US 3375607 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
April 2, 1968 o. MELVOLD BRIQUETTE FOR GROWING OF PLANTS 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Jan. 9,
' IA IVENTOR' ODD MELVOLD April 2, 1968 o. MELVOLD 3,375,607
BRIQUETTE FOR GROWING OF PLANTS 4 Filed Jan. 9, 1967 I 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. 7
mvE/vnm O D D M E LVO L D airw- Y? fiw April 2, 1968 o. MELVOLD BRIQUETTE FOR GROWING OF PLANTS 4 Sheets-Sheet .3
Filed Jan. 9, 1967 J [NVEN It 1 000 MELVOLD O. MELVOLD April 2, 1968 BRIQUBTTE FOR GROWING OF PLANTS 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed Jan. 9, 1957 FIG. I3
XX XX FIG. I7
INVENL/(IIP ODD MELVOLD mfl 3,375,607 BRIQUETTE FOR GROWING OF PLANTS Odd Melvold, Oslo, Norway, assignor to Me-Kox Industri,
Melvold & Koxvold, Oslo, Norway, a partnership ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A briquette of a compressed plant growth medium (e.g. peat moss) which expands when contacted by water to a porous loose material of increased volume is enclosed within a sleeve of water-resistant material which is collapsed against the briquette to provide a reduced external size for shipmentand storage, but which is expansible to an internal volume at least as great as the increased volume of the growth medium for use in starting and growing plants. The sleeve can consist of a plastic netting which is compressed against the briquette and forms a shaped unit. Typically, the briquette and sleeve will expand as much as five to six times from storage to use condition.
This application is a continuation-in-part of copending application Ser. No. 444,292, filed Mar. 31, 1965.
Background of the invention Quite a number of plants, vegetables, flowers etc. are planted or sown in hot houses, frames and the like, to be set out in the open at a later stage. For this purpose small plant pots of clay have been used to a large extent, but such pots are expensive and large storage spaces are required when the pots are out of use. The work required when the plants are set out in the open is also extensive due to the fact that the earth with the plant has to be removed from the pot and transferred to the earth.
An important improvement was obtained when the now well known pots made by pressed peat moss appeared, as these pots could be set out or planted in the earth together with the plant, the roots penetrating the peat pot which also could supply additional nutrition for the plant. Such known pots of pressed peat are, however, associated with certain disadvantages during manufacture and distribution as the pots easily are broken apart, particularly during watering of the pots due to the fact that they become weakened when moist and easily are torn. Further these pots have to be filled with a suitable quantity of earth by the consumer, a work which also is time consuming.
It is also previously known to press peat moss together under a fairly low pressure to obtain blocks to be used as plant medium, but such blocks have not been used extensively as they do not withstand handling and transport particularly in a moist state.
It is further known to compress peat moss to briquettes and ship these as growth medium, and the receiver can then water the pressed briquettes which will swell and become porous. (See, for example, US. Patent No. 1,988,307.) However, the obtained wet peat moss will be a loose material which will have to be filled in a pot or similar container to be used as growth medium. While such briquettes thus reduce the volume of the growth medium for shipment, the briquettes cannot be used alone without a pot or other container.
States Patent 0 Summary of the invention The present invention can utilize a briquette of the known type, but which is modified so that it will retain its shape after watering and swelling and thereby avoid the use of a container such as a flower pot. In one preferred embodiment, a comparatively hard pressed briquette is manufactured, containing the necessary nutritional matter and growth promotion agents for plants, the briquette when being watered, swelling to a common pot shape or to a block of a desired shape, and constituting a complete pot filled with earth and nutritional matter in which the planting immediately may be made, the pot keeping its form for later setting out in the open.
According to the invention this is achieved by providing a known growth medium composed of substances suitable as growth medium which may contain nutritional matter for the plant and which will expand or swell when water is added, with a shape defining body which may be a mesh, lattice or grid which extends around the medium or may be in the form of a sleeve surrounding the medium.
The shape defining body may be made from synthetic plastic materials (such as nylon) or similar materials in the form of nets, so that the roots easily will penetrate the measures of the net, or the net may be made from materials (for example rayon) or other compositions which in addition may serve as nutrition for the plants, but the material must be resistant to water to retain the expanded growth medium.
The growth medium may comprise only peat moss which is compressed to the desired extent as this material when adding water, will absorb same and swell to the desired porosity for the growth medium. The peat moss may also be admixed with other materials; such as nutritional matter for the plants, and also with materials for increasing the porosity, for example porous perlite, i.e. perlite heated to make it light and porous. The medium may also consist of a mixture of rich soil and peat moss together with nutritional matter.
Brief description of the drawings Illustrative embodiments of the invention are shown in the accompanying drawing, wherein:
FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic side elevational view illustrating the beginning of the compressing step in forming a preferred assembly of the plant growth means and pot means;
FIGURE 2 is aside elevational view of the same assembly after the completion of the compressing step;
FIGURE 3 is a perspective view of the compressed, unitary mesh sleeve and peat moss briquette in its fully compressed condition for storage and shipment;
FIGURE 4 is a perspective side elevational view showing the same assembly in fully expanded condition with a plant growing therein;
FIGURE 5 is a top plan view of a further embodiment of the present invention wherein the compressed briquettes are received within connected envelopes of pockets;
FIGURE 6 is a perspective view illustrating how the compressed briquettes in the embodiment of FIG. 5 can be contacted with water;
FIGURE 7 is a top plan view of the same embodiment with the growth medium expandedand ready for use;
FIGURE 8 is a top plan view of two of the units of the embodiment of FIG. 7 illustrating how the units may be separated for planting in the ground;
FIGURE 9 is a perspective view of one of the units of the same embodiment showing a plant growing therein;
FIGURE 10 is a perspective view of a box or flat con- 3 taining the plurality of the assemblies of the same embodiment;
FIGURE 11 is a perspective view of still another embodiment wherein a plurality of the expansible briquettes are employed with each expansible pot means, the briquettes being shown in their compacted condition while the sleeve pot is shown partially expanded;
FIGURE 12 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 11 after the expansion of the briquettes to fill the sleeve pot with the growth medium;
FIGURE 13 is a side elevational view of another embodiment of the invention, the assembly being shown in collapsed condition;
FIGURE 14 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 13;
FIGURE 15 is a side elevational view of the same embodiment as FIGS. 13 and 14, except that the growth medium and mesh sleeve are shown in expanded condition;
FIGURE 16 illustrates briquette assemblies, such as those of FIG. 13 mounted on a continuous strip, the briquettes being shown in collapsed condition;
FIGURE 17 is a side elevational view of the same embodiment as FIG. 16, except that the briquette assemblies are shown in expanded condition;
FIGURE 18 is a perspective view of a tray unit upon which a plurality of the briquette assemblies, such as those of FIGS. 1 to 4, are mounted to facilitate handling; and
FIGURE 19 is a perspective view of a pan unit adapted for holding a plurality of the briquette assemblies, such as the assemblies of FIGS. 1 to 4.
Detailed description In accordance with the present invention, there is provided an assembly of plant growth means and pot means. The plant growth means is preferably in the form of at least one hard, compacted briquette having side walls adapted to extend vertically. The briquette is preferably composed essentially of a compressed plant growth medium, such as peat moss, which expand-s when contacted by water to provide a porous loose material of increased volume suitable for starting and growing plants. The improvement of the present invention particularly comprises in combination with the expansible briquette of the character described, a collapsible-expansible pot means including sleeve means of flexible water-resistant material enclosing the briquette around at least its side walls. The sleeve means is collapsed against the briquette to provide an assembly of reduced external size. However, the sleeve means is expansible to provide an internal volume at least as great as the increased volume of the growth medium on being contacted with water. The pot means is constructed so as to permit access to the upper portion of expanded growth medium for planting while effectively retaining the medium therein for plant growth.
Turning now to the specific embodiments of FIGS. 1 to 4, the sleeve means 10 is formed of plastic sheet material, such as a thermoplastic material, including nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene, copolymers of polyethylene and polypropylene, etc. In the illustration shown, the plastic sheet material 10 is perforated, or more specifically, it consists of a netting providing mesh-type perforations. Such netting can be formed from filaments by weaving or knitting, or the mesh structure can be formed from thermoplastic sheet material by a slitting and stretching procedure somewhat analogous to the procedure for forming expanded metal.
In producing the assembly of FIGS. 1 to 4, a piece of the plastic netting 10 can be formed into a tube or sleeve having a lapped heat-sealed seam 11 extending vertically along one side. The bottom of the sleeve or tube 10 can then be closed by heat-sealing procedure, and the pocket thus formed filled with the growth medium in a loose, uncompressed condition. The top of the sleeve can then be closed, and sealed by heat-sealing. The sleeve 10 contain- 4 ing the growth medium 12 may then be compressed between suitable dies, suchv as the diagrammatically illustrated dies 13 and 14. By applying compressive force,
as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 1, the dies can be brought together to compress the growth medium while at the same time collapsing and compressing the net sleeve therearound. In this way, the sleeve and briquette form a shaped unit, as shown more clearly in FIG. 3.
Where the sleeve 10 prior to compression forms a complete enclosure for the top of the assembly, as in FIG. 1, the upper die member 13 may be provided with a downwardly extending central projection 13, which is designed to form a recess in the top of the compressed assembly, as indicated at 15 in FIGS..2 and 3. As will be noted, the central upper portion of the mesh sleeve 10 has been cut away in alignment with the recess 15, thereby facilitating access to the upper portion of the growth medium on expansion, as indicated in FIG. 4.
As the net sleeve 10 is collapsed and compressed about the growth medium 12, which forms the hard, compressed briquette of FIGS. 2 and 3, the side wall portions of the sleeve will slightly pucker, while being forced against the sides of the lbriquette, as indicated at 1011 in FIG. 3. As there is also shown, the upper surface, as well as the lower surface, which is not shown, will have puckers or pleated portions 10b, which may be formed either before or during the compression, and can include heat-sealed portions for retaining the growth medium at the top and bottom of the sleeve.
Where the growth medium is formed primarily of peat to its original volume, and will therefore be capable of expanding a comparable amount, such as anexpan sion of the order of at least of about five to six times its compressed volume. This is indicated by comparing FIG. 3 with FIG. 4. Not only does the mesh sleeve 10 expand with the growth medium 12, but its perforated structure permits the roots of the plant to grow out through the sides and bottom thereof. In FIG. 4, there is shown a plant P growing in the medium 12, with roots R extending through the cape-retaining sleeve 10.
While the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 4 is desirable for starting and growing flowers and vegetables, other embodiments may have advantages for particular applications. For example, the embodiment of FIGS. 5 to 10 is particularly adapted for starting and growing trees. Since tree seedlings must be kept under greenhouse conditions for relatively long periods of time before being planted outdoors in the soil, it is desirable to provide units for this purpose which can be used to raise the seedlings for periods as long as a year to two years. Since the units must eventually be separated for planting, it is desirable to substantially preclude cross root growth between the units, thereby facilitating the separation and planting of the units.
As shown in FIG. 5, the units consist of plastic sleeves designated generally by the number 16 having compressed elongated briquettes 17 therein. In the illustration shown,
the sleeves or tube 16 are connected by vertically extending web portions 18. For example, the connected series of sleeve 16 can be formed from two sheets 16a and 16b of a suitable thermoplastic, such as polyethylene, which is heat-sealed portions at the web portions 18, preferably, as shown, along two horizontally spaced, vertically-e tending lines 18a and 18b.
As shown in FIG. 5, the sleeves 16 are partially expanded. It will be understood,however, that for purpose of shipment and storage, the sleeve 16 .will he collapsed about the briquette 17. Then when it is desired to use the planting units, they may be immersed in water while remaining connected, as illustrated somewhat diagrammatically in FIG. 6. As there shown, a pan P is partially filled with water W, and the connected sleeves 16 are placed in or passed slowly through the water with the briquette 17 therein. The water can enter the sleeves 16 through their open tops 19, and also through the drainage opening 20 provided in the bottom thereof.
The fully expanded sleeve 16 with expanded growth medium 17 therein is shown in FIG. 7. The connected sleeves 16 can be stored in a fiat or container, such as the container C shown in FIG. 10. As there indicated diagrammatically, tree seedlings T can be grown in the units. When it is desired to plant the units, they can be cut apart at the webs 18, preferably between the heatseal lines 18a and 1811, as illustrated in FIG. 8. The resulting unit with the tree ready for planting will appear as shown in FIG. 9.
Still another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 11 and 12. This is particularly adapted for use with large plants such as rose bushes. A sleeve type container 21 having an open top 22 and a closed bottom 23 can be formed from suitable thermoplastic sheet material, such as polyethylene. The container 21 can be formed from one or more pieces of the plastic material, the separate pieces being united by suitable seams or heat seals as indicated at 24 in FIG. 11. As there shown, the sleeve container 21 is partially expanded for purpose of illustration, although it will be understood that it will be stored and shipped in collapsed condition, as with the previous embodiments.
The principal difference between the embodiment of FIGS. 11 and 12 and the embodiments already described is that a plurality of the compressed briquettes are provided within each container. As illustrated, two elongated vertically-extending briquettes 25 are received within the sleeve container 21. With this form of the invention, the roots of a large plant, such as a rose bush, can be inserted within the sleeve container 21 between the briquettes 25. On adding water to the container, the briquettes will expand as indicated in FIG. 12, thereby substantially filling the container 21 and enclosing the roots of the plant, with the rose bush or other large plant being centered within the container. If only a single briquette were used, rather than a plurality of briquettes, it would be difiicult to center the plant within the container. If the plant is inserted before expansion of the briquette, the briquette will be on one side or the other of the roots, and the roots -will tend to be displaced toward the side of the container as the briquette expands. On the other hand, it is difficult to plant the roots of a large heavy plant after the expansion of the growth medium.
Referring now to the embodiment of FIGS. 13-15, the reference number 101 refers to a sheet of cardboard, paper, synthetic foil or any other similar material, while 102 is the compressed growth medium and 103 refers to a sleeve of a net of synthetic fibers, for example nylon.
As shown in FIG. 15, after water has been added, the growth medium 102 will swell and expand to a block of a height five to six times the thickness of the briquette shown in FIG. 13, and the assembly of FIG. 15 is ready for planting of a plant by making a hole in the usual manner into which the plant or seed or the like is placed. FIG. 15 shows how the net 103 will follow and define the shape of the expanded briquette so that the assembly is held together and can be handled.
FIGS. 16 and 17 disclose similar briquette assemblies 104, 105, 106 on a common base 107. FIG. 17 shows the same briquettes after watering.
The briquettes of FIGS. 1317 can be manufactured in numerous ways, but a very simple matter will be to place a nylon net in the form of a sleeve open at both ends, on a base plate, for example by means of adhesive, Whereatfer the sleeve is filled with the desired growth medium up to the height of the expanded block, whereafter the sleeve and growth medium is placed in a press and compressed with a suitable pressure to the briquette which then will be complete and ready for distribution and use by the consumers.
In FIGS. 18 and 19, there is shown an extension and modification of the embodiments of FIGS. 16 and 17. Compressed assemblies, such as those of FIG. 3 can be supported on a tray 200, as shown in FIG. 18, or in a pan 201, as shown in FIG. 19. The tray 200 can be provided with hand grips 202 to facilitate handling, and may have rows of openings 203. The openings 203 are of smaller diameter than the diameter of the compressed briquette assemblies A. One of the briquette assemblies can therefore be centered over each of the openings 203, as illustrated, and the bottom of the assemblies adhesively attached, as by heat-sealing or by use of a suitable ad-. hesive, to the upper surface of the tray 200. When the tray has been filled with the briquette assemblies A, it can then be immersed in water, causing the assemblies to expand to planting condition, as illustrated by the row of the assemblies shown in phantom. During the raising of the plants, they can be handled as a unit while remaining on the tray 200. When it is desired to plant the individual plants, the assemblies A can be detached from the tray 200. If portions of the bottoms of the assemblies are torn loose in this operation, this does not present any difficulty where the assemblies are being planted promptly, as would be expected.
In FIG. 19, the bottom of the tray 200 is provided with rows of openings 204. Each of the openings 204 is located between a pair of upwardly projecting retainer tabs 205, the tabs being spaced apart so as to snugly receive and frictionally engage the compressed assemblies A. The assemblies may therefore be readily inserted to fill the bottom of the tray. The tray can then be immersed in water to cause the assemblies to expand to the condition indicated in phantom in FIG. 19. When it is desired to plant the individual plants, the assemblies with the plants therein can be readily removed by simply pulling them out from between the tabs 205.
This invention is further illustrated by the following examples.
EXAMPLE I A sleeve of knitted nylon fibre is attached for example by gluing to a small cardboard piece, and the sleeve is filled with a mixture consisting of of a compound of peat moss and nutritional matter and 20% expanded perlite. The peat moss is of a moisture content of circa 15%. The now filled sleeve is placed in a press and compressed with a pressure of circa 60 kg./cm. The result is a briquette which is hard and solid, and will resist any stress and strains it may be subjected to during wrapping, distribution and unwrapping.
Such briquettes are easy to handle when they are to be placed in frames, hot houses and the like, preferably on a plastic sheet, whereafter they simultaneously are sprayed with water until they have swollen to the desired porosity, whereafter the planting in these blocks may follow immediately. After the watering, the water will partly evaporate and partly be consumed by the plants so that an ordinary moisture content is obtained, and the blocks will then be lighter and sufficiently compact to be handled and set out in the open. The blocks must, however, be watered in the usual way to enable the plants to grow under the correct conditions.
EXAMPLE 1r Briquette assemblies are prepared as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. Ground Sphagnum peat moss dried to a moisture content of 18-20% by weight is combined with 6 kg. of dolomitic lime and 2 kg. of mixed fertilizers (NPK 11.5- 5-145) per 300 kg. of peat. Small quantities of metal salts providing trace minerals can also be added, the peat moss and other ingredients being thoroughly mixed to assure a uniform distribution. No binder for the peat moss is needed. The mesh sleeves are formed from plastic net sheet stock which is a copolymer of polyethylene and polypropylene. The sleeves are filled with the peat mossfertilizer mix, the filled sleeves before compression having a diameter of about cm. and a height of about 8 cm. Sufficient compressive force is applied to the assembly to reduce its height and volume to about of the original, thereby obtaining a hard, integrated assembly of the plastic net and the peat moss briquette. While the amount of force can vary, usually a compressive force of about 20,000 kg. per briquette is sufficient.
The resulting briquette assemblies will remain compressed for handling, shipping, and storage. On being immersed in water, they will expand rapidly, usually about five to ten minutes being sufiicient for completion of expansion to five to six times the compressed height and volume. The pot assemblies are then ready for use in starting and growing plants.
It will be apparent that pot assemblies produced as described have many advantages. No soil preparation or soil disinfection is required, and the plants are assured a high quality growing medium, including the exact requirements of fertilizers and trace minerals. Prior to use, the briquette assemblies occupy minimum storage space, being easy to store and handle. They are also cleaner and more convenient to use than pots which must be filled with the growth medium.
In the foregoing examples, reference has been made to the moisture content of the peat at the time of compression. Although this may vary considerably while still obtaining a usable product, it has been found advantageous to control the moisture content to permit compression without pressing out free water while retaining suflicient water so that the swelling of the peat briquettes are not unduly prolonged.
Typically, the moisture content can range from to 22%, and particularly advantageous results are obtained in the range of 18 to 20% moisture.
While this invention has been described in relation to preferred embodiments and many details have been set forth for the purpose of illustration, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention is susceptible to other embodiments and that certain of the details described herein can be varied without departing from the principles of the invention. For example, the growth medium may also consist of other materials, the main body being of a composition which will not expand or swell significantly when water is added, for example ordinary rich soil to which compounds giving off gas when in contact with water may be added. As an example on such compounds a mixture of dry sodium bicarbonate and dry citric acid must be referred to, as such a compound when water is added, will give off carbon dioxide and therefore expand the body which will be porous.
Also, a lattice which extends throughout the medium and which is expansible while shape-defining or shape-retaining, can be used. Such a lattice may for instance consist of a substance forming large or small open pores filled with growth medium. Peat moss may for instance be mixed with a synthetic resin which can be foamed by blowing agents or the resin and peat moss may be beaten to a foam wherein the pores are filled with peat moss I and the walls are hardened in a known manner. When the walls are resilient this mass can be compressed to hard briquettes which later, after watering, can be used as growth medium without a pot or other container.
The peat moss medium may also be mixed with a binder which is not water soluble after setting, using such a small amount of the binder that the peat moss particles are glued together without being penetrated completely by the binder, so that the peat moss still will be adapted to absorb water and swell, while the separate particles are bound together by glue or binder. In this way, a spongelike mass may be formed, consisting of a natural or artificial substance, for instance cellulose which constitutes the sponge body itself, the pores thereof being filled with peat moss and/or other growth medium. This mass which may be in the shape of bars or loose mass or in the shape of large sheets, may thereafter be compressed to the desired briquettes as separate pots or as larger sheets which may be provided with score lines for later division when the formed potswith plants are to be eparated.
The lattice bonding the growthmediurn may also be formed of a thread-like structure, such as a lattice which will be formed by heating, for instance, latex which sets in a thread-like form distributed throughout the mass and adapted to keep the wet expanded body together.
1. The assembly of plant growth medium and pot medium, wherein said plant growth means is in the form of a compacted briquette having side walls adapted to extend vertically, said briquette being composed essentially of a compressed plant growth medium including peat moss which expands when contacted by water toa porous loose material of increased volume, and wherein the improvement particularly comprises the combination of a collapsible-,expansible pot means and a hard compressed briquette expansible when soaked with water to at least several times its compressed volume, said pot means including sleeve means of flexible sheet material enclosing said hard briquette around at least said side walls, said sleeve means beingcollapsed against said briquette to provide a reduced external size for said assembly, said sleeve means being expansible with said plant growth medium to an internal volume at least at great as the said increased volumeof said growth medium, said pot means permitting access to the upper portion of said expanded growth medium for planting while effectively retaining the wet expanded medium therein for plant growth.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said sleeve means is formed of a plastic sheet material.
3. The combination of claim 2. wherein said sheet material is perforated.
4. The combination of claim 3 wherein said sheet material consists of netting providing mesh-type perforations, said netting in its collapsed condition being compressed against said briquette thereby forming a shaped unit therewith and wherein said expansible plant growth medium is composed substantially entirely of sphagnum peat moss.
5. The assembly of plant growth medium and pot medium, wherein said plant growth means is in the. form of a compacted briquette having side walls adapted to extend vertically, said briquette being composed essentially of a compressed peat moss which expands when contacted by water to a porous loose material of increased volume, and wherein the improvement particularly comprises the combination of a collapsible-expansible pot means and a hard compressed briquette expansiblewhen soaked with water to at leastseveral times its compressed volume, said pot means including sleeve means of plastic netting providing mesh-type perforations enclosing at least said side walls, said sleeve means being collapsed against said briquetteto provide a reduced external size for said assembly, said sleeve means being expansible with said plant growth medium to an internal volume at least at great as the said increased volume of said growth medium, said growth medium being composed essentially of peat moss, said pot means providing an opening in the top thereof permitting access to the upper portion of said expanded growth medium for planting while effectively retaining the wet expanded medium around the sides and bottom of said assembly during plant growth.
6. The combination of claim 5 wherein said netting in its collapsed condition is compressed against said briquette and forms a shaped unit therewith, said briquette having the characteristic of expanding at least about five to six times its compressed volume.
7. A plurality of the assemblies of claim 5 in combination with plate means, said plate means extending horizontally and said assemblies being supported in horizontally spaced-apart relation with their bottoms on the top of said plate means, said assemblies being vertically expansible to said increased volume Without separation of their bottoms from said plate means.
8. The combination of claim 1 wherein said briquette is vertically elongated and expansible horizontally, and said pot means is a vertically-extending, horizontally-expansible tube of plastic sheet material.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Wedge 4737 Alvord 47--34 Quillen et al 47--37 Fay 471 Chapman 4737 X Werner.
ROBERT E. BAGWILL, Primary Examiner.