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Cleaning out wooden pots

I was wanting to build some wooden pots from old second hand timber. However, before I put any potting mix or plants in them, and also on a regular basis, I would like to clean them to prevent fungi and disease. What products could one use to due the job in an organic way? How difficult is it to clean a wooden pot properly? Should I treat the inside of the pot with any natural oils or something alike to seal the timber?



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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A


Hello and welcome to you. I use wooden training boxes in bonsai culture and they hold up reasonably well, just don't expect them to last forever. Since the material is recycled it is all a bonus anyway. A 10% bleach solution can be used to clean them initially. I am not sure if this would qualify as organic though. Please ensure that they have adequate drainage, some feet would be a good idea as well.


Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Most of the fungi and bacteria and for that matter protozoans that you will find living on and in old woood will not be pathogenic. The small number of pathogens living in that environment will be vastly outnumbered by beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoans.

Of course, they will be breaking down the wood and creating new soil for you plants to grow in. So, the relative chances of your plants acquiring a disease from composting organisms is pretty low.

Basically, what I am saying is that unless the wood has been treated with some sort of toxic compound or painted with a lead based paint, you shouldn't need to worry about cleaning them.

Just make sure that you don't use a sterilized soil when potting up your plants and add some non sterilized compost to the mix.

With the soil organisms that will already be in and on the wood, you will have a great soil community and your plants will be healthy and grow vigorously because of this with less chance of disease.

Disease usually occurs when we do all this cleaning and stripping of flora and fauna because we wash away and kill all the beneficial organisms that keep the pathogens at bay.

I will also provide this advice:

Spray your plants with a foliar spray of aerated compost tea (that you can brew at home if you like) to provide the foliage with a healthy population of flora and fauna.

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