As I’m getting ready to start planting the containers (25 of them) in my garden. It got me thinking about doing this master gardening series on Reusing Last Season’s Potting Soil?
In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.
Short answer: yes.
Some home gardeners think they have to start with new when it’s time to plant again in spring. But unless your container (and soil) held a diseased plant, you can certainly save some money and reuse the soil for this season’s plants. I’ve never had a problem and I’ve used mine for over 4 years.
Potting soil is technically not soil at all, but a sterile mix of filler ingredients and organic matter. Sometimes the bags are labeled as “soilless,” which only adds to the confusion as there isn’t any soil in either. The common ingredients in potting soil aid in water drainage/retention, maintaining the proper pH level for sensitive plants, or delivering nutrients to the roots.
By the time your container plant has gone through a complete life cycle, it’s soil has been depleted of any and all nutrition, leaving behind only the filler ingredients that hold it in place. Before you simply plop a new plant in the soil, you’ll need to perk it up to ensure a successful new growing season.
Causal Notes For Reusing Soil
TIP #1: Soilless (container) soil is just too expensive to throw away and there’s no reason to!
1) First, dump the soil into a large tub, I use my wheelbarrow and fluff it up with a trowel or fork. Remove any weeds, seeds, roots, or remnants of the previous plant.
Leave any earthworms that’s wiggled their way into the container or find a few and throw them in there.
Worms eat the small roots as they breakdown but this isn’t a proper worm bin – don’t go nuts with them and also worms need air….no worm tombs. Also check here to see how to amend your soil.
2) Also if you have any unused seed starter mix from failed seed starting is great to mix into your spent soil bin. If any seeds sprout when you use your old soil, just pull them like weeds.
3) When using your old soil for containers, mix with new potting soil. I do this right in the container and usually eyeball it at about 50/50. Some gardeners use very little new potting soil, some use very little used potting soil.
TIP #2: Unless you are planting perennials NEVER fill the whole container with potting mix, click here to see why.
TIP #3: Landscape burlap (out in garden section) is easier to use and cheaper than crappy coco liners!
4) Used potting soil is great for working into your flower beds when planting new items. I don’t fuss over it much – I dig a hole, add some used potting soil, scratch it around with a hand tool, place the plant, fill, water with fish emulsion (love this stuff) and let the wild worms do the rest.
source, just an example of one
5) Gardening on an apartment balcony? As you replant your pots, turn them out into a tub (or trash can or empty larger pot) and mix with fresh potting soil pot by pot. Stash extra used potting soil in a bag alongside any leftover fresh potting soil. You just saved yourself money (or bought more pots and plants).
6) If your potting soil feels a little heavy (as compost tends to be dense), amend it and click here to see how.
Mix in the recommended amount of an all-purpose slow-release organic fertilizer (5-10-10) (add lime for tomatoes. An all-purpose fertilizer is well balanced and formulated for flowers, vegetables, and shrubs. You’ll only need to amend your potting soil once a season, so don’t skip this step.
Fill your container with your newly refreshed potting soil, water it well, and plant!
If you grow vegetables in your container, it’s a good idea to practice crop rotation among your containers each year by not planting the same thing in the same soil for at least two or three years. This helps avoid the spreading of diseases to new plants.
TIP #4: NEVER reuse the same soil for tomatoes. Rotate out every three years.
Save your self some money and reuse and renew your old container soil. If your not comfortable using it in your containers….you can certainly use it to amend your garden soil!
Today’s giveaway in celebration of my third blogaversary is a vintage pair of Lefton Kitchen plaques.
A pair of ceramic coffee mill and lantern, which has browns, reds, and a lovely aqua color. The scroll on the sides give even more charm to them.
To be eligible all you have to do is let me know you would like a change to win in the comments.