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If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.
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Sunken Pots

How to have a fresh garden all summer long.

You want container plants for the patio, porch or balcony, but many plants aren't tough enough to do a winter above ground.

Easy. Sink them into the ground.

That's a lot of work.

Sort of.

Try this for an idea. This works best if you have an auger.

Drill a hole 2 feet deep. Put an used #5 pot (about 12 inches high x 10.5 inches wide) upside down in the bottom. This forms the drainage bell. Set a 5 gallon pail on top of it. This is the socket pot. The grooved ridges of the pail should be above the ground. Dark coloured pots are less obvious, and are more resistant to sun damage.

Drill four 1 inch diameter holes through the bottom of the pail and bottom of the pot. If you do both at once, they line up. Spade bits (look sort of like a spoon hammered flat.) work fine.

This gives a place for extra water to go.

Now: Plant a #5 pot with whatever you want. This is the liner pot.

During the summer, you can put the liner pot wherever you want. Return it to it's socket pot in winter.

Musical Pots.

You can use socket pots anywhere, not just for storage. They are easy to weed, and if the stuff around them goes crazy, you can pull the pot, spray the weeds, wait a day and put the pot back

Let's say you have 6 socket pots lining the driveway.

In the fall you set liner pots up with grape hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. They overwinter here in the driveway sockets. (The pots protect them from mice too...)

In spring they bloom. Meanwhile, you have planted some bedding plants in another set of liners. They can be planted early, because you can bring them into the garage if there is danger of frost, but normally they will set out back in the utility area of your yard. If you have a small green house, you can get a 6 week start on this.

When the tulips finish, they swap places with the bedding plants. Come fall, remove the bedding plants, and prep them for next spring. Meanwhile the spring bulbs come back to the driveway sockets.

You can be more complex than this, by putting more socket pots in your utility area.

You can have a set of liners for spring bulbs, early summer asiatic lilies, late summer oriental lilies.

Pot selections

A #5 pot in a pail is a perfect fit. If 4" of the pail are above ground, then the top of the liner pot is about even with the surface of the ground. This is ideal.

You can also use a 5 gallon pail as the liner pot. This puts the liner pot about 4 inches higher. You may want to set socket pots at ground level, and not use mulch. Note that pails come in two diameters -- I think made by two manufacturers. They are different by about 1/8" One kind has 4 ribs at the top, other has 3 but the top rib is slightly bend over. A 3 rib fits easily into a 4 rib. The other way jams with an extra few inches sticking out.

It can be hard to get the pot out. Two tricks:

This is just one combination that works well. If you have an in with a local landscape company, see if you can get their used pots. The ideal socket pot is fairly solid. The flimsy blow moulded ones tend to collapse from the pressure of the dirt, particularly when they are empty, and the ground is soft.

The liner pot should fit the socket fairly closely. You want the first inch or so of snow to fill the gap between the liner and the socket. You can make up for undersize liners by adding a few inches of dry leaves.

Liner pot shouldn't be full when you have plants in it. You want the liner's soil level to be level with the ground. Don't count mulch in this. Ignore mulch either in the liner or around the socket.


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.