One of the things that makes me call myself a hippie, when it comes to gardening, is my thought that nothing should be wasted. I did a lot of container gardening, before I had a garden, and I learned a couple of useful things.
- When you buy plastic pots for your garden, the first thing you need to do is to take your electric drill, flip over the pot and make small holes in the bottom to facilitate drainage. Many pots even have little circles embossed on the bottoms as suggestions for where to drill. This prevents your pots from getting waterlogged in the rainy season, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and reduces the dangers of over-watering.
- After you drill the holes, put something in the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage. I have, for years saved up the odd broken dishes through the summer, fall, and winter, so I’ll have them for spring planting. I’ve also picked up cheap dishes at thrift stores for this purpose, when I didn’t have enough broken dishes. Break them up into pieces an inch or so— larger than your drainage holes, but not huge, using a hammer, gloves, and eye protection. I’m also starting to use nut shells for this— I’m on a pistachio kick and, through an accident of grocery store labeling, ended up with unsalted pistachios. I’m saving the shells and putting in an herb pot I got at IKEA last week. The only downside to this green solution is that it will break down over time, so the next time I plant, I’ll have to remember to empty the pot to address drainage again. (Also, if your nuts are salted, be sure to rinse the shells if you’re going to use them this way— an excess of salt can kill most plants.) On the upside, pistachio shells are a great lightweight option for a hanging basket, and they’ll have some nutritive value as they break down. I’ve also seen people use lava rocks or other small stones for container drainage.
- Then add your potting material, compost, and/or plant material and plant as usual.