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The story of a common and a not-so-common flower pot.

Do you have loads of old plastic flower pots  that seem to have ‘self seeded’ in all sorts pf nooks and crannies in the garden – in your shed, piled in the greenhouse,  or just hidden next to the compost?  You know they will all come in handy – one day!  How did they get there?

Well, somebody found some oil, then shipped it around the word, and then refined it (so pretty, that gas, when it’s ‘burned off’), then added some very complicated chemicals and lots of energy, and separated some ‘by’ products for plastics production.  Some of these by-products went off to be moulded into your pots. Well, they went through lots of other processes first – but I do not want to get TOO boring!

All that energy. All that CO2 up in the air.  Just for that shprt trip from the nursery, and then a long, empty laze around your garden.  Well, we think that’s a bit of a waste. Worse, a totally avoidable waste.

How about a biodegradable pot?  A pot that was ‘grown’. A pot that will go back where it came from – after it’s let you plant without root shock, although perhaps with a bit of air pruning, strengthening the core of your plant’s roots.


Well, we know some women who have got together down in southern Sri Lanka to produce such pots from the waste outer husk of a coconut: it’s called coir. They – with the help of Oxfam – no money, just advice – set up a ‘factory’ in one of the poorest areas of the country – an area devastated not so long ago by the tsunami.

The Process

First the husks are shredded into fibres.  Then they are washed and dried in the sun.  The washed and dried fibres are then shaped into different sizes.  Next the ladies coat the shapes in natural latex.  Then back into the sun again for the latex to dry.

This is the only mechanical bit – compressing the pots.

Lastly the pots receive a final haircut.

The Result.

So from coconut husks to flower pots and a journey that began in the warm earth of the Sri Lankan countryside ends in enhancing the soil of your garden. Along the way, though, the pot’s journey has given a fair income to ladies who have little chance of other employment.  People need sustainability too.

(Pots travel on scheduled shipping, and even after hand- making cost as little as 8 pence)

Joe of the Natural Gardener

You can see the delightful photographs the pot ladies of Sri Lanka took themselves of their ‘factory’ on the Natural Gardener website:

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