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Ah, The Clay Pot

Clay potsIt's my most favorite container to grow in and over the years I've learned that terra cotta isn't always terra cotta.

Buyer beware.

Buy the best you can afford.

There are lots of clay containers on the market to choose from: American, Italian, German, Mexican, and English. All have their qualities and price.

Look for pots that are smooth, hard, strong, and pure in color.

Like thunking a watermelon, pots should have a ring. A sour note will indicate a hairline crack.

All pots will allow minerals to build up in them from the salts in the water and fertilizers and some will grow moss nicely. This may be charming or a great ugliness to you.

By scratching the surface, you can tell if it has been fired properly. If it has there will be no marks.

Clay potsIf there is a smooth feeling and the finish has solid color it was made from pure clay. If it is rough one can see white spots - unfortunately the manufacturer has left impurities. This will cause flaking and cracking.

Enjoy your pots for the classic containers they have become. Nothing is better than a clay pot and like I always say, one can not have enough clay pots. Use them until you can't stand it and then use them as crocking.

Emily: My clay pots are black!

Dear Emily: I have red clay pots that have turned black on the out side and I would I like to know how to clean them to make them look nice? I have used vinegar & water hot soapy water.

Clay pot with white salt build upA: I scrub my clay pots after soaking them overnight in water to loosen up any hard and crusty matter, with Clorox. Soap and Water is good, and so is vinegar, but with a ratio of one part Clorox to 10 parts water and lots of elbow grease and a brush.....this should get them pretty spiffy.

Black is probably some mold and fungus growing.

In addition, air drying them in full sun is great. Solarization kills many things and sun will also bleach.

Emily: My clay pots are white!

Dear Emily: I have recently planted some houseplants into clay pots. After watering them a couple of times all of the clay pots have a white powdery substance on the outside of them. What does this come from?

A: The white you see is salt build up from the watering. No real problem. Just wipe it off or wash it off. One does not want to let it get too thick and crusty.

Tip: Clay pots can be used for more than just potting flowers. They can be turned into chimes. Or pot people. Candle holders. And, more than anything, for baking.