It took some trial and error, but the team at Peace Tree Farm is growing and shipping plugs in a new type of system from The Netherlands. During a tour at Pacific Plug & Liner in Watsonville, California, Peace Tree co-founder Lloyd Traven saw plugs in a new product called Growcoons. These webbed vessels nestled into trays piqued his interest.
“I’m always looking for other options, and when I saw the Growcoons rolling through Pacific Plug, I knew I wanted to trial them,” Traven says.
Growcoons are made of a proprietary webbed material with an open net structure and can be designed to fit any tray.
“I liked that we could use any [substrate] mix, so we asked for some samples, performed some experiments and really liked them,” he says. “We wanted to be certain the soil filled the Growcoon properly.”
In keeping with the Peace Tree Farm mantra of promoting sustainable growing methods, Traven says he was especially pleased to learn that Growcoons are completely biodegradable.
When Traven and his team decided to make the switch, he sent his 102-cell tray to the Growcoon manufacturer so they could produce a properly sized product.
The Growcoons are packed and delivered in stacks. He also purchased the Growcoon manual dispenser which de-stacks the Growcoons and places them in trays. Growcoon offers a more automated system, too, but for now the manual option fits well with Peace Tree’s production.
“One manual machine fits one size tray and we spent about $6,000,” he explains. “There’s a learning curve to get the rhythm correct on it. We’re getting pretty good at the system and are able to do from 600 up to 1,000 trays on the machine every week.”
Everything is rooting well in the new product, especially the vegetative annuals and the organic herbs, he says.
“With the open weave design, the roots just blast right through it. We picked up about a week on crop timing across the board, the roots move faster, and the plants definitely take off quicker once they’re transplanted,” Traven says.
His team had some trouble with lavender at first, but it appears they’ve worked out the kinks.
“I think the problem was the Growcoon wasn’t quite right for the tray. It was maybe 1 or 2 millimeters too small, so I asked them to make the Growcoon 2 millimeters larger and we’re good now.”
He plans on adding a 72-cell tray with the Growcoons for lavender and hemp production this year.
Growcoons are manufactured by Maan BioBased Products and sold through Klasmann-Deilmann.
Traven made another capital investment in the form of a new flat filler to accompany the new plug system. It was a long-time coming since the original flat filler (circa 1986) was a dinosaur.
“We knew if that flat filler breaks, we’re shut down, unless I could get a local welder to fix it on the fly,” Traven says. “Instead, we bought a Bouldin and Lawson mini and had some options added.”For more: www.peacetreefarm.com