Old planting pots congregate in our patio room like old men around a chess board in the park. I think they visit from other houses in our neighborhood, too; there are used pots I don’t recognize and a few I would have thrown out on sight.
I’ve also got a great stack of yogurt and cottage cheese containers. With a few drainage holes they’ll do the trick. Just don’t forget which ones you’ve poked holes in. After that, they make terrible water glasses.
Don’t pick up a used planting pot from the floor and just start planting in it. Old pots can host a variety of stuff you don’t want lurking around your veggies. Bacteria, disease, debris, mineral salts, and layers of crud in general — nothing you want, trust me.
Bleach Your Planting Pots
Start by whipping up a solution of one part household bleach in nine parts water. Make enough that you can submerge your biggest planting pot – you’ll need to soak each pot for at least ten minutes. Put your pots into this and walk away for awhile.
Once your used pots have soaked for ten minutes or more, submerge them in warm soapy water. Scrub or scrape off any mineral deposits and built-up gunk. Use steel wool on clay pots and a scouring pad on plastic pots.
Rinse well and submerge in clean water until you’re ready to use them.
On that note, it’s important to keep clay planting pots wet so they don’t leach the moisture out of your potting soil and away from your plants!
With just a little care, you’ll be able to reuse your planting pots through many growing seasons.