Has Anyone Used Cowpots Before?

I've been thinking about Cowpots.......



Has anyone used them before? Have you used them outside to start seeds?

I'm going to start seeds on my covered porch.



This message was edited Feb 1, 2010 1:45 AM

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

They sound good, but I think I read something on the winter sowing forum about the use of these. Might try doing a search.

Just today, I thought about toilet paper rolls (once the TP is gone). Wouldn't they break down into soil as well, and provide a good depth for new seedlings to grow? I know keeping them upright could be a challenge, but figured I could pack them in (vertically) to shoeboxes or tie a string/twine around a group of them if need be.

Douglasville, GA

I used cowpots last year for seed starting, and plan to use them again this year. They worked well, especially for things that don't like root disturbance. They are a little expensive, but worth the price if you want a head start on things like cucumbers. I have not used them outside, but they held their shape well indoors for 8 weeks, and gave the plants a little extra boost when planted


Thanks for your info. What did you have your CowPots sitting on?

I'm thinking I'll use a card table for the indoors sowing and still use our covered porch for the outdoors sowing.

Douglasville, GA


I used the 3 inch cowpots and put them in a 10 x 20 inch seed starting tray so that I could water them by just pouring water in the tray. Only 18 fit in that size tray. What kind of seeds do you plan to start?

Douglasville, GA


While I do plan to use cow pots again this year, I plan to start my tomato seeds in seedling trays and then transplant them into the cowpots- simply because of space issues.

I'm trying out several different seed starting systems this year. I have the pot maker from Gardeners Supply, which works to make small (just under 2 inches) pots from newspaper, which hold up a very short time- good for fast germinating plants to plant in the garden small.

I have also used Burpees ultimate seed starting system, which sorta worked.


Just flower seeds.

What seed soil do you use?

Douglasville, GA

I used Gardeners supply germinating mix for some and Ferry-Moorse organic mix for others. I liked the Gardeners Supply slightly better, but I the plants didn't seem to care. I have only started easy seeds.( basil, tomatoes, chives)

Make sure you wet the soil before you put it in your pots!


Is that the non organic soil at GS? I looked at both the organic and non organic soils at GS and thought they were the same with the exception for size and price.

What do you look for (ingredients) in soil for seeds?

I glanced today at the seed starter soil at Meijer (couldn't get a better look at it - DH was waiting in car). Don't get a chance to see what brand it was. Don't know how good it would be for starting seeds.

How do you water the seed pots? From the bottom or from the top? Have to go out Monday to find a small watering can for indoors seed starting.

Thanks for letting me know to wet the soil before adding it to pots! Just a little wet?

I'm curious why you use organic for some and non organic for others?


This message was edited Feb 11, 2010 1:27 PM

Douglasville, GA

My mix from GS was not organic, I bought the Ferry- Moorse organic because it was cheaper per pound than the Jiffy mix sitting next to it. I do grow organic vegetables, but don't know if the seed mix makes any difference. I'd really like to know if another gardener can tell us if there is any difference between organic and non-organic seed starting mix- or if it's a way to get us to pay more.

I am not an expert, so I just buy a well known brand of seed starting mix (lots of good ones out there)- I just look for soil-less and sterilized. I've had good luck the last couple of years starting seeds-here's what I do:

I put the seed-starting mix in a clean bucket or container, add hot water, and mix with my hands until it feels moist. Don't use any tools you may have used outside. The bags tell you how much water to add to so many quarts of mix, but I just eye-ball it. If it gets too wet you can still put it in your pots and let them drain.

I plant my seeds in seed starting tray or container, set them in a tray and cover with a dome to keep in moisture, and put them on a heat mat. Remove the dome or prop it open as soon as something sprouts

I water from below, and try not to over water. When the plants get their second set of leaves, I add a week solution of fertilizer to my water. I also use the grow lights from GS I hope I haven't bored you with things you already know


You haven't bored me! I'm very interested in all and any details/tidbits! Keep 'em coming!

Is the non organic GS mix you use the germinating mix?


Do you add the heat mat inside the tray, put the CowPots on top of it and then add water to the bottom of the pots (on top of the heat mat)?

Have you used this from GS?


Are either one (below) the grow lights you use from GS? Do these have cords that plug into an outlet, or by pulling the chains, do they turn on the lights? I can't tell from looking at the photos of the two links. We have 2 bunnies that roam around and I wouldn't want them chewing on any electrical cords. There is a light fixture above the card table that has six 60 watt smaller fluorescent lightbulbs which face the ceiling (not the cardtable, which would be better for seed starting. lol)



The second link has more 'stars' in the reviews.

I was at a local (not a chain store) garden center today, and found two boxes (12 in a box) of the 3" CowPots (that's all they had when I got there. There were more boxes of the 4" ones, but I'm trying to maximize my space, so I thought I'd go with 3" ones). At least I'll save on shipping when I get more of the CowPots since I already have 24 of them (at least that's what I'm telling myself). The ones I got were the 3" ones that weren't attached to each other like in this photo link http://www.gardeners.com/Cowpots-transplant-pots/SeedstartingAccessories_Cat,37-034RS,default,cp.html 2-3/4" Cowpots, Set of 4 6-Packs - Item #38-632

Where did you get the heat mat at? Does GS sell it by itself?

At the garden center, I looked at the seedling mixes they had and the ingredients in them. I didn't buy any since they all had a 'wetting solution'. I figured with the CP, that since you're not suppose to overwater because the pot is made from cow manure, that it wouldn't be a good thing in the mix. If I get the GS germinating mix, I won't have that problem.

Hey! I just saw the APS replacement parts that you can buy as needed! The only thing they don't sell by itself is the little 'table stand', as shown in the diagram. It's under the Capillary Mat and above the Reservoir in the diagram. (see link).


You use the grow lights and the plastic clear cover?

What about this setup for CowPots, seedling mix and a self watering tray?


I was reading some garden seedling magazines last night and realize that I can direct sow the Zinnia seeds in the containers after the last frost.

As I was looking at one of my GS catalogs that just came, one of the pages showed http://www.gardeners.com/Self-Watering-Transplant-Pots/SeedstartingAccessories_Cat,17172,default,cp.html

Do you (have you, need to) do this before planting the CP in containers or in the ground?

Thanks for all your help!!!

Welcome to Dave's Garden! I just noticed that you're one of the newest members! :-)


This message was edited Feb 13, 2010 12:26 AM

Douglasville, GA


Thanks for the welcome!

I used the germinating mix from GS, but not in the cowpots. I start the seeds in cell packs or seed starting trays set on a heatmat. You use a lot less germinating mix and can start a lot more seeds in a smaller space. I've had my heat mat for years, I probably got it from Lee Valley Tools. You don't have to use one, but it speeds up germination a lot.

When the seeds have sprouted, I take it away, and remove the clear cover. The seedlings don't need light until they sprout. When you transplant into the cowpot at about 3 weeks (depends on what you are growing) you can use potting soil. I just set them into a tray and water by pouring water into the tray. The self watering tray from GS probably works great, but I don't think you would need it-(unless you are going on vacation) the 3 inch size cowpots don't dry out very fast.

I only direct seed into the cowpots if it is something that hates root disturbance.

The cowpots don't fall apart if you overwater, but you will get fungus nats, and possibly damping off of your seedlings. So the wetting solution probably won't make a difference.

As for the lights, starting on a window sill didn't work for me, which is why I splurged on the T-5 light bulbs from GS. Hubby built a stand out of left over lumber and rigged up the lights on chains. It looks a little like the three tier one in GS.

Did I answer all your questions? Happy to help, but I'm not an expert- so take my advice with a grain of salt!

Storrs, CT

I have used them for 2 years. Gardeners supply is so expensive.... I got mine from http://www.organixresources.com/ the first time. This year I got them from http://www.theonlinegreenhouse.com/cowpots.html

These two may be your best bets. I am using them with Vermont Compost potting soil!

Foxboro, MA

This is my first year using cowpots. So far I'm quite happy with them. As long as you don't move them right after watering they don't seem to rip and there is virtually no odor. I'm curious to see how well they transplant. I usually top water, but have used bottom watering too. If they are covered too tightly they do grow mold. Because I hate transplanting seedlings I actually fill about 80% of the 4" pot with soil and the top inch or two with seed starting mix. I figure that's the best of both worlds.

This is the recipe that I use for soiless seed starting mix.

2-3 parts compost (less is more or it compacts)
2 parts peat moss
1 part perlite or vermiculite

I mix it all in a 5 gallon paint bucket and stir in some water right before planting. It's much easier to mix in the water in the paint bucket than once it's in the pots.

Storrs, CT

Microbiology1, I really like the idea of how you are using the 4 inch Cowpots!! I am trying so many new things this year... maybe not the best idea. But I'm having fun.

I love the Cowpots, pretty cheap from The Online Greenhouse, but I am trying some different soil amendments too. Kelp meal, Biochar, maybe some worm castings. that company has all those things.

What Im really looking to do is not use things like peat moss.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> What Im really looking to do is not use things like peat moss.

I became a real fan of shreded pine bark after I got the idea from Al / Tapla. You can buy it clean, dry and double-screened, or just find a good grade of medium or medium-coarse pine bark mulch and re-screen it yourself. But try to find mulch that has been stored dry. Wet inside a bag, it can ferment, and then you want to air it out well or even fluch it before using to start seeds.

You might consider the finest/smallest grades of bark as a direct replacement for peat moss.
The coarser grades of shreded pine bark stretch out a mix, make it less expensive and more airy.

If you like slightly faster drainage and better aeration than peat, screen the mulch quickly through 1/2" hardware cloth, and use what passs through. This may have a lot of fines in it if the "medium" grade of mulch was not double-screened. Personally, I like to remove the fines so the seedling roots find lots of air spaces.

For nice fast drainage, less water retention, lots of air in the mix and NO damping off because the surface dries quickly, use what passes through the 1/2" screen slowly with rubbing, and DISCARD what passes through it too fast. That may take a few passes over a screen held at a 30-40 degree angle. You can remove even more of the fines by discarding anything that passes through a 1/4" screen while pushing back and forth with the back of a steel rake. That's what I like! A fast-draining, airy mix. Then, over-watering and top-watering don't even matter!

If you like REALLY fine, spongy, water-retaining, slow-draining peat powder with not much air in the mix, you COULD buy fine mulch and use what passes THROUGH a 1/4" screen. That's not my way.

I use the fines as soil amendments for outdoor beds, and the coarse chunks as top-dressing mulch for the RBs. They break down slower than wood chips.

(Really small, surface-sown, light-needing seeds like petunias or lobellia can't be started on a coarse, dark surface. They fall into the cracks and get no light. Top-dress flats, pots or cells with medium or fine vermiculite and start those seeds on top of the vermiculite.)

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