Our Journey to finding the best seed starters for the Oasis BoxesMay 03, 2023
As parents and grandparents, we want to encourage our children to learn and engage with the world around them. Gardening is an excellent way to foster this curiosity. But should we use supplies and materials that could harm the environment and our health, in the name of growing local food?
I strongly believe that the answer to that is a resounding no!
As a mom and the owner of this small business, I know firsthand how important it is to teach kids about sustainability and environmental responsibility. I also know that moms and dads are super busy and most, even though would love to expose their kids to the joyful experience of growing food, don’t have the know-how or the capacity to add gardening to their daily lives.
And that’s the inspiration behind the Oasis Box, the gardening subscription box for kids.
And that’s why inside our boxes, we strive to include everything they need to grow their food from seeds, soil, instructions, and even seed starter pots.
But we very quickly realized that the traditional plastic seed starter pots were not aligned with our values, and they didn't align with our grower families’ values either. That's why we set out on a 3-year-long journey to find a better solution.
We tried everything from paper to jute bags, but none of them met our standards. Paper cups dissolved and got moldy when exposed to water. They are also horrible at holding on to moisture!
Most paper pots are too big to include in our boxes anyway!
Jute bags were not clean enough as they are not manufactured for growing and also got moldy. Honestly many of the paper pots that are supposed to be manufactured for growing get moldy too! We even tried to sterilize the jute bags in our facilities and that proved to be difficult and also ineffective.
Then we found the so-called bio-degradable nursery bags! What a fraud! What a disgrace! We fell for it at first, I have to admit. And it took a conscious and aware mom in our membership community to speak up and make us aware that even though these grow bags are claimed to be bio-degradable, they are made out of plastic, and after degrading they add a disgusting plastic soup to our gardens. Yuck! So, after doing research and confirming this, we quickly removed it from our boxes.
We knew we had to keep searching for a solution that was sustainable, safe, and easy for kids to use and especially one that could be used for sub-irrigation.
Why sub-irrigation you might ask!
Because it is the most natural and efficient way of watering plants, as it provides water to the roots, exactly where they need it and exactly in the amounts they need it. It eliminates the chance to over-water or under-water, making it super easy for kids to be quickly successful and get inspired to grow more. Another beauty of sub-irrigation is that it ensures that every root gets the water and nutrients it needs. This is especially important for our young gardeners, who may forget to water their plants every day. With sub-irrigation, the plants can go longer periods without being watered, making it a much more forgiving method for kids and parents alike. Even if they forget or leave for vacation for a week, their plants will still be thriving when they return. It's a win-win situation! Amazing!
So we knew the material should feel and function like plastic without actually being plastic!
It should also be flexible like plastic for easy transplanting later on, and it should be so thin that we could easily include as many as we’d like in our relatively small Oasis Boxes, but also durable! One of the things we encourage the kids to do is planting plenty. We want them to easily create an abundance of food in their homes to feel empowered. And adding one or two seed starter cups in a box wasn’t going to help us do that. We wanted to include dozens!
After searching, trial and erroring, and failing many times, I finally decided maybe I should lower my standards a little bit and include a plastic film that the kids could assemble into pots. At least they could keep reusing these and don’t have to through them away every. Right? Well… it did not feel good at all. It was not what I was looking for but I felt like I had to finally compromise and let go a little. Maybe this is an idea whose time has not come yet?!
Really?! That made me so angry!
So I found a company that produces plastic films to get pricing and finally hesitantly order. While I was talking to the guy, all of a sudden I thought maybe I should ask if they have bio-degradable plastic film, and to my surprise he said yes!
The skeptic in me went right back to the time we tried the so-called bio-degradable nursery bags and asked him if what he was suggesting (Acetate) was REALLY bio-degradable. Is it plant-based I asked. And he said yes, 100% plant-based and compostable!
Yay! You can imagine how happy I was after I checked the specs, the flexibility, the thickness, the endurance and it all checked out!
Was it within our budget? Admittedly, it was a bit over budget. But I ordered it. Do you know why? Because even though this is a business, it’s a socially conscious business, and therefore, money is not at the top of our priorities. It is nowhere close to the top of the list of our priorities in fact! So I decided to give this a try.
And the product stood our tests, met our requirements, and matched up with all our values.
It’s 100% plant-based and compostable. This material is just as functional as plastic but without the environmental impact. Plus, it's mold-resistant and can be used for sub-irrigation, making it the perfect choice for growing healthy seedlings.
To make the cups, all our grower kids need to do is assemble the pieces of this film that’s cut to size and included in their box, by rounding the films and taping the sides up. We even include copper tape which has been shown to promote plant growth. It's an easy and fun activity for kids of all ages, and the result is a set of sturdy, biodegradable seed starter cups that are perfect for growing a variety of plants in a sub-irrigation system.
I believe that our journey to finding the perfect material for our seed starter pots is a testament to our commitment to environmental responsibility and our dedication to providing our community with the best possible products, and also supporting local manufacturers who produce these products (Grafix). The care, innovation, and ingenuity that goes into what they produce should be rewarded and more and more businesses should strive for caring for our planet Earth! Don’t you agree?
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If you want to learn more about the Oasis Box go here.