Containers forum: Amending existing soil in containers

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Name: Lynn
KC, Missouri (Zone 6a)
chili
Apr 18, 2015 2:00 AM CST
I have a lot of containers full of soil from the last year or two and I'm wondering if I should add anything to it. Or should I replace it all (that would be quite an investment!). Perhaps work in some compost to the top half?
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Apr 18, 2015 2:07 AM CST
I just posted some remarks on this subject. I cant remember which forum so here it is again
Everyone has a different opinion on this subject. I remove the old roots from last years plantings and dig out about 3 or b4 inches of old soil. I mix this with new potting mix and compost and put that back in the planter. It has worked well for me.
Oh. I also heap the new added soil and let everything settle a week before planting.
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Apr 18, 2015 7:33 AM CST
I do the same and its worked for me as well Smiling
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Apr 18, 2015 7:43 AM CST
I also learned too late about filling large planters with plastic bottles and cans or peanuts. I filled several planters from the bottom.
I believe I bought at least 10 large bags of Miracle grow moisture control and the planters too a bag each. I put bottles and cans in a kitchen bag ,tie it and turn it upside down, and place it in the bottom of the planter I keep at least 6 to 8 inches for potting mix.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Apr 18, 2015 7:57 AM CST
I use empty plastic coffee cans with lids to take up space in big pots. The large pots get planted with annuals anyway, which normally don't need a lot of root space. As for revitalizing potting soil, I pull out plants at the end of the season and empty the soil into a large trash bag. That way I can stack the pots indoors to take up less room and store the bag of soil outside during the winter. In the spring, I mix the old potting soil with compost, perlite and worm castings and I'm good to go.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
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ge1836
Apr 18, 2015 8:16 AM CST
Thats a great idea Cindy.
This is a great thread Thanks chili
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Apr 18, 2015 8:20 AM CST
Getting older and lazy, I now pour manure tea through the containers to revive the soil.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Apr 18, 2015 8:49 AM CST
I might resort to that. The lifting and hauling is getting to me.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Apr 18, 2015 1:10 PM CST
That's a great idea, Caroline.
Name: Lynn
KC, Missouri (Zone 6a)
chili
Apr 18, 2015 1:19 PM CST
Great Ideas, Thanks! I usually just plunk in the new plants and throw some potting soil on top but I'm trying to do better :)

Name: Elfrieda
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida (Zone 10a)
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orchidgal
Apr 18, 2015 8:22 PM CST
I don't like styrafoam peanuts as they can make a mess if you have to pull a plant out of that pot, but you could put them in a mesh bag as you're just trying to fill up space in order not to use more potting soil than necessary. I also save the large styrafoam packing pieces that come with appliances, etc. Broken up into large chunks those work well. I sometimes also use some the lava rocks on the bottom. They're small, light weight chunks and a good size bag is reasonable to buy. I especially like these in my medium pots for cacti or plants that don't like the soil too damp as they provide good drainage. Plastic bottles, of course are great for huge pots. I put a piece of weed control cloth over all the drainage holes to prevent insects crawling in.

Like Jo Ann I remove a portion of the soil and replace with new potting mix. With my very, very large pots which have plants I hope I don't have to replace (like my Key Lime), I find I just need to add a little more mix every year.
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Paddy
Apr 19, 2015 1:15 AM CST
I'm also guilty of filling the whole container with expensive potting mix .
Nowadays I replace maybe 30% of the mix and blend in the new stuff . I add the old stuff to the compost bin . I used to use rocks but from now on I'll be switching over to plastic bottles .
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2015 8:16 PM CST
No kidding about the styrofoam peanuts, Elfie -- i hate those things in any form!!

I dump my planters (flower boxes, pots, whatever) out into my garden cart, chop everything up, mix in some new potting soil, and then put it back into the boxes and planters. Smiling
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Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
Birds Region: New York Irises Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lilies
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ge1836
Apr 20, 2015 2:03 AM CST
I remember when Bluestone packed plants in peanuts. I dreaded opening the orders.
I preferr the cans and bottles in a contractors bag. Contractors bags are heavier gauge plastic.
Name: Gigi
Florida (Zone 9a)
Plumerias Sempervivums Roses Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
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GigiPlumeria
Apr 26, 2015 11:20 AM CST
I just usually reuse the old dirt (weeds included) and put it in the bottom of the pot then the new soil is middle to top. I also try to alternate the use of old soil for a different type of plant. Example, my tomatoe soil from last year goes to the bottom pot of my annuals, or other plants. The dirt from my green onions including the weeds goes to the bottom pot of my other plants. Then the tomatoe and other veggie gets the fresh organic miracle grow soil from Costco.

My mom has a farm and she does alternate planting of crops each growing season. After the corn, then the sweet potatoes get planted, then could be another crop (peanuts or mung bean) then back to corn. She believes that By doing this, corn leaves nutrients that is good for sweet potatoe, sweet potatoe leaves nutrients that is good for peanuts or Mung bean and these in turn will leave nutrients that are good for corn (and the cycle continues).

So I try to use old soil for a different plant each time.
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[Last edited by GigiPlumeria - Apr 28, 2015 7:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Apr 28, 2015 6:22 PM CST

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Well thought out Gigi.
Name: Gigi
Florida (Zone 9a)
Plumerias Sempervivums Roses Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
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GigiPlumeria
Apr 28, 2015 7:36 PM CST
Thanks Lynn, this worked best for my Mom so I keep the tradition.
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite past time. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention." Plumeria Photos http://www.flickr.com/groups/calachuchi_plumeria_/ plant photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiplumeria/sets/
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Apr 28, 2015 7:38 PM CST

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I can see how it would work, and work well.

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