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Jul 31, 2021 9:18 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Bumping this old thread a bit...

I'm considering starting a small container vegetable garden. What I'm seeing as a large expense is the potting soil mix, and replacing it each year would be cost prohibitive to me if I ended up with several pots and containers. I know there will be no pesticides used in my containers so chemical toxicity isn't a major concern in re-using the potting soil. What I am concerned about, though, is carrying over disease to the next season. Would a crop rotation on a micro-scale help with this? I could refresh each pot's soil each year...fertilizer, some added manure or compost, a bit of lime, etc.,.

I've thought about finding some large clear plastic bags to set the pots in and "solarize" them. For larger, rectangle containers wrapping in clear plastic and sealing. Anybody do this?
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Jul 31, 2021 9:35 PM CST
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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I have re-used all of my potting soil for almost 60 years. I've never had any problems that I know of. Right now I'm emptying old pots with dead plants. I remove the plants and save the soil.
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Jul 31, 2021 10:57 PM CST
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Karen Thumbs up

@Intheswamp I reuse potting soil. Container prep is key. I place screening inside the container over the drainage holes. Sometimes I cut a large piece of screen that fits the whole bottom. Sometimes I make individual patches for each hole. I use a waterproof bathroom caulk adhesive, make a larger circle around the drainage hole, lay the screen on it and press it in. Let it dry.

Make sure the container does not sit on bare ground. Less insects and tree roots. I usually use concrete patio squares. Easiest way to refresh soil...buy an inexpensive outdoor trash can...bring it near your container. I scoop out old soil to trash can, while intermittently sprinkling in new regular compost and manure compost. I will add some bone meal.

Then I stir that soil mixture. I refill the bottoms of my pots with pine cones, large pine nuggets, leaves, old broken branch pieces. Put the soil mixture back in. I throw in 2 or 3 nightcrawlers...NOT composting worms. Nightcrawlers are slower eaters. There is stuff on the bottom to eat and several times a year you can lightly mix in organic alfalfa pelleted horse feed. If you are not actively growing at the moment, a few fruit or vegetable scraps lightly buried for the worms. Do not let the empty pots dry out completely...worms like a little moisture. And I use appropriate fertilizer after planting. Worms really keep your soil from being worn out.

May your garden be a success!
One to take to heart....1 John 4 ..............................................Where there is smoke...there is fire...in most cases the smoke will kill you long before the fire consumes you. Beware of smoke screens! Freedom is not free and when those who have not paid the price or made the sacrifice...think that only they are right and entitled to speak...they bring us tryanny.
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Aug 1, 2021 6:23 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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I reuse potting soil too and use a similar method as Sharon Rose but much simplified. I dump soil from pots into a giant plastic tote with lid. Store it over the winter. Mix in some compost & maybe worm castings early spring. Then depending on what I'm going to use it for, I mix smaller batches with pumice, all-purpose fertilizer, coir or peat, or whatever suits the purpose.

If there have been any disease or pest issues with a particular potted plant, I toss that soil.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
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Aug 1, 2021 7:21 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
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@plantmanager , that's a pretty good statement of re-using the potting soil. I felt it would be ok, but wanted some input from others. I had two big old plastic pots from years ago sitting around. A couple of years ago I rounded up old pots with potting soil in them and combined it all. There was enough to fill those two old pots up. I stuck a couple of tomato seedlings I had excess of last year into the pots. I really didn't watch them closely and they didn't do well at all. This year the pots had ants in them so I flooded them out daily for about a week until they left. I then put a small handful of 13-13-13 and a small handful of lime in the pots and stirred it really good...pulling out weed roots and whatnot. I had some left-over pepper seedlings so I stuck a Craig's Grande in one pot and a Corbaci in the other. They're growing like gangbusters!!! Thumbs up This got me interested in trying container gardening a bit but then the question of re-using the potting soil popped into my mind. Thanks for your input!

@Altheabyanothername , thanks for your imput, too! Yes, I'm figuring on covering the drain holes. Thumbs up The old pots I mentioned above I put some weed barrier material in and it is working well. Let's it drain good but keeps the soil mix inside. The containers will be up on an old deck which will help with most bugs, but ants are a problem here...Argentine ants. Grumbling They are everywhere so know I'll be battling them as I've already had to do. D'Oh! It sounds like you do a semi-hugelkultur on a micro-level in your pots. Cool! I might have to try that! And the way you described how you process your used potting soil sounds about the way I had it figured. I have a large plastic cement mixing tray that is great for working with potting soil in so the "refreshing" shouldn't be too difficult. Thanks!

@NMoasis , the disease aspect is what has me wondering. Seems here in hot and humid south Alabama we are a petri dish for all kinds of things...fungus, bacteria, legged-critters, etc.,. That's why I'm thinking of keeping the soils specific to their original pots. Knowing what grew "where" the previous year I can do a weak form of crop rotation between the pots. I duh-no, maybe it'll help? Shrug! I'll definitely be doing similar to you in refreshing the soil! Thanks! Thumbs up

Thank you all, again, for the feedback. I feel much better now going forward with trying a few containers. I've got peppers growing already and I hope to be soon be planting some cucumbers in a big 17gal tub. We'll see how things go. Smiling
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Aug 2, 2021 6:36 AM CST
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all
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@Intheswamp This is a tip that a member here gave me for ridding potting soil of ants and some insects...might help with other soil problems. Lay a tarp out in a sunny part of the yard, and spread the potting soil very thin. When its not going to rain for awhile and temperatures over 90...especially on a silver tarp...the insects vacate.

The reason I glue the sreen down (sometimes two layers on the inside bottom and two layers on the outside) is to stop most insects.

Two other tricks for insects/ants. Use either (recycle) large old tiles or patio blocks to set your pot on. Before placing the pot on the tile/block you can sprinkle ant killer on it. Insecticide is not in your container or soil and it helps keep insects from entering the bottom.

The other place they come from is up the side. I have cut soil bags into 1 1/2 inch strips. Cutting both sides of the bag vertical to the writing yields the longest strip especially on a 2 cubic foot bag. Towards the bottom half of the container, stretching it slightly to get a tight fit. While trying to keep it flat either tie it, wrap it around inself or use an adhesive. Need a longer tie I just tie two strips together.



On that pastic strip smear vasoline. No insect can crawl over that into the pot. Many people recommend vaseline on the outside of containers for this purpose. I think this makes less of a mess on the container. If you have to move the container take the plastic off and you will not get the vaseline on yourself. Hopes this helps!

May this week be wonderful!
One to take to heart....1 John 4 ..............................................Where there is smoke...there is fire...in most cases the smoke will kill you long before the fire consumes you. Beware of smoke screens! Freedom is not free and when those who have not paid the price or made the sacrifice...think that only they are right and entitled to speak...they bring us tryanny.
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Aug 2, 2021 2:42 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
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Thanks for the tips, Sharon Rose. I'll have to try your bag-band and see if I can halt the ants' egress to the pots. I can pretty well run them out of empty piles of soil by flooding or doing as you've mentioned...scattering the soil out and letting the sun drive them away. Another thing that I've done when I've found them in bags is to tie the bag up tight and sit it in the sun, especially as hot as it's been lately...I had occasion to do that just the other day.<sigh> I really like the idea of setting the pots of tiles or what-have-you. I was trying to figure out some type of cement block with wood cross pieces to set the pots on. With the tiles I could simply set the pots on them after I've treated them and would have to worry with the cement blocks. Thanks for the idea!

I was thinking that on the drain holes I might go with screen against the hole with a layer of weedbarrier inside it against the dirt. Durable on the outside with finer screening inside. But, that weed barrier is tough stuff...I've got some in those big pots that have been there for 2-3 years now.

And thanks so much for the blessing thoughts. How so much we need them these days! May you have a wonderful week, too!!!
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Aug 3, 2021 1:55 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
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Altheabyanothername said:..
Two other tricks for insects/ants. Use either (recycle) large old tiles or patio blocks to set your pot on. Before placing the pot on the tile/block you can sprinkle ant killer on it. Insecticide is not in your container or soil and it helps keep insects from entering the bottom.
...

I finally got the tub fixed up and the cucumber seeds planted today. Here is a link to the cucumber thread I posted several photos to... https://garden.org/thread/view... Thanks for the tips!!!

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Aug 3, 2021 2:05 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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Ed, whatever you do, don't use Vaseline! In the summer it turns liquid and runs. I found this out attempting to grease the shepherds hook pole that held my hummer feeder to keep the ants from climbing the pole.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
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Aug 3, 2021 2:13 PM CST
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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@gardenfish that is true. So I should say apply/smear it on very thin. But it is also going to be on the removable plastic. You could also bend a little of the removable plastic up to make a little lip in case it runs.

Many blessings for a spectacular week!
One to take to heart....1 John 4 ..............................................Where there is smoke...there is fire...in most cases the smoke will kill you long before the fire consumes you. Beware of smoke screens! Freedom is not free and when those who have not paid the price or made the sacrifice...think that only they are right and entitled to speak...they bring us tryanny.
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Aug 3, 2021 2:21 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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Good idea to make that little lip. Boy, all that melted Vaseline in the yard was a mess! I went out and bought a special ant moat to attach to the hanger, works great as long as you remember to keep it filled with water.
I save soil, too, and on occasion dump the pots into my wheelbarrow, put in fresh compost and mix well, then refill the pots. All my pots and garden beds are thickly mulched, and so I have a lot of nightcrawlers in the beds, whenever I find one I plop it in the pot. I've done this for years. I even have some houseplants with nightcrawlers in them!
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Aug 3, 2021 2:24 PM CST
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all
Amaryllis Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Salvias Lilies Irises
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Thank You! I only thought of adding the lip after you posted!

May joy and kindness be at your door!
One to take to heart....1 John 4 ..............................................Where there is smoke...there is fire...in most cases the smoke will kill you long before the fire consumes you. Beware of smoke screens! Freedom is not free and when those who have not paid the price or made the sacrifice...think that only they are right and entitled to speak...they bring us tryanny.
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Aug 3, 2021 2:26 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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I'm hoping it will be, thanks! Hurray!
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Aug 4, 2021 11:57 AM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
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For now I'm using no Vaseline. Hopefully the toxic pad that the tub is sitting on will be a "no ants zone". Thumbs up
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Aug 4, 2021 1:51 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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Region: New Mexico Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers
I wonder if you could use the moat method as is commonly done to antproof pet food bowls.

Place the pot in a shallow bowl like a saucer. Put that in a larger saucer and fill the larger one with water. Ants won't cross the water to get at the pot (or pet food).

I can see that drainage downside... maybe raise the pot with something?
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
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Aug 5, 2021 3:11 AM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tomato Heads Salvias Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peppers
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I really like the ant moat idea. It works well for hummer feeders. I'm sure you can rig this up, Ed. You are a inventor can do kind of guy. Thumbs up Thumbs up
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Aug 5, 2021 8:20 AM CST
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I didn't catch this thread when it started but I split it along with all the replies off to it's own thread to avoid confusion with the 2018 thread. Any replies that belong with the old thread can be edited or deleted.
As stated at the top of every reply post in the pink section, "If you have a new question to ask, please do that right over here" and it's a link to start a new thread. This is only for this AAQ forum as it contains many questions from new members that often never return. Each new post to their thread goes to their email so replies should be for their original plant question. Thumbs up
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Aug 5, 2021 8:49 AM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Sorry about that. *Blush*
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Aug 5, 2021 9:10 AM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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No problem Ed, many miss that, especially since we all add to existing threads everywhere else! Green Grin! Thumbs up
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Aug 7, 2021 8:48 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
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We do tend to be a talkative crowd, don't we? Smiling

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