Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Potty about Pots

I have lots of pots scattered around the garden. They are very attractive, but require a fair bit of management. They have to be emptied and put away for the winter to make sure they are not broken by the frost. They have to be refilled in spring, and filling up the big ones can require a lot of “filling” which has to be bought or has to come from the garden.

The reason I have quite a few pots is that for many years I have “indulged” in what has become a tradition of buying one every year (some years I am given one as a gift). As this tradition has been going on for near 20 years, and since some years I get a set of two matching pots, they necessarily accumulate. In fact, last Friday I bought my 2013 pot, a beautiful oval Chinese bonsai container, finished in a red/black glaze.
Square Pots
Terracotta pots

Each year, before I store them under the porch for the winter, I empty each pot on the beds where I grow vegetables. The “filling” spends the winter there, and some of it can be used to refill the pots for the next season.

In spring, I half fill each large pot with compost that is not quite ripe (ripe compost is too precious to use as “stuffing” to bulk up the filling at the bottoms of pots). The plant in the pot has access to this compost, as it finishes “ripening” over the summer. To fill the rest of the pot, I use mostly a peat-based growing medium with, perhaps, a bit of sand and a bit of garden soil. Once the pot is planted, if there is room, I put a mulch of wet leaves on top. These are not simply leaves that are wet, but leaves that have spent the winter in water (in a ditch). They stick together and provide a mulch that stays in place. This mulch can make quite a bit of difference in keeping the moisture in the pot.
Leaves as a Mulch
"Unripe" Compost

All last week, I have been taking pots out from under the porch and filling them ready to be planted. Actually, the ones that hold perennials, such as hostas, I plant at the same time as I fill them.  The only problem at this stage is that the first week pots are filled, raccoons sometimes dig through them. I think they are attracted by the compost. They have had access to that very same compost all winter, but somehow when it is dug up and put in a pot, it becomes more attractive to a raccoon, or so it seems. After the first week, they fortunately lose interest and don’t (usually) do any more digging. Like humans, what they like is novelty.

Cast iron scalding potBrown ceramic potCopper-Red glaze

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