Cleaning containersTo help you create thriving container plantings for the summer, please consider the following... If you intend replanting any containers you should get rid of all traces of compost from the previous year. Be scrupulous in your washing as particles of previous year's compost can harbour pests, diseases and mould spores. To ensure a clean environment for growing, wash the heavier covering of old compost off with a hose. Follow this by plunging the containers into water containing a garden disinfectant such as 'Jeyes fluid'; this will be available from Milands garden centre. Scrub off any stubborn compost with a scrubbing brush, do this whilst in the disinfectant. Rinse the containers well under running water and leave them to dry. Use this method on window boxes as well, particularly if you have a build up of old compost and your planting tends to finish flowering far too early.
Container drainageCheck your container for adequate drainage holes, If you have too few or no drainage holes at all then your plants may suffer from oxygen starvation due to excess water. To prevent drainage points becoming blocked with compost, I suggest placing a layer of broken terracotta or polystyrene bedding plant trays over the drainage holes. In fact broken polystyrene bedding plant trays can also be used to fill the main body of larger containers; this will reduce the amount of potting compost needed.
Compost levelFill your container with a quality peat or loam-based compost and firm lightly. Ensure this compost stops at least 1 inch below the lip of the container; this will be your watering space.
Part 2 of 'Everybody Can Garden with Containers'...
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