March 16, 1994
This is the time of year when gardeners are scrambling frantically in search of anything that can be used to germinate seeds. Some of us go for the trays specifically designed for seed starting. These trays can hold several types of seeds in their own little rows utilizing very little space. Some gardeners prefer to start their seeds in individual containers like peat pots or in cell packs. Still other gardeners go for the more unusual containers like fast food containers or even egg shells.
As warmer weather approaches many of us are digging out previously used plant containers for use again this gardening season. Whether the pot is clay or plastic, mineral deposits and other debris can accumulate that may harbor disease organisms and cause problems for your plants. It is important to clean and disinfect old pots each time you use them. Mineral salts can be both unsightly and damaging to plants. The salts leach through clay pots forming a white film on the outside of the pot creating an unsightly container by some gardeners standards.
Quality is important in everything we purchase, especially if we want the product to last. Containers for plants are no different. Clay pots can be easily cracked and broken so it's important to select a sound pot instead of one with an invisible flaw that may crack easier. To check for soundness, hook a finger through the drain hole and tap the pot on its shoulder (the expanded rim of the pot). A good pot will ring like a bell (flawed pots will produce a flat or dull sound). Clay pots are baked in kilns and get their strength from the duration and temperature at which they were fired.