Biodegradable, huh?

8 comments by Halley -Author at MIGardener

I am not sure if I have been the only one who has experienced this, but I would strongly recommend people change how they use the expandable peat pellets. I am not someone who likes to sugar coat things, and let me tell you. They are easy and that is about it. The numerous companies that sell the expandable peat pellet (one being jiffy obviously) does not realize what a detriment to your plants health they are causing. I recently used some of these peat pellets last year just to try them out, I am always looking for new ways to garden, and show people how to grow food easier with less effort. When I stumbled upon these, I had seen them before, but always figured they were too good to be true. Turns out, they really were... why? I will tell you. So I placed them in water, and just as advertised, they swelled up to 4 times their size. I noticed the nylon-ish cover holding the entire thing together, but after doing a bit of looking around the companies stated the roots would grow right through them, and they would brake down over time... So I planted the seeds, and had plants growing before I knew it. Then it came to planting, some roots had begun to push through the nylon-ish cover and I thought to myself, "WOW.. this was way to easy!"

Later that summer After a few months I began noticing that the plant was stunted, and not very sturdy. I figured it was just the plant. But then as I began looking at the other pepper plants I had planted, I noticed that they were all very top heavy, and stunted. I let them grow obliviously.

This Spring I was cleaning out my beds and I came across those pepper plants that had died last summer without producing more than a few small peppers, and did not do so well. I decided, "Oh, well. They have been dead now for a year, might as well see what the covering did", and to my shock, this is what I found.

 There, on the bottom of the roots, was a completely intact nylon-ish covering of the jiffy peat pellet. Nothing had broken down, and although the roots HAD indeed pushed through, you could see clearly the problem was caused from a totally suffocated root ball. The plants had no root structure, and actually were forced to root out from the stem to form adequate roots to sustain life.

I want everyone to know these things, because nothing beats a good ol' solo cup and soil. But if the pods work for you try cutting the lining off before planting in your pot or outside to allow the roots to fully grow to the potential needed to grow a happy plant. 


  • Dolly Hunt

    Same here. Haven’t used for 3/4 years now.

  • Mike Wyffels

    I seen them also. I thoughts the mesh was made of cotton. Did not realize it was nylon. Nylon will take forever to break down. That said could you place 1/4 inch holes through out the peat pellet after it expands

  • Heather

    I used these four years ago and we’re still finding the wrappings fully intact! They do not break down and must be removed prior to planting out. I have contacted the manufacturer and the seller regarding their use of false information on their packaging and cannot get a response. Any suggestions?

  • Katie

    I use them as they are extremely convenient. I do, however, take the netting off before I plant the plant. I found, too, that it doesnt degrade over time.

  • Renee Wendy

    I noticed THIS Problem last year. Many of my plants from Home Depot’s discard pile, simply would not thrive. Some would but others would not. When I investigated it was those darn peat starter cubes!!. The roots can’t get through them. Sometimes the roots get lucky And the plan is able to break throug and thrive, but oftentimes… Stunted.

    I also noticed the quality of my indoor potting mix has changed dramatically this year, I think they’re using coconut coir instead of peat moss? in a few months the “soil” medium turns into a kind of strange, dry, brownish, fiber mass.

    I don’t like coconut coir It doesn’t seem to break down, what in the world are they doing to our organic gardens with this crud?

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