Vintage Pacific NW: We’re revisiting some of our favorite stories from some of our favorite former magazine contributors. Check back each week for timeless classics focusing on food, fitness, gardening and more.

Originally published April 9, 2009
By Ciscoe Morris, former In the Garden writer

HOUSEPLANTS NEED TO BE repotted from time to time to keep them healthy and vigorous. Spring, when your houseplants are actively growing, is the best time to repot. Keep in mind, however, that most houseplants perform best when they are slightly rootbound, and many flowering houseplants will bloom only if they are rootbound. Also be aware that repotting too soon, or into a pot that is too much larger, can cause root rot. 

With all that in mind, it’s definitely time to repot if your plant looks stressed and the water runs directly into the saucer when you give your plant a drink. 

Choose a pot that is only about an inch larger in diameter than the previous one. Don’t add pebbles in the bottom of the pot to improve drainage; it has the opposite effect. Knock the plant out of the old pot, gently wash the soil from the roots in a warm pail of water and repot at the same depth the plant was in the last pot. Keep your newly repotted plant in the shade for about a week, and mist the leaves daily. 

Get your lawn looking good again 
If the cold, hard winter beat the living tweetle out of your lawn, leaving it a thinned-out embarrassment, it’s time to whip it back in shape. Rent an aerator machine, and use it to pull plugs out of your lawn. Don’t worry about raking up the plugs, because they’ll break down in no time. Then overseed with a 50-50 mix by weight (or as close to this mix as you can find) of perennial rye and fine fescue grass seed. Be sure to rake the seeds into the holes, because the grass seedlings that germinate on the thatch-laden soil surface won’t survive. 


Fertilize with a good organic lawn fertilizer and keep the soil surface moist. Before you know it, your lawn will look like a pro baseball field. 

Grow carrots in a pot 
Don’t let lack of garden space stop you from growing vegetables. As long as you can find a sunny spot, carrots are easy to plant in a container. Start with a wide pot that is at least 12 inches deep, and fill it with a quality potting soil. Before you sow seed, mix in an organic “vegetable”-type fertilizer, applying only the amount recommended on the label. Too much fertility results in hairy, unappetizing carrots. 

Sow the seed only 1/8-inch deep, 2 to 3 inches apart in all directions, and water as often as necessary to maintain evenly moist soil. It’s a good idea to cover the pot with row-crop covers, available at your local nursery, to prevent problems with carrot rust fly. You can harvest carrots any time they’re big enough to eat, but they become tastier as they mature and are especially sweet after being hit by frost late in the season. 

Make carrot container gardening extra-fun for kids by planting a mix of colorful carrot varieties, such as Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple and Solar Yellow, available from Ed Hume Seeds. Ed also offers a packet containing a variety of colors in his Rainbow Blend.