Monday, January 02, 2012

Spring should say...Winter Cleaning

Small sampling of pot sizes
If you're anything like me, you would find ways to cut down on costs. I prefer to save money to buy more plants! hahaha :)

One way to keep money in your pocket-book is to reuse and save pots, year to year.

 Especially pottery and clay pots.   I also keep varied plastic pots sizes and shapes that I use as inserts or for up-potting purposes. Winter time is the ideal time to clean and store pots, ready for the spring.

You probably have pots that look like these:


Mineral deposits and stains adhere quite stubbornly.

It's important to truly clean these pots before reusing them. Forms of mold and bacteria can harbor in this grime and should be scrubbed and descaled for reuse.
Mineral deposits

Soak for a good while
First I soak my pots. With plastic pots, the removal of mineral deposits are easily done with hot water, dish detergent and a hand scrubber.

NEVER add bleach with vinegar together, NEVER
For clay pots, the use of White Vinegar in the water eases the use of  elbow grease.  Soak pots in a hot bath of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Give it about an hour to soak and a light scrubbing. You'll notice the deposits may bubble from the vinegar and come straight off without any scrubbing.  If you are using white vinegar, rinse the clay pots by soaking in water again for about a half hour. Clay is porous and soaks up some of the vinegar. When you use these pots later in spring and water the soil, traces of vinegar may seep out and change the pH levels of your soil.

Some folks have recommended further disinfecting of their pots because of insect infestations that may have affected their plants the season before. You must clean thoroughly, especially when you seed or propagate large quantities (it's best to do this before storing in the fall). Baking clay pots in the oven after the pots have dried from washing, truly disinfects the clay. Also people have run their plastic pots through the dishwasher.

Warning: DO NOT MIX BLEACH WITH VINEGAR. USE SEPARATE BATHS. For many pots, I use a mild bleach bath when I know I have had issues with bugs or disease. I use 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. With gloves, I wash and scrub thoroughly, rinse and let dry.

All in all, it's better to put in the effort to clean and disinfect your pots before last years grime makes this years crop go bad. Either that, or invest each year in new pots. But be sure to recycle your last years pots!

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