers and then moaned with the effort it takes to go pick up the little plastic pots. Then we think, maybe we save and use them, maybe we will recycle. The next thing we know we have crossed over the line to the cluttered garden shed.

If for some reason you elect not to plant your Eco+ Grande in the ground, know they are environmentally friendly and compostable, whether it is the city compost system or on your own. Proven Winners was involved in years of research on the new Eco+ Grande, and as they say, they didn’t have to drill for oil to produce them. You have to admit it, with award-winning flowers grown in an Eco+ Grande it is a great time to be a gardener. If you see them for sale, I hope you will give them a try.

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(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

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