Is Recycled Paper the Future of Soil? This Company Thinks So…

Have you ever wondered why gardeners are conditioned to water plants every day, sometimes twice a day? Why do so many people call themselves terrible gardeners (“I kill plants just by looking at them!”), while considering those with green thumbs to have some magical powers? Despite a lack of confidence and busy schedules, Americans are avid gardeners. The average American household spends over $400 on lawn and garden products each year, according to the 2016 National Garden Survey. How much of that went to expensive plants that withered away when the family left for vacation? The fact is, our habits and expectations for our gardens have formed from decades of working with the same materials to grow our plants, primarily in peat-based mixes.

Since the invention of the Cornell mix in the 1960’s, which popularized peat and brought it into the market as the standard soilless mix, there has been little innovation while gardeners continue to struggle. Imagine if all the products you use today still relied on 1960’s technology! Peat is less than ideal for a few reasons, it’s acidic, so it requires lime, it naturally repels water, so it requires wetting agents, and is low in aeration and requires perlite. There are also those discussions around the environmental impact of peat mining, and readers can research and come to their own conclusions on the topic. The use of coco coir is seen as one option to peat-based mixes, however it faces criticism over its environmental impact (shipping and extensive processing) and some coco coir products struggle to perform as well as traditional mixes. The goal of PittMoss is to finally provide gardeners a choice by introducing their ground-breaking technology not just to commercial growers, but home gardeners as well.

So What Is PittMoss?

PittMoss manufactures growing media from recycled paper products by breaking down and re-formulating fiber particles to create an ideal environment for plant growth. PittMoss sources all ingredients locally and manufactures the product in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The result is a fluffy, lightweight growing medium with excellent air exchange that encourages beneficial biological growth. PittMoss provides superior aeration, which promotes larger and more even root distribution; while the PittMoss biologicals act as “pro-biotics®” for plants, allowing them to digest and uptake more nutrients. PittMoss products also require 2/3 less water. Imagine how a paper towel absorbs water evenly throughout the sheet is an excellent example of how well PittMoss holds and distributes moisture. With PittMoss, gardeners will have more time to enjoy their garden rather than spending time and resources watering every day.

However, it’s not just the water savings that makes PittMoss unique. The manufacturing process is tightly controlled and indoors. This means that the product is consistent every time with no opportunity for contamination from spores, pesticides and other potentially harmful components. The consistency in the particle sizes, and the air space between them, means roots have plenty of room to access the resources they need to grow faster, more resilient plants.

PittMoss initially sold only to commercial growers, where the positive results are abundant. Just one example is All About Groundcover in Slippery Rock, PA. After introducing PittMoss into their mix, the company was able to bring to market plants in 4-6 weeks, opposed to 6-8 weeks and noticed a 30% reduction in crop losses. All About Groundcover notices a remarkable difference when re-wetting their plants, with PittMoss immediately absorbing water, requiring only one pass through from employees.

PittMoss introduced retail products in 2017 to meet demand from home gardeners. Today, the company has three retail products, Prime, Performance and Plentiful. Prime is a soil amendment and Performance and Plentiful are both complete potting soils with the latter being 100% organic and listed on the Organic Material Review Institute’s (OMRI) directory of certified organic products. Use any of the products directly out of the bags or blend with your current mix and expect excellent results.

So, is the future of soil recycled paper? Only time can tell. For now, the company is focused on getting PittMoss in the hands of consumers. Every bag of PittMoss sold means less paper ends up in a landfill, water is saved, and more gardeners proudly refer to themselves as having a “green thumb.”

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