CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the summer blooms fade in the pots by the front door, I'll go to the garden center and find fall-blooming perennials that I want to add to my garden. I put these in the pots, temporarily, to keep the pots attractive during the autumn months. Then, before the frost, I'll put them into the ground, thereby getting more bang for my buck.
We've been adding fall bloomers to the garden over the years, and I'm loving the asters and the sedums and the Caryopteris. I brought in a few more Joe-Pye weeds by collecting seeds from the end of the driveway and dispersing them in another spot closer to the house.
The beautyberry bush is covered with purple berries. And the ornamental grasses are showing their versatility by producing large, blowsy seed heads that sway in the breeze.
I'm saving my hyacinth bean vine seeds again this fall. I just love that vine! It's a great addition to pots and it just goes crazy -- a great filler.
A co-worker asked if she should save the potting soil in her pots and reuse it next year. This is a topic of debate among gardeners. Frugal gardeners reuse the soil, but the soil can contain diseases that will stay in the soil year after year.
More important, most potting soil doesn't have much "dirt" in it -- it's got lots of organic material that is depleted after the growing season.
Like a farmer, think about "rotating" crops if you plan to reuse. If you plant tomatoes, year after year, in that same soil, it's bound to be lacking in many nutrients essential to the plant. Put something different in that pot if you're going to reuse.
Another reasonable alternative is to dump all of the soil into a large, clean trashcan or onto a large tarp. Mix in some Perlite, peat moss and, if you have it, some good compost. Adding a new bag of soil to the mix helps as well. This rejuvenates the soil, but you'll still need to add a good fertilizer when you plant. Some people use pine bark fines, or a product called soil conditioner, instead of peat moss -- it lasts longer.
I put the old potting soil into my beds each year, and get new stuff for the pots in the spring.