vegetable patch management
Edge pots
Edge pots are a convenient and versatile way to create a barrier between bare soil and a mulched bed.

description of an edge pot
Illustration of an edge pot.
Edge pots create a barrier between the mulch and a seedling or planted seeds.
An edge pot is the cut off top of a plastic pot.  It has a vertical cut at some point on the top so the pot can be removed from underneath a vegetable once the pot is no longer needed. 

when to use edge pots
Edge pots can be used anytime mulch has a negative effect on young seedlings or sprouting seeds.  Such as :-
  1. In early Spring when you need warm soils to germinate heat loving seeds or to encourage growth in heat loving plants.  Bare soil warms up much more quickly than soil covered in mulch as mulch acts as an insulating layer.
  2. in Spring when the threat from snails a slugs is at it's greatest.  The bare soil can be covered with snail and slug deterrents such as eggshells and/or gravel.
  3. To protect vegetables susceptible to collar rot.  Placing wet mulch right up against the sides of vegetables greatly increases the risk of collar rot.
  4. Anytime snails and slugs are in large numbers.
Edge pot around two young basil seedlings
Edge pot around a couple of young basil seedlings.  Basil needs high soil temperatures to thrive.

Photo of different sized edge pots.
Three different edge pot sizes.

Photo of an edge pot cut.
Edge pot showing the vertical cut.  This cut allows you to remove the pot out from under a vegetable that has grown larger than the diameter of the pot.
Edge pot sizes
Unlike Ground Pots there is almost no limit to the pot size that can be used as edge pots.  All but the very smallest of pots can be used, though for larger plants it is better to use larger pots.

how to make an edge pot
Making an edge pot is very easy.  Take a plastic pot and measure about 80 mm (3") below the top then mark this point with pencil.  Repeat this process three or four times around the pot.  Then with a stanley knife cut off the bottom of the pot using the pencil marks to keep the cut even with the top.

Next make a horizontal cut at one point.  This is so you can remove the ring pot from around a vegetable without having to draw the pot up over the top of the plant.  While ring pots can be left in place throughout the life cycle of the vegetable I often remove them when the plant is half grown and covering up the bare gap the edge pot has left with more mulch.

Edge pots offer extra protection for young seedlings and germinating seeds by keeping them clear of surrounding mulch.  They are also a good way to recycle used pots.