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#1062830 - Tue Sep 02 2014 04:40 PM Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks
sue943 Offline

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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 36532
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
If you have any gardening problems, tips etc please post here and other members will attempt to assist you. Please note, from time to time a person will want a plant or specific problem identifying so for that purpose a photo will be permitted but not, please, just photos of your garden as those are catered for in the Photo a Day.
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#1062833 - Tue Sep 02 2014 05:01 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
Thanks Sue! There are quite a few times where over in the Photo threads someone asks "what's this plant", or can offer advice on how to get plant x to actually bear fruit, etc., that I thought a thread specifically about gardening might appeal to people wherever they live. smile
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#1062835 - Tue Sep 02 2014 05:13 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
ren33 Offline
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Great idea Flopsy! Thanks.
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#1062853 - Tue Sep 02 2014 08:00 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
mehaul Offline
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Registered: Wed Feb 03 2010
Posts: 6187
Loc: Florida USA
An autumnal bit of advice is to make sure all debris from the past growing season is removed and composted or discarded. This helps lower next year's starting population of insect pests and fungi in the local vicinity of your garden. Many times an invasion of such pariahs as mealy bugs goes unnoticed in the first year they invade. Allowing them to overwinter presents a near impossible riddance challenge and one may force a need to wait a whole year until the fall clean up can work to remove their larva. Purely ornamentals for color -?- then chemicals may be used but for the veggie garden, hygiene habits are a must.

I remember in the 50s, my grandfather every fall would mist the lawn with gasoline and light it. This burned off any mower thatch on top of the soil and incinerated Chinch bug larva and other beetle grub type pests. The ash would slowly over the winter seep into the soil enriching it. Since burning has been outlawed, chinch bugs have become a staple of income for the pesticide applicators on our suburban grass expanses. Still good hygiene helps prevent population eruptions. Dethatching a lawn to remove decaying leaf blades helps against the insects and molds and fungi too.
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#1062867 - Tue Sep 02 2014 10:04 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2063
Loc: Alberta Canada
That's very good advice where you live mehaul.

Way up here though, it's best to leave the dead stuff until the snow has disappeared enough in the spring to get at it. Over winter, it serves as a protection so that you don't have to put a snowsuit on the more tender perennials (we're only zone 3 where I live lol) But yes, you have to deal with it before things start budding in the spring, as even we have bug/fungus issues if they're not attended to promptly before the rains come. Oh yeah and we have that snow mould thang happening too, so we need to at least rake the lawn.

We don't generally have mealybugs though, they're more of an indoor plant pest and are usually "brought in" when (well meaning) folks gift you with plants that they didn't inspect thoroughly before purchasing ~ Orchids are the usual suspects. Plenty of other nasty outside insects though!

Although I've never seen them on my lawn, some folks here DO get cinch bugs (more likely in the southern parts of the province as they need heat to reproduce). Many of them get killed off during winter, but they're immune to most insecticides (not even DDT will do them in - not that anyone should be using it anyway lol). Trouble is, cinch bugs produce at least 3 hatchings per season (even here). I can understand why your folks resorted to the means they did.

And, it's not really necessary to dethatch our lawns up here EVERY year as long as the grass is properly mowed, fertilised and watered. Healthy grass is quite capable of fighting off all kinds of nuisances. Sometimes it's too much of a "good thing" if done too often and can result in a lot of bare patches. Considering that our active growing season is only about 3 months long, that's not enough time for the grass to recover once it's butchered lol. In any case, I consider grass one of the worst weeds ever (except on a golf course lol) so we keep reducing the amount of lawn we have every year. I think these days, it takes hubby no more than 20 minutes in total to mow the front, sideyard and backyard
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#1062989 - Wed Sep 03 2014 04:33 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Christinap Offline
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Registered: Sun Jul 27 2008
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Loc: Essex UK
Does anyone have a tip on how to ripen up outdoor tomatoes. I have loads, but they are still green, and with the nights drawing in and temperatures reducing accordingly they just don't seem to want to ripen. I've taken out the growing tips, stripped off the lower foliage so they get plenty of air etc. but they remain persistently green.

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#1063031 - Wed Sep 03 2014 08:42 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
DivineMsDRL Offline
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Registered: Mon Jul 07 2008
Posts: 180
Loc: Okotoks Alberta Canada       
I have picked all mine and they are downstairs on newspaper in a dark spot. I have had them ripen this way many times. I have also put them in cardboard boxes covered with a lid. Hopes this works for you. Our temperature will probably be around 0C tonight. Hope this helps.
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#1063071 - Thu Sep 04 2014 04:23 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: DivineMsDRL]
MotherGoose Offline
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Loc: Western Australia
This thread is a brilliant idea! Especially since I'll mostly be asking questions (LOL)!
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#1063075 - Thu Sep 04 2014 04:56 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
How many have you got, Chris? They won't hurt if you leave them outside to try ripening them on the plant, at least not until there's a frost and we're not likely to have one of those for a while. Or you can put some on the windowsill - until you run out of windows. Or you can put a few into a paper bag and add a banana. Or you can put them in a box, in which case remove the stalks and only put in a couple of layers at the most because they damage easily. Add a banana if you want them to ripen quickly. If you're going to pick them, I'd do it in stages so you continue to get fruit ripening at different times. Also if they're really green and hard once picked they'll never ripen so pick the ones which have a slight tinge and feel softer than the green bullets.

Alternatively, do what my dad did (and not just with tomatoes) and lift the whole plant out of the grobag, brush off the dirt, and hang the whole lot right way up in the garage/shed where it still gets some light and just let it be.

OR make green tomato chutney. grin
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#1063138 - Thu Sep 04 2014 11:49 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2063
Loc: Alberta Canada
Chutney is a great idea. And pickled green tomatoes are fabulous. You can also use fresh green ones in homemade salsa in place of tomatillos. Or deep fry them (oh my, now I want to make some lol).

As Divine has said, newsprint works really well. Wrap them up, put them in a cardboard box in a cool area of your house (basement, if you have one). Check on them periodically, as they can ripen pretty darn fast this way. Don't forget to look at the ones on the bottom of the box lol.

I've never needed a banana, but fruit in general works well with other things because of the gas they give off (which can be a good reason to keep your fruit separate from your vegetables in your fridge drawers).

I've also never had a green tomato that didn't ripen no matter how hard it was, but the trick is that you have to keep them in a cool place, else they'll rot before they get to whatever colour they're supposed to be.

Hanging them up is way too much work in my opinion (and doesn't really change the end taste any), but if your aesthetic goal is VINE ripened, then I suppose you'll have to roll up your sleeves and get busy lol.

In any case, patience is a virtue so they say (anyone know where I can buy some?), so if you're not expecting frost anytime soon, no need to panic and pick them all : )


Edited by Jakeroo (Thu Sep 04 2014 11:55 AM)
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#1063190 - Thu Sep 04 2014 05:25 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Christinap Offline
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Loc: Essex UK
Thanks folks, I've brought a few in and put them on a windowsill, and I'll just leave the rest and hope they ripen up on the plants outside. As you say flopsy, we shouldn't get a frost for some weeks yet. Anything that is still green when the frosts arrive I shall turn into chutney, I like green tomato chutney and I've got a good recipe for it, was my Gran's.

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#1063196 - Thu Sep 04 2014 08:35 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
MarchHare007 Offline
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Registered: Wed Aug 08 2007
Posts: 216
Loc: Jilliby NSW Australia         
I'm finding this interesting regarding the tomatoes - and the overall concept of troubleshooting gardens all over the planet.

Here in Oz I've had tomatoes pretending they are lemons for months, they grow nicely up a fruit tree, and they've remained green and happy, then ripened within days when I picked them and put them on the kitchen window sill. Not a lot of direct sunshine there at this time of the year but much cosier inside.

I've never put any fruit or vegies in the dark except potatoes and onions.
I'm extending my ability in case I emigrate!
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#1063204 - Thu Sep 04 2014 10:04 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2063
Loc: Alberta Canada
Well MarchHare, you're welcome to visit me anytime, but I'm not sure you'd actually want to live here once you've experienced Alberta winters LOL.

Putting things in the dark in our climate is a "pioneer" wisdom. Probably not suited to your part of the world.

Um, can I come visit you instead?

I once worked with a lady who originated from NZ. She said they actually had four growing "seasons" in a year (I wish!). She eventually moved to British Columbia where the weather, although sometimes "wet", is altogether more enjoyable - for both humans and plants : ) Canada is a ridiculously large country, so what we might do on "the prairies", isn't necessarily what folks would do where say, SpanishLiz lives.

Your country is pretty big too, with diverse weather conditions that either inhibit or benefit different things such as the great wines you produce. Pretty much nobody in Alberta makes wine (unless from a "kit" lol) because we can't grow grapes in the huge quantities necessary.

Oh well, at least we can claim to be "stoic" (giggles).
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#1063224 - Fri Sep 05 2014 12:11 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
MarchHare007 Offline
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Registered: Wed Aug 08 2007
Posts: 216
Loc: Jilliby NSW Australia         
Jakeroo, Environment Canada lists Alberta first for having the most comfortable weather overall in Canada.
Were you asked to participate 'in that' survey? wink

A quick snapshot shows me that weather in Alberta is very similar to what we're experiencing at present, but perhaps you're a little drier. Positively fluffy here!

So far we've had two rather half-baked growing seasons. The ground chilled off too early, then the air warmed up with a little heatwave, then everything went to sleep but the ground temp warmed up again. Most bizarre.
I've only just pruned my roses and my pear trees are flowering. And my freesia meadow is very happy.

We have lots of micro-climates around here because of the valleys. Different aspects and very different elevations.

Perhaps we could plan a house-swap sometime? How are you with wildlife? laugh
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#1063229 - Fri Sep 05 2014 01:43 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Jakeroo Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2063
Loc: Alberta Canada
Wildlife? Err, you mean poisonous snakes, spiders and cane toads? lol. I suppose I could survive with a good pair of boots and my handgun ~ How are you with grizzly bears, rampaging mother moose and hungry cougars and coyotes? Not that you'd find any of those in my backyard, 'cept maybe the occasional moose or coyote.

In any case house swap sounds wonderful. I might even clean the place before you get here.

Environment Canada is full of baloney on that issue. Yes, I know we have "Sunny Alberta" emblazoned on our vehicle license plates, and it's probably true that we have more sunny days than a lot of other places, especially the coastal areas. But trust me, if it's 40 below, "sunny" doesn't make it feel any warmer and it doesn't help your car start either lol.

And yes it's nearly always quite dry here, humidity wise. I have the wrinkles to prove it. But I'll spare you the "dry cold" jokes.

I know your weather is opposite from ours, so while your stuff is blooming, ours is either maturing or dying 'bout now. Last year we had probably 200 apples on our tree. This year only THREE (fine by me, since I haven't done a thing with them in years other than pick up the rotting ones and putting them either in the garbage or the composter depending on their condition (i.e. if there's larvae in them, they go in a garbage bag as we're not allowed to burn anything these days). I detest applesauce and apple juice (reminds me of hospitals) and you can only make so many apple pies before you have to start pitching them out of the freezer because they've been in there too long lol. Sometimes many apples stay on the tree over winter and in that case, there is at least entertainment value in them as the birds eat the (by then) fermented fruit, get ridiculously drunk and fall out of the trees lol.

The pears (they're Ure ones, from Russia, so really really small and not like anything you'd buy in a grocery) are doing well so far, but they don't usually ripen before frost, so I have to pick them before then and bring them into the house. They're worth the trouble. And their small size makes them perfect for canning whole (yes I core them first, it's a fiddly job). They're particularly good with brandy as their "brine" : )


Edited by Jakeroo (Fri Sep 05 2014 01:51 AM)
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#1063233 - Fri Sep 05 2014 02:51 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
I don't think that putting things in the dark is a "pioneer" wisdom - it's just another habit imported from the old country, though which one is probably arguable. smile Why their cousins didn't extend the same wisdom to Australian fruit is beyond me. Maybe they just ate it, ripe or not.

My mother had an apple tree which grew sixteen different varieties of apple so we ate all that fruit in a spirit of adventure. She used to make a slit in the old apple tree, then she would insert a twig she'd cut off someone else's tree and bind round the join with strong tape. And hey presto, the twig would grow into a branch and the branch would grow apples of whatever fruit had grown on its original tree. I could reach out of my bedroom window and pick at least three varieties before I needed to climb out for a change in diet. grin

I do know what Jakeroo means about having more fruit than you can eat though - I'm the same with plums. I can't pick them fast enough to prevent the wasps getting at them and as I hate wasps once they're on the fruit the rest falls to the ground where it rots. Fortunately, for me though not for it, my plum tree died in the cold winter two years ago so this year it got chopped down and the wasps had to find someone else to bother. smile
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#1063234 - Fri Sep 05 2014 03:03 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Santana2002 Offline
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Registered: Mon Apr 14 2003
Posts: 8480
Loc: France
I hear you loud and clear for the super abundance of fruit when they come into season. Plums are the thing here where I live, and my neighbours are literally in competition with each other to offer me their surplus when they see me driving in from work. They come at me from all fronts and the first to get to me is the one who manages to "offload" her bounty! One neighbor has become sneaky: she leaves a bucketful on my doorstep when I'm at work, before the others can get to me grin

Thankfully the plum season is nearly over, I have enough jam and syrup and plumsauce to keep me going for about two years.

But I see the apples beginning to fall from the trees everywhere now, I guess I'll be peeling and chopping for a while to come ...
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#1063240 - Fri Sep 05 2014 04:07 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
When one of my uncles retired he got a part-time job on a fruit farm and the workers there could help themselves to as much as they liked. Now, my uncle had had twelve children but by this time they had all left home and his wife had died many years previously so he only had his own needs to cater for plus an occasional grandchild calling in but his mind hadn't downsized so he still catered for a crowd. He took apples home by the barrowload and I was glad he did - when I was a student in the same town I'd stop by to see him and he'd load up the boot of my car until it was overflowing with apples. I think he kept the entire university healthy with that fruit. smile
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#1063279 - Fri Sep 05 2014 11:38 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Christinap Offline
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Registered: Sun Jul 27 2008
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Loc: Essex UK
We have had so many plums this year, and it is always a race between us, the wasps and the birds.

I'm dripping with runner beans at the moment. Really heavy crop. I'm picking every day and can hardly keep up with them. I freeze down the surplus for over winter

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#1063296 - Fri Sep 05 2014 12:51 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
Delia Smith has a wonderful plum chutney recipe, yum.

When I made some it was also the first time I'd ever made a chutney so naturally I didn't have any of the kit. Jars were easy enough, and the tops but finding the right pans in my kitchen was not going to happen. I didn't have a pan for making jam, and even if I could borrow one I had a rather temperamental halogen hob which made a pan like that inadvisable. I'm not sure if it actually would have cracked the hob but I wasn't going to risk it. I wheeled out my largest saucepans... still not big enough... and then I realised I did have a large volume pan with a small base which fitted on the hob quite nicely so I used that.

I'm the only person I know who used a wok to make chutney. laugh
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#1063300 - Fri Sep 05 2014 02:34 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
sue943 Offline

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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 36532
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
It must be a good year for plums, Waitrose has been full of them these past weeks, I have two punnets in the kitchen at the moment and they are delicious.
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#1063313 - Fri Sep 05 2014 03:04 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: flopsymopsy]
Santana2002 Offline
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Registered: Mon Apr 14 2003
Posts: 8480
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: flopsymopsy
...I did have a large volume pan with a small base which fitted on the hob quite nicely so I used that.

I'm the only person I know who used a wok to make chutney. laugh


Excellent! grin grin grin
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#1063330 - Fri Sep 05 2014 04:35 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Christinap Offline
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Registered: Sun Jul 27 2008
Posts: 1700
Loc: Essex UK
Originally Posted By: sue943
It must be a good year for plums, Waitrose has been full of them these past weeks, I have two punnets in the kitchen at the moment and they are delicious.


It does seem to have been Sue. Everyone round here has more than they can cope with, and all the supermarkets have masses of British plums on sale. There is something rather special though about a plum you pick, warm from the sun, and eat within seconds. Trouble is too many of them is not necessarily a good thing for the stomach.

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#1063474 - Sat Sep 06 2014 04:50 PM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
flopsymopsy Offline
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Registered: Sat May 17 2008
Posts: 3469
Loc: Northampton England UK      
Over the next few weeks I'm going to be planting tubs and pots with various flowers to, I hope, give some colour to the garden/house over winter. So I have a selection of plants in varying stages of readiness, and know that I can't finish planting some of them until October - the plants have to be big enough first.

Anyway, I want to get a head start by at least planting some bulbs (I can always plant things like violas on top of them later) but before I do that has anyone got any advice on winter-proofing the tubs/pots? I know some people cover tubs in bubble wrap when it gets really cold but as I haven't planted anything much yet I wondered if I could put bubble wrap into the pots before adding the compost? And thereby avoid wrestling with pots full of compost in the bleak midwinter?
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#1063523 - Sun Sep 07 2014 02:31 AM Re: Gardening Queries, Tips and Tricks [Re: sue943]
Christinap Offline
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Registered: Sun Jul 27 2008
Posts: 1700
Loc: Essex UK
Assuming your tubs are terracotta then putting bubble wrap inside won't help. Terracota is naturally porous and the damage comes when they get wet, the water soaks in and when it turns to ice it expands and the tub cracks. The best thing I've ever found is this

Dip them in a PVA glue solution. 10 parts water to one part glue. Find a container big enough so you can get the pot completely submerged. Mix the solution, dip the pot for 30 to 45 seconds and let it dry for 24 hours, that will then seal and waterproof it. Works on any porous pot. If the water can't get in then the ice crystals can't expand and cause damage

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