Happy Holidays

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In the last blog post I left you (or rather, me) holding a decanted plant, roots exposed to the elements. Alas, I hope no one has been waiting for the past two weeks for the next set of instructions on how to dig a hole and put it in. As you may expect from the last two posts, it is not as simple as one would think. Nevertheless, I am going to leave you hanging a little longer.

I may be leaving you hanging, but the plant is all comfy in its new pot, with new soil,
top dressed with smooth, black rocks. 

Though Chanukah, along with Thanksgiving, is a distant memory I cannot help but be in a holiday mood. So today I potted up some herbs to give to my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas (they never read this blog so I’m not worried about blowing the surprise). The following five-minute video shows the process. (I’m learning more techniques on film editing with IMovie. I’ve always wanted to say, “Beam-me-up, Scotty” and now I can in the start of the clip.)

A few things in the video need further discussion. Most importantly is my use of home-brewed potting soil. I try not to purchase much of anything for garden projects. Potting soil, in particular, is something I prefer not to import. Not knowing where the materials come from, how they are produced, and whether that are sterile or carry disease are all concerns, but really it is mostly because I am cheap. My garden soil is quite nice, loamy and well-drained, but even if it was less “good” I would still try to use it as a base for potting soil. The addition of materials to improve aeration and drainage (perlite, pumice, coarse sand), and organic matter to hold water and provide nutrients, can be adjusted to produce a good potting medium. Perlite, pumice and sand can be purchased at hardware stores and garden centers. I usually use fairly coarse materials, including the perlite.

I use approximately 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 inorganic, 1/3 organic. If I am planting cacti, other succulents, or plants that require excellent drainage, I reduce the organics to just a bit and increase the inorganic supplements. For woodland-type plants, I increase organics and slightly reduce inorganics. If I had sandy garden soil (well-drained and lean) I would use more mulch and partially decomposed leaf litter. Heavy clay soil is more difficult to work with, but again I would add generous amounts of sand, pumice, and/or perlite (perlite provides better aeration), along with compost, incorporating less garden soil into the mix.

In general, my container plants do very well for many years. Usually they decline after about three to five years, begging to be repotted. The soil just gets tired as the plants draw nutrients from it. Rather than adding fertilizer, I repot the plants using new, home-brewed potting soil. The old soil is dumped into the compost area and mixed with the compost.

Just as there were many different ideas on how to prepare the roots of a nursery plant for planting, I am sure there will be many comments on container planting, so bring ’em on. And remember, when the holiday craziness gets to you, it is time to get dirty. For those whose gardens are covered with snow, splurge and buy a bag of potting soil, pots and tasty herbs. With your new herbs adding aroma and flavor to your kitchen, pull out your seed catalogs and dream of warmer days.

5 thoughts on “Happy Holidays

  1. Thanks for the herbs, Mom!

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  3. Wow! Since when do you read this?

  4. Happy holidays to you too!

  5. Anonymous

    Happy Holidays to you, too! Maybe we can get together next year 🙂 Pamela

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