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In the Garden

Do you replace your potting soil every year in your flower pots?

Started 1274837804.697 in In the Garden | Last reply 1275001073.14 by AuntG

Do you dump the previous years potting soil from flower boxes each year?  I leave the soil in my big planters and just add a few inches of new potting soil.  However, in the window flower boxes and smaller planters, I dump and replace the soil each year.

Robin ....

Midlife is the time we begin “to listen with our ♥ heart.”

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glb6131274868461.68711072 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

I don't replace it every year.  I have a lot of big pots and the expense would be more than I can afford.   I add new potting soil as the level gets too low but that's it.    Why would you?

rosehill1274878065.683363 PostsRegistered 10/30/2007

I went to a container garding seminar a year ago at a very fancy nursery here. The lady who conducted the seminar is the one who puts together the glazed ceramic containers that the nursery sells to customers who do not want to do it themselves. They just come into the nursery and buy one already made. She creates designs that literally sell for hundreds of dollars in urns and pots that are breathtakingly beautiful!  

She said to change out the soiless potting mix every two years because the nutrients will be depleted by then. Of course, they want to sell you potting mix, but I believe what she says. Those potting mixes do not contain any soil and have plant food mixed in with the peat moss. There is only enough plant food for so long. She did mention that when you are making your pot, that it is a good idea to put a layer of gravel or washed stones in the bottom for better drainage.

I have two huge pale pink ceramic urns that must measure two and a half feet across. We drug them out of the garage just last week and I painstakingly used a trowl and took all the mix out of them and loaded it into a wheelbarrow. We used it to level out an area around our lamp post that we were re doing and it worked out great. It was put to good use and mixed in with the soil to lighten it up and give it good water retention.

I purchased large bags for around $13 of the Miracle Grow water retention variety mix which comes in a blue bag at Lowes. I filled those pink urns with new mix, as it had been in there for two years. I did not feel bad doing that, and felt that the old mix was put to good use. It is an added expense, though.

Last edited on 5/26/2010

Last edited on 5/26/2010

JYWilliams1274878513.4073157 PostsRegistered 10/7/2009Kentucky "The Blue Grass State"

No, but I do add to it.

glb6131274879167.811072 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

I feed my flowers regularly so I don't need to change potting soil evey 2 years. 

LeslieR1274879376.213316 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

no, but larger pots do get a topdressing of compost

Packaging is attractive, but never judge a book by it's cover - content is far more important.

JustJazzmom1274881361.84328129 PostsRegistered 11/12/2007My garden, of course!!

It might not need to be done every year, but defintitely every 2 years. The reason the soil needs to be changed as well as the pots cleaned with a mixture of bleach and water is to kill the fungal spores which are in the air, and then land in the soil. A large colony of fungus can kill off the young plants in the soil before they really get started growing.

 

☼The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. GBShaw☼

gardenman1274887540.09717095 PostsRegistered 6/30/2005Southern New Jersey

I get about three or four years out of my potting soil. I tend to leave it in the pots over winter and then in the spring I'll dump it into a cement mixing trough (a tough plastic container about two by three feet that's maybe eight inches deep) break it up and pull out any roots, debris or whatever and then reuse it. I don't really see a drop-off in performance. If you have any plants that prefer a more neutral or alkaline soil you may have to add lime to the soil if you reuse it for long as the peat (which is a large percentage of most soilless mixes) will make the soil more and more acidic over the years.

I should point out that I give my plants a little very dilute fertilizer (Miracle-Gro) with each watering so I'm not overly concerned about any nutirents in the soil. If you try to hold onto potting soil too long, it will eventually break down into mush and become a mess, but I typically will get three or four years of good use out of mine. It's a good thing as I use tons of it.

If you're worried about diseases, fungi, insects overwintering in the soil, etc. you can barbecue the soil before reusing it. Put the soil into a sturdy metal container and set it atop a roaring gas or charcoal barbecue and cook it for a while to kill off anything in it. (You'll find people who recommend doing it in your indoor oven. That's not a great idea. The smell is far from appetizing.)

Fly! Eagles! Fly!

Nellie B1274888699.622692 PostsRegistered 4/11/2009

I was wondering about this myself:  I like to buy basil plants and the ones I have this year are not growing like the ones I had last year and I was wondering whether it was the potting soil which I had saved from last year.  I even had my first set of plants (of this season) die!!

DebbieDD1274899738.6938109 PostsRegistered 10/18/2004

That makes little sense to me.  How would you change out the soil in your flower beds???  Sounds like they just want to sell more.... Just feed them regularly and add soil to replenish.

WSfan1274900523.582125 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

Exactly! Farmers don't change the soil in their fields, so why do we have to dump the soil in our containers? I can see adding compost to enrich it, but I don't replace all of it every year or even every other year.

mom of 71274904997.282083 PostsRegistered 4/10/2010

In the Fall I empty all of my flower pots out & put them in storage. When Spring arrives, I put fresh potting soil in each pot. I think that the soil gets depleted from the previous year and I like my new plants to have a healthy start.

Pearlbaby1274905168.216340 PostsRegistered 12/2/2009

I think if you mix some new to old it will revive soil.

JustJazzmom1274906137.3328129 PostsRegistered 11/12/2007My garden, of course!!

Never mind.

Last edited on 5/26/2010

Last edited on 5/26/2010

☼The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. GBShaw☼

mom of 71274912443.8732083 PostsRegistered 4/10/2010
On 5/26/2010 WSfan said:

Exactly! Farmers don't change the soil in their fields, so why do we have to dump the soil in our containers? I can see adding compost to enrich it, but I don't replace all of it every year or even every other year.

 But they do rotate their crops every year as different crops use up different nutrients. My husband takes soil samples in the Spring to find out the PH level of the soil in each different field and what nutrients will need to be added. Otherwise, the field will become depleted. Drainage is also very important.

glb6131274915778.41711072 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

For those who put in new potting soil, what do you do with the old? 

Chicagoan1274916840.242681 PostsRegistered 6/11/2008CHICAGOLAND

Speaking of farmers, I had a discussion with someone in regards to farmers rotating crop every few years.  I thought that every few years, farmers will leave a field barren for a year to replenish the nutrients and control pest in the soil or just grow grass and harvest for hay.  Is this ever practiced anymore, the person I was talking to said that farmers never leave land barren, they just rotate crop.  Does anyone know?

Robin ....

Midlife is the time we begin “to listen with our ♥ heart.”

RocketMom1274929274.482693 PostsRegistered 9/23/2007

Chicagoan,

This practice used to be called Set Aside and it was the government paying farmers not to grow a crop on the land a particular year to avoid an excess of a particular crop on the market and keep prices up for the farmers.  Don't know if it is still practiced, I would assume so, but it was done up until at least 10 years ago.  It also did give the soil a chance to replenish.

Rocket 

mom of 71274932456.552083 PostsRegistered 4/10/2010
On 5/26/2010 glb613 said:

For those who put in new potting soil, what do you do with the old? 

 I live in the country and just toss the old soil underneath the trees or near our fields.

kachina6241274935183.4616223 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004New Mexico
On 5/26/2010 RocketMom said:

Chicagoan,

This practice used to be called Set Aside and it was the government paying farmers not to grow a crop on the land a particular year to avoid an excess of a particular crop on the market and keep prices up for the farmers.  Don't know if it is still practiced, I would assume so, but it was done up until at least 10 years ago.  It also did give the soil a chance to replenish.

Rocket 

I know in far West Texas, in the area South of Lubbock, dry land farmers who raise cotton leave some land in its natural state which means it's covered with buffalo grass.  Many of them think boll wevils breed in those grasses so there are some strange, unexplained fires from time to time on the grasslands which by some coincidence also kills the wevils.

mom of 71274999491.962083 PostsRegistered 4/10/2010
On 5/26/2010 RocketMom said:

Chicagoan,

This practice used to be called Set Aside and it was the government paying farmers not to grow a crop on the land a particular year to avoid an excess of a particular crop on the market and keep prices up for the farmers. Don't know if it is still practiced, I would assume so, but it was done up until at least 10 years ago. It also did give the soil a chance to replenish.

Rocket

The Set Aside Program is used to prevent excess production of certain crops OR for the prevention of soil erosion. The crop can only be harvested once a year and cannot be sold for a profit.

My husband does mantain hay fields for a few years but, liquid fertilizer (manure) and other nutrients are top dressed to replace lost nutrients. Then the field is plowed under and replanted with a different crop. A barren field won't replenish itself. We have never had a field that didn't produce a crop as that would be a waste of money. Our farm needs to be productive as much as possible in order to pay our expenses and to keep our feed costs down.

AuntG1275001073.146342 PostsRegistered 1/31/2009Wisconsin

I just add new potting soil. On the other topic of leaving the land rest, I have a neighbor who doesn't put in a garden every seven years. It's a biblical practice she follows. Considering she has eight children, her food expenses must go up in the year with no garden.

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