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Growing Stuff  Articles:   14. Going to Pot
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14. Going to Pot
       No, this is not about growing forbidden grass for smoking but about the use of pots in your garden! If you have read other articles in this part of Rochford Life, you will know that we use these particular pages to encourage those who would perhaps not have seen themselves as gardeners to develop and do more stuff with that patch of ground out back. Moreover, life being what it is, we tend to add these articles when something happens to stir our thinking in a particular direction. Well, wandering around various Garden Centres during the summer months, we’ve been struck by the numbers of pallets and stands that carry pots. And pots come in a shapes and sizes and materials.....
                ... big pots....                            .....very big pots......                                  .......and smaller pots
                ... round pots....                            .....square pots......                                  .......and all shapes pots.
So why might you want to branch out from your traditional flower beds, why might you want to use pots? The big disadvantage of pots, of course, is that they cost money and you can be spending anything from five pounds to over fifty pounds. So why go to that expense?

Perhaps an obvious answer is that you have a small garden and pots are easy to manage. Pots can be fun and a group of pots can make an interesting feature in the garden.  Set some pots on a gravel bed and the maintenance of that area becomes easier.
So how to go about using pots? First decide what you are intending to put in your pot(s) and where it will be located. Check that the pot has a drainage hole (so it doesn’t become waterlogged in a downpour) and put stones, broken pottery or even broken up polystyrene in the bottom of it to aid drainage. If its earthenware make sure it is frost-proof.
Personally I don’t like multi-compost because it tends to dry out too quickly. I prefer a mix of earth, multi-compost and compost from one of my compost bins. ‘Plastic’ pots are cheaper but if they are situated in the sun they tend to dry out quicker and need much more watering and attention. This summer I counteracted that by putting a paving slab in front of a pot with tomato plants in.
Another reason you might turn to pots is that you have run out of ground elsewhere or you have expanses of path or patio that you’d like to use to grow things. This summer I experimented growing sweet corn in pots as well as my usual tomatoes. The problem with trying to grow too much in one pot is that the plants need much more nourishment than your one pot can give them and they also need a lot of watering, but it’s fun trying!

A problem with pots is that if you go away on holiday you’ll need to get a neighbour to pop in and water them for you because they are more prone than your flower bed to drying out. There are proprietary watering systems but you are moving into bigger money here. The use of watering gels is possible but probably not for really water-hungry plants as here.
I’ve also used pots in odd spaces for growing herbs and one of the fun things with pots is that every now and then, rogue seeds turn up as in the pot on the left where I did not plant the ferns - but they now look really good.

So there we are, we’ve done what we set pout to do, to plant some ideas in your head. There is so much more we could say about using pots to add interest to your garden but, hey, you’ll learn along the way. If you can afford the outlay, give it a try.

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