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    How to Reuse Old Potting Soil

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    How to Reuse Old Potting Soil

    Spring is almost here, so it's time to start planning this year's garden. If you're like me, you have a bunch of planters full of potting soil from last year. So what should you do with it?

    While you may be inclined to toss it in the trash or dump it somewhere, why not save the potting soil for the future? Check out these steps on how to reuse old potting soil.

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    Step #1: Check for Diseases & Bugs

    Remember that potting soil should only be reused if the plant that grew in it was healthy. Any sick or diseased plants and potting soil should all be disposed of to ward off spreading the sickness to other plants. It's important to look out for any pests that could be hiding in the soil as well.

    Some gardeners choose to sterilize the bug-infested potting soil instead, which could be a good option if you can’t bring yourself to throw it out. Put the diseased potting soil into a garbage bag, tie it up, and let it sit out in the sun for a few months. This will help heat up the soil and kill off any bugs or diseases within the mixture.

    Step #2: Pull Out Plant Matter & Mulch

    You’ll want to get rid of any of the old plant matter that is in the soil. This includes roots, weeds, or other things that may be growing in the potting soil. Mulch is another item that is great during the growing season but not something you want in the bottom of the reused potting soil.

    Step #3: Screen the Soil

    Pour any old potting soil through a screen that will help break apart large clumps and rocks and separate any of the roots you may have overlooked. You may also find seeds that the old plant dropped into the soil, depending on how fine of a screen you use. This also helps you see exactly what is in the soil for possible problems.

    Don’t have a screen? Consider building your own soil sifter instead.

    Step #4: Choose How to Use It

    There are many different ways to reuse potting soil in the future. Choose the method that works best for you and your homestead!

    Use Old Soil Quickly

    If you are short on time, consider using the old potting soil quickly to help boost other areas of the homestead.

    Add to the Compost Pile

    If you only have a little bit of old potting soil, you can always add it to your compost pile to help make new compost for the spring. Add dead annuals to the compost as well to help boost the overall nutrients.

    Spread It on Existing Flower Beds

    You can also lightly spread the old potting soil onto in-ground flower beds around your home and property. While the soil itself won’t add any nutrients to the plants, it could help elevate the soil condition underneath. Just stay away from spreading the soil near the base of the plant.

    Prepare Old Soil for Future Planting

    Want to use the old potting soil next season? Consider these options that help create more potting soil for future planting.

    Woman Reusing Old Potting Soil

    Store It for Spring

    While the nutritional value of the soil was used up this year, you can add nutrition to the soil come spring. In the meantime, dump all of your old potting soil into a sealed container to keep it dry and critter-free this winter. 

    Some great ways to store your soil is in an old trash can with a tight-fitting lid. This not only is large enough to hold a ton of soil, but using a trash can with wheels will make it easier when planting new plants this spring.

    Storing old potting soil for spring is the best way to reuse the soil in the future when you need a quick fix right now.

    Perk It Up for Planting

    If you want to reuse the potting soil sooner rather than later, consider adding nutrients to the mixture for indoor planting. This is a great idea for those who want to start seeds indoors in the late winter and need some healthy potting soil. 

    The easiest way to revitalize your old potting soil is to mix it with a new bag of potting soil. Mix the old and the new potting soil at a 50/50 ratio to help revitalize the nutrients. Plants grown in this mixture would benefit from some water-soluble fertilizer in the future. 

    You can also add compost to your old potting soil by mixing three parts old potting soil with one part compost. Always check the pH levels of the potting soil before you start planting with the revitalized mixture.

    Test the soil to ensure that it is between 6.2-6.6 pH for best results. You can also add a slow-release fertilizer that will help feed the plants over time.

    Step #5: Give It a Break

    If you choose to revitalize the potting soil to use it sooner rather than later, it is important to give the soil some time to cure. Fill the newly mixed old potting soil and new elements together and store them in a dark and dry area. This helps the mix recharge so that it can be the most helpful when it comes to growing future plants.

    Reusing old potting soil is a great idea for a variety of reasons. Not only does it cut down on costs of buying bags of new potting soil every spring, but it also involves the natural cycle of life. Stretching out the use of old potting soil year after year is easy enough to do with a few helpful additives like compost or other organic materials. 

    Whether you choose to store the potting soil for the upcoming growing season or want to make fresh potting soil now, there is no reason to toss old potting soil into the trash. Reuse your potting soil instead!

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