While many of us have become aware of the possible dangers of drinking from plastic water bottles containing BPA, especially one that may have been left in a hot car, many of us never think anything about starting seeds or growing food in plastics or other materials containing chemicals that may be harmful.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. According to information from the Mayo Clinic seeking out BPA-free products may be a wise health decision at this time. While not all plastic containers are labeled on the bottom, a strong light and a magnifying glass usually makes it possible to determine the recycling code if one is available. When choosing colored plastics we may want to confirm that they are free of BPA-based colorants, as well.
Silicone, glass and wood are safer alternatives and not included in recycling categories
Seedling trays are a challenge. Most of the carrying trays that hold the inserts are made from No. 5 polypropylene; however, the inserts are made of flexible No. 6 polystyrene. A better alternative for starting vegetables from seed might be to cut an empty toilet tissue tube into three parts, place the parts in the tray, fill with your starter mix, add seeds and water. When it is time to transplant you may put the seedling, tissue tube and all, into the garden.
Another alternative would be to wash and dry the inside of your egg shells; make a drainage hole in the bottom with an ice pick and place them in a cardboard egg carton with the top removed. Fill with soil and sow your seeds; place them in a location between 65 to 70 degrees with bright light, keeping moist and rotating as they grow.
Be cautious when repurposing containers for planting vegetables. Paints on the market before 1970 had high concentrations of lead and some before the ’50s had as much as 50 percent lead. Containers you pick up in antique stores or at yard sales don’t let you know what products have actually been in them or on them. You could consider planting in a smaller “safe” pot, which could then be dropped down into the larger container achieving a decorative touch in the garden.
The local garden and discount centers are beginning to come alive with new and enticing items to plant. Choose carefully from the wide array available or try your own hand with a concrete creation. While we don’t normally associate them with food, roses grow well in pots and produce great hips for making jelly.