Wanting to spend less time and money growing healthy plants, keen gardener Lesley Windmill created the Potta System in her greenhouse.
Lesley originally used seed trays and pots but found that she was forever buying plastic trays, root trainers and pots and spending hours watering, pricking out and planting on seedlings. She decided to try making newspaper tubes (having tried toilet roll centres which only came in one size!) and avoid the pricking out stage. It made sense that if there was no root disturbance from seed to planting in the garden, that it had to be better for the plants.
“I used to roll the tubes by hand, but it was time-consuming because each one had to be stapled or sellotaped to stop it unrolling. But things seemed to thrive in the tubes - probably because the newspaper held moisture better than plastic cell trays – so I soldiered on until one day it struck me that if I designed a series of templates, it would make the process easy and no stapling would be necessary”.
Lesley went on to design the templates that are the basis of the Potta System. After creating a prototype, and finding that one of the hardest parts of the project was getting friends who borrowed it to give it back, she decided to take out a patent.
The Potta System was launched at the Shepton Mallet Amateur Gardening Show in September 1999 (see picture). It was soon spotted by a number of gardening magazines who wrote articles praising the product as one of the best of the year.
One of Lesley's proudest achievements is creating a product that allows gardeners, both experienced and beginner, to grow healthy plants in an ecologically friendly way with minimal waste and cost.
“Because the tubes are deeper than cell trays they don’t dry out easily” she says, “and it also means that when the roots are established you water from the bottom. This helps prevent damping off, which is particularly useful for fussy plants like basil."