Why I Remove the Peat Pot When Planting Seedlings

From the time I first began buying plants from Pell’s Nursery in Osteen, Florida I was told to “rough up” the roots when the plant was removed from the pot.

I’m talking plastic pots here, which are the way big plants usually come. Often the plant is a bit root bound from growing in a container. In order for the plant to do well when it’s in the ground, the roots need to know they can now grow outwards.

Some plants with thick roots can actually be sliced, or cut to train them to spread. You do this at a few intervals around the root and dirt ball before it’s set into the ground.  The Pell family gave me good advice and I always had excellent luck when adding their trees and bushes to my Florida landscape.  Their planting suggestion was a good one.

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Hot pepper plant from store

These days little seedlings are often sold in biodegradable, plantable pots, which will disintegrate in the dirt. We are told to plop the whole thing (minus the bottom, says the label) into the ground. Easy-peasy, no muss, no fuss.

I don’t like it. Why would I want a pot in my garden? And what is it really made of? I also believe it inhibits plant growth.  “Peel off bottom of pot for optimum root growth” – it says this on the plastic.  So imagine if you let the roots around the sides have that optimum growth chance as well!

In short, it’s not necessary. Treat it like a regular pot and remove it.

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Everything removed and ready to plant

I always remove the peat pot when I plant something purchased at the store (in my case the Home Depot). I do this because it releases the roots so they can instantly grow into the garden dirt in a natural way. I see no reason to add a pot to the garden soil. It’s just as easy to remove the plastic wrap and the pot.

This type of pot is often used for starting seeds. When I tried this when growing things for my northern garden, the pots began to turn moldy! So they aren’t necessarily a good choice for that either.

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New little pepper plant

By the way, I’ve found that hot pepper plants are one of the easiest types of vegetable to grow.

Getting Ready to Fill The Yard with Flowering Plants

February is the time to begin thinking about planting here in Central Florida. Not only vegetables, but replenishing the yard after the winter freeze. I’m still getting used to gardening in this weird climate.

In New Hampshire

I had gardening down pat in the north.  I had a yard full of wonderful flowers.  It took me a few years to get them going, but once the Monarda (Bee Balm) and Cone Flowers (Echinacea) began to grow, I counted on them bringing birds and beneficial bugs to my yard.  And they did.

Besides those perennials, I had wild blackberries and raspberries, lots of dandelions, some Queen Anne’s Lace, and other “weeds” which flowered as well.  And then there were the hydrangeas, lilacs, daisies and peonies that kept the yard pretty throughout the season.  If you live in a climate that supports these types of plants, put them in your yard!

nasturtiums in glass pot
Nasturtiums in pot – my photo

I knew what I could plant in my yard. I dug in the rich New England dirt, added some bone meal and fertilizer and the plants were happy. In winter they went to sleep and appeared again in Spring. They grew bigger each year.

Florida Growing is Not Easier

Now my growing knowledge is turned upside down.  I don’t know what to plant.  I live in a place without winter, but we do get freezing temperatures. We also get months of extreme heat which some flowering plants can’t handle. Nothing hibernates here. I think I’ve lost my beautiful croton this winter.  Yes, it’s in a big pot – and that makes a difference, but this one I can’t move indoors.

dead croton in a barrel
This was a beautiful croton and hibiscus

See how pretty this was on this page. Makes me want to give up on planting altogether.

I have to learn what to plant and what will live in 100 degrees and also in 20 degrees. I covered my outside plants this winter, and they died anyway. These tropical plants do best when they can be brought indoors overnight if temps will be dropping.

I don’t want a yard full of pots that I have to lug back and forth… I want a pretty flower garden. I’m not so sure it’s possible, but I will give it a try.

Since the “dirt” here is simply worthless sand, any time I think about growing something, I know I will have to build my own dirt.

At the present time my plan is to fill up some of my grow bags with a mixture of good garden dirt (from my raised bed) and bone meal or blood meal and plant something that flowers.

bird bath with cardinal
Female Cardinal in Bird Bath

For the birds, I already have a birdbath which I view birds using every day. In fact they sometimes fight each other over the water, to drink and bathe in.  Next I will add a tray feeder.  Because I live next to a lot that has not been cleared, there are plenty of trees and bushes where the birds can land and hide. They especially love the Dahoon Holly tree which is not in my yard, but close.

What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic

Information on how to plant, harvest, dry and store your own garlic.

hardneck garlic bulb cloves
Planting, Harvesting and Drying Hardneck Garlic

I live in southwestern New Hampshire and each year I attempt to grow my own garlic.  After much trial and error and reading articles and books, this is what I’ve learned about planting, harvesting and drying garlic in my area of the country.

The first couple of years I had little luck, but I didn’t know what I was doing.  I wasn’t sure exactly when to plant it, and it never grew very large when I did manage to grow a few bulbs. As time went on, I read more, and realized that it needs to be weeded well. Weeds will compete for nutrients and keep the bulbs small. Also a little fertilizer when the stalks begin to grow can help. Continue reading “What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic”

A Raised Garden Bed Made of Fabric

large fabric raised garden
The Bigger Fabric Garden

This weekend I ordered more dirt and filled up my larger fabric “pot” to create a raised garden for some tomatoes and basil. The smaller one in my photo is planted with beans, and next to that I have used one for growing potatoes. What I love about a raised bed is the fact that there is plenty of good dirt for the roots of the plants. I guess that is one of the great things about a raised bed. Digging in the ground means creating layers of great dirt, over time – and it can take a while if the dirt under the garden is fill dirt, or something else that is not good for growing.
My house was built on the side of a big hill. Fill dirt was brought in to make the site level, as often happens. Fill dirt, is usually sandy stuff and that is what I find when I dig down a few inches in my back yard.   You can see that there is little growing in the spot of yard where I put this bag.  I used the loam mix that was delivered from Agway along with my own compost and added a little bonemeal, so I know that my plants are in good soil.
This garden has four tomato plants with some basil and one Italian oregano plant. I don’t know if four tomatoes are too many for this space, but I have other tomatoes planted in the ground too. In fact I made another raised bed using cinder-blocks and set that up out front where there is more sun.

That is the great thing about using these fabric pots and gardens – set them up anywhere!  Find a sunny spot and add a little vegetable garden.  They have allowed me the chance to plant more while I continue to expand my gardens in the ground.

If these black pots can be used year after year, the investment will be worth it.  I don’t know much about them at all.  Can they stay up all winter, or will I have to empty it and store it?  If they don’t last, I will stick to the smaller ones only.