Pipe Pots

pls8xxJanuary 20, 2008

Being inspired to give zinnia breeding a try by maineman and jackier_gardener, I am working on the system.

One of my hopes was to grow the plants to first bloom stage before setting them to the garden. I proposed to use 6 inch sections of 4" lightweight PVC pipe as open bottom pots. The pipe was to be cut lengthwise to allow the soil to be released and the pot pulled up and over the plant, resulting in a minimum of root disturbance.

The original concept

I bought a 10 ft joint of the pipe yesterday for a little under $5. The lengthwise cut was made in some of the pipe and then chopped into 6" sections. I had thought that in use I would need to use duct tape to pull the cut edges together, but after cutting them I found that the pipe tries to spring together on its own. If the edges are allowed to offset the pipe will bend to overlap about a half inch as shown below.

So it doesn't look like I'll need the tape after all.

I have made a design addition of two half inch by #10 sheet metal screws. The pipe was drilled and the screws set leaving a gap between the pipe and screw head as shown.

Screws are a little above halfway up the pipe from the bottom.

Next a special planting tool was made from a shelf bracket as show below.

Shown below is a simulated use of the Pipe Pot and planting tool. The pot is set in the hole and the bottom point of the tool is placed between the two screws.

The tool handle is then pressed down which spreads the pipe open to release the soil block and the screws lock into the handle notches.

One hand is then used to pull soil around the plant as the other uses the handle to pull the pot up and over the plant.

Next I will need to make up a tool to lift the bottomless pots from the flat surface used for growing and transferring them to the garden hole.

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Very ingenious! I wonder if you could line the bottom of your "pots" with some kind of paper (coffee filter, newspaper, paper towels, brown bags?) that would stay strong enough to get the plants in the ground before it disintegrated.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 10:37PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Now that is a great idea!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 12:29PM
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About a month ago I started some lettuce as a trial of my bottomless pipe pots. Here they are ready to plant ...

I have made up a scoop to move the pots around. Below I have opened a trench to the depth of the pots. Using the scoop they are set in place and the scoop is removed.

Then the planting handle is attached to the pot as was shown in my last post.

I found that I can pull the dirt back around the pot almost to the top before I start to pull the pipe up with the handle.

Here is a shot of the scoop.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:19PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Great system - seems to have worked well for you, and you've got some nice starts, there!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 5:20PM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

Please don't tell us you are a "Girl" :)LOL. I thought I was good at making weird things work, but you are the champ without a doubt

1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:03PM
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Thanks. And rest assured, I am 100% redneck male. lol I've been designing and building things all my life. When I was young and kept bees I needed a honey extractor. Built one with the pulleys, motor,and torque converter from a washing machine along with some 3/4 all-thread and Chevy wheel bearings.

Besides zinnias, the next thing I'm going to try in the pipe pots is corn. My garden space is limited and I should be able to hold the corn in the pots for the first six weeks, plus I can control the warmth to get good germination for an early start.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:31PM
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I use a similar system on my balcony, I have some Hibiscus and other shrubs in large containers, and I like to have small things around the base, I have cut the bottoms out of some smallish pots and sit them on a tray (It was hard to find a ribbed tray so there would be suitable drainage), put some shredded paper in the bottom of the little pots then compost and potting mix and grow annuals in them. When they start to mature i pop out the last years pots from around the shrubs in the large containers and place the new one in the holes that they leave, as I am using the same holes it causes minimal root disturbance to the shrubs in the large containers and I get to change things around a lot, I have even moved the annuals around during the season because I need a change in colour or because some are doing poorly and may need a change of position. I sprinkle bark chips around the tops and you cant see the little pots at all.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 2:49PM
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I developed the Pipe Pot system for use on my zinnia project., which is in disarray. I'll post about that on the zinnia thread. But the Pipe Pots have so far been a huge success.

The AR extension service has always discouraged growing head lettuce, as our spring is too short. Over my 50 years of gardening I tried several times and failed to get a head.

The lettuce shown in the above post has been in the ground about 5 weeks and look ....

I did it. Real Iceburg head lettuce in Arkansas. The Pipe Pots got me there. After transplanting the lettuce I put corn in the pots and it is doing great too.

This is going to revolutionize the way I do gardening. Large transplants without root disturbance and lots less time of maintaining the plants to maturity is the way to go. And no more "dead" spots in my flower beds, just plop almost grown plants in there. I'm going to need a lot of Pipe Pots.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 7:58PM
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Ingenious. Inexpensive. Important innovation.
This should be on the forum Page 1 again for 2009.

pls8xx, sent you an email via GW.
Please let me know if you don't receive it, via post to the 'OT: To Robert (soilguy)' thread on the Compost forum.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 12:25PM
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I start many seedlings in pots for later transplanting ... though, I only do one little trick that really helps to avoid root disturbance. I simply let the soil become somewhat dry, it thus shrinks and pulls away from the edges of the pot, the plants come out with the rootball 100% intact, so simple and easy and without any extra work whatsoever! One thing that I recommend is not overpotting the plants in unnecessarily large containers, otherwise the roots may not be developed enough to hold onto all the extra soil.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 8:24PM
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