When it comes to potting plants, gardeners know the feeling of heading to the gardening center and throwing bags of compost into our cart. Every season, gardeners face having to shovel out more money in the hopes our garden is getting enough nutrition.
One of the main concerns I see many urban gardeners ask is whether or not they can reuse potting soil.
When it comes to budgeting, it seems like it would be the right choice, But how do you know if the soil should be reused?
If you’re worried about whether or not you should reuse your current soil, then don’t fret. I’ve taken the time to list everything you’ll need to know to reuse soil without putting your plants at risk safely.
Is It Safe to Use – if so How to Recharge Soil?
The quickest answer we can give you is that it highly depends on the circumstances. Yes, you can reuse potting soil, but you’ll need to identify if the soil is safe to use.
You’ll find that you can reuse all of the soil from the previous season in some cases. However, there are also times where you may look at the soil, and it will need to be mixed in with fertilizer.
How to Safely Identify Reusable Soil
When gardening, potted plants will slowly begin to use up the nutrients in the soil. That’s why it’s recommended to use high-quality compost when you’re planting for the new season.
As plants begin to grow, the nutrients will slowly start to diminish. Diminishing nutrients is either due to the plant-feeding off the soil or nutrients being washed away over time. It’s easy to tell when the soil starts to degrade because it will slowly become more compact.
Check Soil Quality
Soils that are still nutrient-rich should be dark in color and have a crumbly texture. Anything dry or too light in color may have already been stripped of nutrients. Avoid soils that are cloddy, powdery, or seem granular.
If the compost is somewhere in the middle, then you may still be able to use it. However, the already nutrient stripped soil will need to have fertilizer mixed into it. Overall, this still saves you a hefty investment in having to repurchase new bags of soil.
How to Reuse Repotting Soil
Once you’ve checked the soil quality and determined if you need to mix in fertilizer, you can move onto the next step. You can reuse old compost in a few different ways. The most efficient method is to use it in other parts of your garden.
1. Use in Flower Beds
Placing potted soil into your garden can provide significant benefits. Particularly putting the soil into flower beds. The flower beds will have extra nutrition that can help keep them healthy and alive. Not only that, but the insects will also come around to fertilize the flower bed.
2. Use for Vegetable Gardens
Vegetable gardens will benefit the most from rich nutrient-dense compost. So, before you reuse last year’s soil, consider mixing in half of it with a high-quality fertilizer.
Once you do, you can place the soil on the bottom level next to the plants’ roots. This will help the plant’s roots absorb any leftover nutrients from the reused soil.
3. Fill Up Holes Around Your Yard
Soil that isn’t nutritious or worth reusing can alternatively be used to fill out holes. If your land has huge gaps or bumps, you can use the oil soil to help fill them up. Using soil will save you extra cash on getting new compost or gravel to fill them in.
Significant Risks of Recycling Soil
There are two significant reasons when reusing soil, and the plants will become damaged. To sort through this, you’ll need to understand these significant two reasons. We’ve highlighted everything you need to know about pathogens and minerals.
Potted soil typically contains a bit of pathogen. Pathogens include fungi, bacteria, and other harmful organisms that can kill your plants. They are most often prevalent in container plants. However, you can still find them inside the home gardens.
Soil tends to lose minerals over time. The level of minerals left in the soil will depend on many factors. Some rooted plants tend to drain more minerals, while flowers do not.
If you use soil that is mineral deficient, then your plants will die. To reuse the soil, mix half of the ‘bad’ soil with a high-quality fertilizer to boost its nutrient and mineral content.
How to Reduce Risks
Amongst everything else, it’s essential to try and reduce the risks. We’ve taken the time to thoroughly research and provide a handful of methods you can use to prevent ruining your garden.
1. Avoid using soil from diseased plants
Similarly, with germs, plants can pass on diseases to each other. If you take the ground from a diseased plant and put it with a new plant, the new plant will die. The best you can do is toss the soil and get fresh compost for your plant.
2. Always pasteurize old potting soil
Soil from previous pots ends up having other debris in them. The problem with that is that it boosts pathogens and insects, which can be harmful to your garden. To kill off these harmful elements, you’ll need to follow a few steps.
First, take the soil and put it in black plastic bags. From there, let the soil sit in the sun for at least a day. Pasteurization has occurred after a day has passed, and the pathogens and insects wouldn’t have a stable living environment. All other weeds, twigs, or random elements will be rendered useless.
3. Fertilize Your Containers
Before you pot your plants, consider adding fertilizer.
If you consistently add fertilizer, then the soil will stay nutrient-dense and can be used multiple times. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Plus, it also saves you the hassle of having to haul compost bags each season.
To fertilize your soil, either follow the instructions on the bag or use a 1:1 ratio. This will give you optimal soil quality.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining a garden is often expensive, especially when you have to change the soil each season. One of the best methods to cut a massive chunk out of your investments is to reuse soil. Hopefully, we’ve helped you a bit more about learning how to can reuse soil safely.