Another note on pots

Kenneth Hixson
Tue, 02 Nov 2004 13:12:55 PST
Dear Members
Diana wrote:
>I have been using the styrofoam boxes that grapes are packed in for some

         In western Oregon, commercial lily growers use milk cartons--the 
square containers that hold four, one gallon milk jugs.  They start seed or 
bulblets in the containers on greenhouse benches, then in spring take them 
and sit them directly on the ground.  I've seen rows two containers wide 
and a quarter
mile long, just sitting along the edge of a field of lilies.  At the end of 
the growing
season it is easy to tip the contents out, sort the bulbs out, and reuse 
the containers.
         Presume they are sterilized, but have never asked.  I've never 
asked about the
details, but presume they use peat or peat and perlite.
         When I pot something with an open bottom, a layer or two of newspaper
seems to last long enough that the potting medium consolidates and doesn't
fall out.  When planted out, the paper can simply be planted with the media.
Incidentally, it is often suggested that lilies be simply planted out in blocks
(ie, just tipped out of the pot without disturbing the potting mix).  Under my
conditions, the seedlings invariably rot--presumably because the mix doesn't
drain well enough in the garden.
         Putting "drainage" in a pot is a mistake--a "perched" water table 
is formed
where the soil (or media) texture changes.  It isn't always obvious, but it 
is enough
to support a population of pathogenic fungi, and to stop oxygen exchange.  A
potting mix which is uniform top to bottom is a better choice.  Drainage 
under the
pot is a better choice.

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