Sunday, May 4, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

At the end of the gardening season last year I decided to try something a bit different. When it was time to empty the various pots and containers, I saved all the potting soil into a large garbage can. I would shake out the remains of any spent annuals and their roots, leaving behind the 'used' soil (or mixes) in the can. Much to my surprise, I had just about half of a 40 gallon container filled! To that, I added some 'spent' bark mulch, and a few shovels full of good compost and some grass clippings from our final cut. I mixed it all up so all the ingredients were well combined and added a quart of compost tea water. I mixed again, covered it, and left it for the rest of the fall and winter.

Today, I opened the container lid (as I had a few times on warmer days to mix it up a bit) to find wonderful dark soil. I added in 4 cups of bone meal and 2 cups of fish emulsion and gave it a final mix. What I now have is incredibly rich, revitalized potting soil to use in containers this year. There are still 'bits' of decomposing bark in the soil, so it will be light enough to drain well when I water.

By using my soil from last year, I'm saving myself over $100. in new purchases of potting mixes as well as helping the environment by not buying (and disposing of) large plastic bags of dirt!

This 'green' tip is one I will do year after year.


Elaine said...

Kenn, I want to shout this tip from the rooftops!! Thank you so much! I researched this very topic about 6 months ago on the Internet wanting to know what I could do with my 'old' soil and came up with nothing - no info - NADA! I will be doing this for now on because I don't want to throw away old and spent soil. This is truly a way to recycle and rejuvenate. Definitely a GOOD THING! Thank you so much for this wonderful tip!

Sharon in Ohio said...

Thanks so much for the info on recycling used potting soil. I have in the past cleaned out the old plant material and dumped it into some of my flower beds. I had heard that you should not do that, but have not had a problem. I'm planning on trying your idea in the future. Thanks again.

Sharon in Ohio

Kenn said...

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for stopping by House Blend. I'm glad the tip was useful. I had heard the same thing about used potting soil IF the plant was diseased in some way. (especially potted roses with black spot) The 'cooking' process helps to eliminate any organism that might be harmful. Let me know how it works out for you.
Get your hands dirty,