The not-so-enjoyable part of planting a garden is cleaning up everything.
Obviously, you should pull the old plants out of your beds at the end of the season. You should also clean your garden tools before storing them for the winter. But, one thing folks don’t tell you is to CLEAN and SANITIZE your starter pots.
Why would you need to do that? It’s just dirt, right? And next year, it’ll be new dirt. Dirt is dirt. Have you had new plants that seeded beautifully, then for no reason, just stopped growing and died. Did you use last year’s pots but didn’t clean them? It’s called damping off and it’s a soil-borne disease that attacks seedlings. Ugh. This seedling blight can live on dirty pots and trays for years. We don’t want to do all that work and spend all that money for soil and seed just to have young plants die.
Also, with all that dirt and water and plants comes fungal spores. You won’t see them. You may have even had some good starter plants this year in spite of them. But, if you don’t clean and sanitize your pots, they will only grow and get worse next spring.
Your pots may also suffer from mineral deposits from your water, and that needs to come off, too.
The good news is – it’s super easy to clean and sanitize!!!
1. Empty the old soil out of the pots. No, don’t save it for next year.
2. Wash the pots in warm soapy water and rinse well.
3. Sanitize. Spray with a generous spritz of hydrogen peroxide and let air dry.
Some folks soak in 10-1 water-bleach and rinse, but I’d be a tad concerned about missing some bleach. Hydrogen peroxide won’t hurt your plants, so I’m more comfortable with that method.
If you neglected to do this after your pots were finished in the spring, you can always do it before starting your new plants. Just let the hydrogen peroxide sit for 20 minutes then wipe dry.
Happy Planting (next year)!