Purchasing potting soil is undoubtedly expensive. Fortunately, you can always reuse potting soil.
You don’t have to keep on buying new potting soil at the start of every planting season. However, when reusing potting soil, ensure you use it right. Otherwise, you risk damaging your plants.
Ways to reuse potting soil
- 1 Ways to reuse potting soil
- 2 What are the risks involved in reusing potting soil?
- 3 How can you reuse potting soil without killing your plants?
If you plan to reuse potting soil, the first thing to do would be to remove the old plants first. Then, brush the soil to make it fuller and proceed with planting. Suppose the potting soil is very old; you’ll have to reduce it by 50% and mix it with fertilizer.
It is essential to understand all the risks involved in using reused potting soil. This way, you’ll know the best way to safeguard your plants.
What are the risks involved in reusing potting soil?
Reused potting soil often has harmful microorganisms that can harm the plants. This soil also contains disease-causing organisms that completely damage the plants.
Reused potting soil tends to have a lower percentage of nutrients and minerals. Therefore, plants grown on reused potting soil lack certain nutrients. And this makes them weaker and diseased.
How can you reuse potting soil without killing your plants?
- Avoid disease-infected potting soil:
Never use potting soil that once had pathogens. Such soil adversely affects healthy soil. In turn, it weakens the plant and causes them to die in the long run.
- Pasteurize old potting soil before using it
Previously used potting soil contains a broad spectrum of microorganisms, weeds, and pests. Therefore, you cannot use it before sterilizing it. Sterilizing potting soil often involves exposing the soil to high temperatures.
Consider baking the soil under the sun. The first step to soil sterilization is to fill the soil in plastic bags. Afterward, place the plastic bags in a sunny location. Alternatively, consider baking the soil in your standard oven.
High temperatures tend to destroy all harmful microorganisms and pathogens in the soil. You can also use trash cans to reuse the potting soil. However, plastic bags are more user-friendly.
Baking the potting soil in the oven is more efficient than placing the soil under the sun. If you use an oven, set temperatures of approximately 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the soil for 30 minutes.
- Fertilize your containers after planting
Before using reused potting soil, mix it with fertilizer. Old potting soil naturally has a lower mineral and nutritional content. So, apply the right fertilizer to the soil before putting it back into your planters or containers.
It would be best to test the soil first before using it. Use a test kit to see the nutrients present in the soil. From there, you’ll know the right fertilizer to purchase.
Gardening experts usually advise using a slow-release fertilizer. Such fertilizers last throughout the entire growing season. Thus, you won’t have to reapply frequently. Applying fertilizer to old potting soil improves its quality and boosts healthy plant growth.
- Mix old potting soil with new potting soil and compost
Aside from mixing the potting soil with fertilizer, mix it with compost. Compost comprises organic matter that improves the soil texture and water retention properties.
This way, plants grown on the reused potting soil will take up moisture and nutrients pretty well. Alternatively, mix half of the old potting soil with new potting soil. Doing this makes the soil fit to support healthy plant growth.
- Water potting soil using rainwater
At times, salt may accumulate on the surface of the soil. You can easily recognize this problem as white crusting on the surface. A salt buildup on the ground usually prevents healthy plant growth.
Fortunately, you can avoid this problem using rainwater. Water the plants with rainwater since it contains a lower mineral content than tap water. Thus, rainwater won’t result in a buildup of salts in the long run.
What Should I Do with Used Potting Mix?
As a farmer, you have to gather materials and garden equipment at the start of every planting season. Doing this helps you obtain a healthy harvest at the end of the planting season. One of the main things you should prepare is the soil.
Plants strictly thrive on quality soil. If the planting soil does not have good water retention properties or sufficient nutrients, your plant won’t grow well. So, ensure you buy quality potting soil for both outdoor and your indoor garden. Alternatively, reuse old potting soil.
Reusing old potting soil enables you to save money in the long run. However, there are several things you need to do before using old potting soil. The main thing is to sterilize the potting soil to get rid of all harmful microorganisms and pathogens. Also, mix the old potting soil with fertilizer to boost its nutritional content.
Use compost as a substitute for peat moss and coir due to its light texture: You can use old potting soil as a substitute for peat moss and coir. Potting soil can make gardening soil lighter, hence improves the texture of the soil.
Consequently, potting soil enhances the water retention properties of the soil. So, you can always use old potting soil to make garden soil more fertile. Nevertheless, you have to ensure the potting soil is free from harmful microorganisms.
Boost soil nutrients:
Potting soil contains vermiculite and perlite. These ingredients improve the nutritional content of the soil. Through potting soil, your plants will receive sufficient nutrients. Subsequently, you’ll obtain a plentiful harvest at the end of the planting season.
Raised Bed Soil: Where Garden Soil and Potting Soil Combine
Raised garden beds often work best when they have midweight soil. They are temporary but not portable, like planting pots. So, midweight soil works perfectly for them.
One of the best ways to achieve midweight soil is to mix garden soil with potting soil. In the mixture, gardening soil should be five times more than the potting soil. However, evaluate your plant’s requirements first before mixing garden soil with potting soil.
The dilemma: Old potting soil vs. New potting soil
Are you still contemplating reusing your old potting soil? Using old potting soil for your next planting season is not such a bad idea. There are various techniques for making sure the soil is in good shape.
Sterilizing the soil is an excellent way to get rid of harmful microorganisms and pathogens in the soil. Soil sterilization incorporates exposing the soil to high temperatures. You can do this by placing the soil in the oven or exposing it to the sun for a few hours in the sun.
You can reuse old potting soil in:
- Flower beds: Gardeners can always use old potting soil in their flower beds. Flower beds often need light to medium soil mix. Thus, your flowers will significantly benefit from your potting soil.
- Raised garden beds: As mentioned earlier, raised grow beds thrive in a mixture of garden and potting soil. So, mix garden soil and old potting soil in a 5:1 ratio for best results.
- Fill holes: If you have any gaps in your yard, use old potting soil to fill them up. Gullies and holes in your yard collect rainwater and can tamper with the foundation of your house. If you have plants around the area, these holes can also damage them.
- Use it in your compost: Old potting soil can make a good compost ingredient. Potting soil is rich in vermiculite and perlite. Thus, it helps in boosting the water retention properties of the soil. In turn, you obtain healthy plants.
Is it okay to reuse potting soil?
Yes! At the end of the day, using old potting soil is a great way to cut down planting costs. Indisputably, purchasing new potting soil is expensive. So, consider reusing potting soil.
Even so, before using old potting soil weather for outdoor or indoor planting, ensure it is free from all harmful microorganisms and pathogens. Pasteurizing the soil is one of the best ways to prepare the soil for planting.