improve efficiency, sustainability & profits

Benefits of the Paper Chain Pot System


Whether you are new to paper pot transplanting systems or have used them for some time, you may enjoy this succinct summary of why I find paper pots to be a valuable and revolutionary system for small farmers. If you have thoughts from your own experience with paper pots and transplanters not included below, I'd love to hear them!

Advantages of the Paper Chain Pots

The paper chain pot transplanting system is a unique and innovative method of transplanting with many distinct advantages. When I first started with this technology, the most immediate advantages were:

TIME. Perhaps obviously, you save a huge amount of time in transplanting. How much time? There is no standard but it takes less than a minute to run a tray of paper pots (264 plants) into the ground. There IS time spent loading trays and transitioning from one flat of plants to the next... but this system is guaranteed to increase your work rate. I love hearing anecdotes from our many happy customers like the following:

"I still remember the first time we used the paper chain pot transplanter. My husband and I set out one morning to transplant all our onions. In previous years, this took the better part of two days. With the paper pot system, we were done by lunchtime!"

PHYSICAL RELIEF. Your body enjoys relief from the bending, crawling or stooping that accompanies traditional transplanting. 

NO FOSSIL FUELS. As a hand-pulled implement, a paper pot transplanter has no engine or motor, meaning no fossil fuel usage or engine noise. I have always preferred tasks on my farm that leave room for conversations and listening to the birds!

COST SAVINGS. The time savings results in less costly transplanting; fewer people can plant more plants per hour. We regularly hear from customers who report the transplanter paid for itself in a season or less given lower labor costs.

Note the perfect, gap-less spinach rows.

Note the perfect, gap-less spinach rows.

Beyond these immediate benefits, there are several others  I have come to consider equally significant:

IMPROVED CROP STANDS. Better crop stands come from being able to better control germination rates by seeding in flats and starting plants in a greenhouse or germination chamber where temperature and moisture can be managed. I was always frustrated with inconsistent stands of crops like peas and spinach (especially summer-planted spinach). With the paper chain pot transplanting system, I now achieve essentially perfect stands of these crops. This translates into efficiencies in weed management, increased yields, and more income.

EASIER WEED MANAGEMENT. The most obvious improvement in weed management is a result of transplanting crops like peas, beets, spinach, or turnips rather than direct seeding. It is amazing to turn a spring field from ‘empty’ to ‘full’ in short order. I have often wondered what my neighbors think when they drive by my farm in the spring and see empty beds in the morning and when driving back by in the afternoon they see neat rows of crops! 

Getting a ‘jump on the weeds’ by transplanting is a huge advantage. Additionally, the naturally straight rows of paper chain pots are very easy to cultivate using a wheel hoe or other types of tools. Finally, the paper pot transplanter’s furrow-closing fingers and packing wheels leave a shallow depression and ridge on either side of the planted row (see photo below). I find that certain species of weeds germinate on the ridge and this makes them very easy to remove with a wheel hoe or hand hoe. Knocking down this ridge also affords an opportunity to bury weeds in the crop rows and hilling-up around the plants.

Depressions and ridges left by transplanter can facilitate weed management.

Depressions and ridges left by transplanter can facilitate weed management.

INCREASED INCOME POTENTIAL. There are three ways paper pot systems increase your income potential:

  1. Denser and more complete stands should result in larger harvests, which mean more income (if you can sell it all!).
  2. By transplanting crops you can shorten or eliminate the time between sequential plantings in multi-cropped field beds or in hoop houses. A growing area can be “turned over” from a finished crop to a freshly planted crop quickly and easily. This is why one of our original customers first called the paper chain pot system a true “game changer” because it allowed him to get another round of crops out of his hoop houses each year.
  3. Lastly, the paper chain pot system is unsurpassed in its ability to plant crops with tight in-row spacing and narrow between row spacing. This allows intensive market farms to increase production and sales per square foot.

A final note about improved stands and expanded income potential: Getting consistent stands means reducing some of the challenges and risks of farming. Paper chain pot users report utilizing the transplanting system to assure themselves (AND their customers) of crops that sometimes can be hit or miss. A CSA farmer we know reports being able to be assured of having early peas for his farm members regardless of how cold and wet the spring weather might be.