Pacific Northwest

June, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Colorful Kiwi
Variegated kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta), is an eye-catching vine with leaves that look like they've been dipped in pink paint. In early summer, the tips of many of the large, tapered green leaves turn pink or white, and some leaves capture all three hues. The overall effect is a shimmering tapestry of colors. For the most brilliant colors, plant this vine in full sunshine. Kiwi twines, so it will need a trellis to cling to. It thrives in ordinary garden soil.

Clever Gardening Technique

Disinfecting Pots
I love gardening in containers because I can easily change the plant combinations and because pots can be reused indefinitely. But they tend to accumulate mineral deposits and other debris inside that can harbor diseases. So, for the plant's sake, I clean and disinfect the pots each time I reuse them.

Mineral salts dissolve in water and can cling to the insides of the pots. With clay pots, the minerals can leach through the walls and leave a white film on the outsides of the pots. They can also accumulate around the rims of both clay and plastic pots. Either way, the residue is unattractive.

I clean and disinfect my pots before each use by scrubbing them with a stiff brush to remove debris, then soaking them in a bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 9 parts water). After soaking for ten minutes I dip them into a solution of water and dish detergent.
This is where the hard work comes in: after setting the pots in soapy water, lift each one and scrub away as much of the dirt and mineral deposits as possible, inside and out. I use a wire-bristle brush and sometimes resort to a steel wool or nylon fiber scrubbing pad. On really tough mineral deposits on the inside rims of the containers, a sharp knife will usually work to scrape off the debris.

When the pots are clean I rinse them off and, with clay pots, soak them in clean water until I'm ready to use them. (Dry clay pots can wick moisture from the potting media, dehydrating newly potted plants.) With plastic pots I simply air dry and stack them until I'm ready to plant.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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