Making Peat Pellets

Learn everything you need to know to get started making your own peat pellets at home.

| May/June 1971

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    Here is a picture of all the ingredients you will need for making your own peat pellets.
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    A detailed list of the ingredents and their purpose when making your peat pellets at home.
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    A comparison of one compressed hand-rolled and one compressed tailor-made peat pellet.

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The peat pellet article in an earlier article really grabbed me. Here was technology at its best: a simple, convenient way to get around at least half the heavy directions and frightening illustrations tucked away in my innocent-looking new gardening books. Why, armed with ten or twelve dollars worth of pellets, even we city folk could easily get back to the land—by first bringing the land into the house. My head was off and running, and then . . . I stumbled into the author's note.

Plastic mesh! Peat pellets were a technical miracle all right . . . neatly packaged in an ecological disaster. Score another point for the opposition. I just couldn't see adding plastic to gardens when lawns and streets were already filled with the stuff. Write the manufacturer? Forget it. I had about decided to chuck the whole idea when another look at the gardening books convinced me that, if I had to have a garden, I had to have peat pellets. And I'd do away with the plastic by making my own.

In order to duplicate the little buggers I did buy one box of the ready-mades and found that peat pellets are actually flat peat discs. These discs look and feel as though they've died violently in a 50 ton hydraulic press but, with a little water, they instantly spring back to life as perfectly-shaped little peat pots.

Now the pellets I'm going to tell you how to make won't be quite that professional. They'll look more like a bloated poker chip than a disc and, once expanded, more like a meatball than a flower pot. But don't worry. They will do the job, and they won't leave a plastic shell behind—because they're "skinned" with genuine, old-fashioned, cotton cheesecloth. Come September, your pellets will each be a happily rotting mess!

I don't suppose you happen to own one of those aforementioned 50-ton presses. I sure don't, so I was forced to invent my very own Super-Special Tin Can Peat Pellet Mini-Press. The compression power is supplied by an automotive hydraulic jack working against a relatively immovable object like the underside of a pickup truck (most cars are too low to the ground) or the underside of basement stairs (an iron fire escape would be even better). I don't know if I have a "better" press—no one's beaten a path to my door—but the path to my garden leads all over the house to every available patch of sunlight.

Once you've set up your own mini-press, you'll be able to crank out pellets at the rate of one every two minutes. By the strict standards of a computer, I know this is darn slow; but the alternative—a monster machine and plastic in the garden—just ain't acceptable. Anyway, the list of materials and tools with this article contains everything you'll need. Scrounge the stuff together and let's begin..


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