One of the most commonly asked questions from people about to embark on vegetable container gardening is “Can I reuse containers?”
As we pointed out in an earlier post, one can use just about anything as a container for gardening. There’s really no limit to the stuff you can come up with once you start thinking about it! I like to use gallon ice cream containers – they are perfect for starting small plants.
However, whether they have been used for food, or as a container for last season’s plants, you should always wash your containers before planting anything new in them. Bacteria and other disease carrying organisms can linger on the surfaces of your containers, ultimately causing your plants to sicken and possibly die.
To prevent this there is a very simple way to clean and disinfect your containers. First rinse off any dirt or debree still on the interior and exterior of the container (or, if it was a food container like an ice-cream bucket or yogurt container, wash with soap and water to remove food particles.) Then immerse containers in a solution that is 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. This will kill any remaining bacteria and disease carrying organisms. Finally, dry with a clean cloth, or let air dry. That’s it!