June 9, 2011
I was reading the new posts here and read that an other member had bought a new plastic container for his plants. I began replying to his post but the reply was becoming bigger and bigger and new thoughts kept adding to that thought process and so thought of starting a new thread here.
I wanted to have a poll running with options to gauge what the members here think about using plastic in their garden. Maybe GG can add this feature to the forum.
We went to an exhibition at the trade centre and found wonderful plastic rectangular trays (sold by the bathroom plastic folks) and also mud-container-looking plastic ones. Very very tempting, I must say. When I began gardening, rather began thinking about how I would layout my small balcony a month back I was along the lines of max/optimal use of a rectangular piece of floor-space. This naturally lead to rectangular containers, which further lead to plastic containers. We do not easily find mud rectangular ones. We searched and searched on the streets only to find concrete ones. These though rectangular are very heavy and would eat a lot more space because of its slight-slanting edges. So we dropped the idea. Next we reached Big Bazar. Great plastic ones there. These were tempting. I went to the bathroom section and found tubs/buckets in plenty and which would suit my garden. There was a Thailand made hanging pot as well. But suddenly something struck me and said – hey, I should not promote plastic.
I dropped the idea then and there. Went for many mud pots. It has a very natural feel to it and can easily assimilate back to earth , though plastic might be neat and would win the beauty contest. But I feel beauty is just skin-deep. Inside stuff is what matters the most – you can take this principle to anything – any object living or dead.
Even today at the exhibition it was very luring. But I stuck to the policy of not getting any plastic for plants. It sort of defeats the concept of going green, eco friendly, grow-more-trees, grow-green, go organic whatever you may call them. So, some food for thought.
I am sticking to the rule of – if one has plastic containers at home and are thinking to throw them then you could use it instead of it going to the dump yard for burning. Maybe you might say these are re-cycle-able ones. If so how do you make sure they are really recycled. One just throws them away and it still lands up in that truck to the dumpyard? Or do they segregate it and send it for recycling. With mud pots we are sure!
I use one tub in my garden which we used when my 7 yr old was a 7 month old. Since wifey was going to throw it. I was not that concerned about plastic 7 yr back! I plan to use a water can which my neighbour while shifting had put in the dust-bin. I might even stretch it to say that we could go to paper-raddhi-wala shops and lift old plastic cans which is also sort of ok. Wifey has been living with old plastic buckets (we just have 2) and one tub for the past 7 yrs. No new ones purchased. She talks about getting new ones but I keep telling her not to get a new one unless its completely unusable. She has done a commendable job so far I must say to eco-friendly in her own way by not buying any new ones. But she insists that she would get a new one and I could use the old one for the garden. This is not fair and should be discouraged by all.
Mom was saying but once you buy these you will be using for a long long time and so its ok. But what after it wilts in the sun and starts leaking??? I eat up 10 containers and the manufacturer makes 10 more and the shops fill them back again. It is as much important to discuss this as is to discuss about growing plants. So the poll is:
- I dont use any plastic in my garden.
- I only use old/throwable plastic in my garden which is only a small percent of all containers used.
- I replace the old plastic with new ones and reused the old pastic.
- I purchased plastic containers for my garden.
Looking a bit further beyond gardens.
- Our kitchen waste goes into a plastic bag which is in the bin. This plastic bag goes into a bigger bag at the apartment level. Many such bags at the street level and many more at the city level.
- All rice, wheat, pulses, greens go into plastic and onto super-market shelves.
Wifey insists that there be atleast some plastic bags so that she can use it the next day as garbage bag. We could use >40 micron bags probably. Or as some one suggested that we use the bin direct and wash and sun-dry the bin every day. That becomes our contribution. But will the apartment service ladies accept trash without it being trash-bagged?
I saw vinyl print banners/wall-papers for sale at the exhibition too. I could post a brick-wall poster on one wall of the balcony to give a nice effect of the garden but vinyl?? Its toxic! Or is it? Its debatable atleast on the net. So maybe I can paint the wall in the form of a brick-wall with say a eco-friendly paint!!!
In short the key is reduce and avoid wherever possible and constantly ask oneself very honestly as to if I can live without it. If so reduce your C footprint and feel good about saving mother earth.
Please send the poll response and your thoughts as well.
Both plastics and mud pots have pro's and con's. I have a mix of both of them in the garden with a preference towards mud pots.
Plastic containers / pots - Pros'
1. Lightweight and more sturdy - more easy to move around.
2. Relatively easy availability of large pots and different sizes. Very unfortunate, but making clay pots is a dying profession due to being economically unviable and lack of availability of clay, firewood/charcoal and large ovens for baking pots. It a laborious process. One of the earth pot dealers mentioned is it difficult to bake the clay for large pots. They break and crack easily and the loses are large it seems.
3. Most of times can reuse what is commonly available. Eg. paint containers, broken tubs..etc
Plastic containers / pots - con's
1. Proper drainage is necessary. Water can stagnate and can lead to rot in the roots.
2. Eath pots "breathe" - they help maintain moisture and temperature by evoporation which is a very valuable freature for plants and vermicompost bins.
Concreate ones are the least preferred as they have no pro's. other than being available in all sizes.