Potting soil can get costly if you have to replace it every year. When you open a bag of potting soil, it’s moist and rich with nutrients, as evidenced when you look at the speckling and the way some elements shimmer in the light. Over time, the plants you’ve potted absorb these nutrients to grow bigger, stronger, and fuller. The question is, can you reuse potting soil to save on the cost of a new bag?
Yes and No
The answer is complicated. At first glance, you’ll note that, yes, you can reuse the potting soil you used last year to pot this year’s bulbs or other potted seeds. However, there are some cautions and procedures to consider in doing so. If you reuse the same potting soil for several years, you may find that your plants lack the same gusto they previously had. However, there is a remediation process that can help you make the potting soil last for several seasons.
Out with the Old
First, remove all the old plant matter from the previous year, including the roots. Using a trowel can help you dig out the last vestiges, as well as to aerate the soil. If it becomes compacted over time, the roots of the new bulbs won’t have room to grow and take hold. Also, this process allows you to make sure there are no unwanted infestations in the soil. If you find something so unsavory, be sure to dump the soil anyway. It’s worth it, when you consider the work it would take to remove the insects.
In with the New
To help replenish the potting soil with the nutrients taken out of it by the previous plants, simply add an amendment. These are made of organic blends of material, such as bone meal, feather meal, etc. another option is to use compost, assuming you have a compost pile. This, too, can create a vitamin and mineral rich environment for your new plants to grow.
Simple plant food can also be of use when you’re working to revitalize used potting soil. Just a bit of it, mixed into the rest of the soil, can add a great deal of nutrients that supplement everything you’ve already put in.
Don’t try to grow new plants in old potting soil that hasn’t been refreshed. You’ll find that they lack the beauty – or output – you could achieve with just a little extra care. Consider a bit of amendment, some plant food, and compost, as well as a good tilling of your pots, to make the environment conducive to brilliant new growth. Don’t believe it will make the difference? Test it against a pot without these additives, as well as a pot with new potting soil. You’ll see the difference in no time!