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Get your pot out back

As we walked out to the car with our plants, Steve apologized for disappearing while Melody looked up plant information on the web. “I couldn’t stand there and watch that,” he said. “There are no experts anymore. Just users of Google.”

Five trillion containersWe followed Melody’s map back behind the garden center, and there, between the greenhouses, were approximately five trillion used containers.

“Oh my God,” I said. “Look at all of them.”

“No wonder she said we could take whatever we wanted,” Steve said. “There’s no way they’re going to recycle all these.”

We picked through the pots, selecting ones that looked like the right size. I still have no idea how many gallons each one holds, and I can report that none of the ones we picked out had the size printed on the bottom. I checked, just in case. “She said take whatever we wanted,” Steve repeated.

After selecting a set of pots, then trading some in for their sturdier-looking cousins, then trading more in, then shuffling them around, we made our final selections and loaded the pots in the trunk of my car. “Let’s go home and drop these off, and then go back to Paul’s Discount to get potting soil,” I said. “Then we can transplant everything.”

Steve nodded. “I think this is going to be good,” he said. “We’ll get this knocked out in an hour or two, and then we can go do something fun. Even if we can’t get over to Davenport for the blues festival, maybe we can go to a movie or something.”

“Or to the Jazz Festival?” I said.


About half an hour later, we arrived at Paul’s Discount, now traveling in Steve’s 1986 Acura Integra, A.K.A. Red Thunder. “Why are we taking my car to Paul’s?” Steve asked before we left the house.

“Because we’re going to be hauling dirt,” I replied.

“I see how it is,” he said.

Our list at Paul’s not only included potting soil, but also a shovel. We had come this far, and we couldn’t transplant using a trowel. It was time to invest in equipment. We also thought we might look for some more stakes.

Out in the parking lot, we stood at the base of the pile of soil, holding the container we’d brought as an example and trying to figure out how many 40-pound bags we would need. Our final total number of pots was eight: six for the tomatoes and peppers, two small ones for a transplant of the sage (rootbound) and the basil I’d planted in the garden (also not juglone-resistant). We eyeballed and added until we came up with our total: 20 bags of soil.

“How much are they?” Steve asked.

“Two dollars a bag,” I said. “That’s not terrible, especially considering everything we’ve spent on this so far.” I shot a glance back at Red Thunder. “Do you think we can get all of it in the car?”

“Are you kidding?” Steve said. “Red Thunder can roll with it.”

I shrugged. “OK, but remember, it’s 800 pounds of dirt.”

“No problem,” he said.

8 Comments on “Get your pot out back”

  1. #1 Sugar Creek Farm
    on Jul 7th, 2006 at 8:22 am

    You are cracking me up! Such a great story.

  2. #2 Claire Splan
    on Jul 7th, 2006 at 10:41 am

    I can’t believe that nursery made you pay for their used pots. I think you should find a new nursery.

  3. #3 Valbee
    on Jul 7th, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Why do I have a feeling that “No problem” at the end of this installment is going to prove otherwise?

    :) I’m on the edge of my seat, though, and hoping it all works out!

  4. #4 inadvertentgardener
    on Jul 7th, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks, Valbee and Sugar Creek — glad you’re enjoying the story!

    Claire, I had a chuckle at your comment. When I saw all those used pots, it occurred to me that they ought to have just thrown us them for free, but really, when all’s said and done, they sold us a small size, I think, than we actually picked out. Who knows…

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

  5. #5 Potted worms « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Nov 8th, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    [...] One of the major obstacles between me and a cleaned-up garden was the fact that I had no idea what to do with all the dirt in our various pots. The dirt exit strategy wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind when Steve and I tried to break his car during hauling. [...]

  6. #6 andy
    on Feb 16th, 2007 at 4:14 am


    I was reading about “get your pot out back” story. I was wondering if you can give me the number for the nursery with all these used pots. I am actually looking for many 15 gallons and up nursery pots.

    Thank you.


  7. #7 inadvertentgardener
    on Feb 18th, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Andy, I’m guessing you could just call any nursery in your area and ask them. Or, better yet, just stop in a local nursery and ask in person — then it’s harder for them to say no! :-)

  8. #8 Potted worms – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 1:38 am

    [...] major obstacles between me and a cleaned-up garden was the fact that I had no idea what to do with all the dirt in our various pots. The dirt exit strategy wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind when Steve and I tried to [...]

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