Reusing Soil

Living in a condo means bringing up soil for gardening can be a pain. And since all my gardening is done in containers, I don’t like to use chemical fertilizers, and usually plant edible plants, I’m supposed to change the soil each year as the nutrients are depleted by the end of the summer.

Worm composting has allowed me to revive my soil rather than replace it. At the end of the growing season I dump all the soil into clear plastic garbage bags and mix in worm compost with worms and usually some worm tea as well. Occassionally I’ll add bone meal and perlite to lighten the soil but I haven’t had enough time to compare results yet to recommend a mix.

It’s also a great time to clean out my bin. Since I’m removing so much compost from the bin, it’s a great time to re-bed the bin, empty the worm tea at the bottom of the bin, and give everything a good mix. If I notice some things haven’t broken down too well, I’ll usually remove them and add to the bag of soil, hoping the freezing and thawing outdoors will help break it down.

Since I add the worms with the compost and leave it outdoors for the winter… well… they don’t usually last the winter but I usually do this in September so they do spend at least a month or two living in the soil before it starts to freeze. As soon as its warm enough I’ll add more compost in the spring while my seedlings grown indoors until I’m ready to use the soil in my planters.

Reusing soil and adding compost does mean you sometimes get unexpected plants in your planters from seeds in the bin or from the previous year. Generally I’ll just let them grow but you may want to do a bit of weeding early on if you’re set on growing a particular plant.

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