Reusing soil

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baldmountain

Insane Grower
I'm getting tired of buying bags of Happy Frog and tossing the finished soil in my vegetable garden after harvesting the plants. I was wondering how people reuse soil after a grow finishes. I use 3 gallon pots so the soil is usually pretty much a root ball. Is it enough to break up the root ball into a large rubbermaid container and mix in a bag of worm castings and let it sit a while?
 
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TreeFarmerCharlie

ASSHOLE ON A GREEN BANNER
Staff member
I'm getting tired of buying bags of Happy Frog and tossing the finished soil in my vegetable garden after harvesting the plants. I was wondering how people reuse soil after a grow finishes. I use 3 gallon pots so the soil is usually pretty much a root ball. Is it enough to break up the root ball into a large rubbermaid container and mix in a bag of worm castings and let it sit a while?
I keep close to double the amount of soil I need so I can rotate it each grow. When I harvest I break up the root ball, remove the thicker roots and leave the thin ones in, then I moisten it to right around field capacity, and then it gets amended and covered in a tote to sit through the next grow cycle.
 
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H.A.F.

a.k.a. Rusty Nails
@baldmountain I think a key to reusing it effectively is for it to be alive - with or without the plants in it. From microbes and fungi to worms and predator mites. The thing about soil is that stuff wants to live in it. if you try and keep it sterile like coco you'll go nuts. If you have Happy Frog and you have no good bugs - the fungus gnats find a home. And they thrive in our plants environment, and then you're not a gardener so much as an insect manager.

All of this can come from a worm bin. If there are worms and stuff in the pots working the soil it's even better, but just adding fresh worm castings will get you there eventually. The castings will have worm eggs sack thing. each egg has a few worms in it. If you add no grown worms to a pot, but add fresh castings, by the end you'll have some little 1-2" worms and maybe larger.

You will not see 'rootbound' issues as quickly, and if you just keep a pot moist and the cover crop or mulch moist after harvest you can let them keep working the soil for a bit before dumping and reammending it. Your rootball after 2-3 weeks is mainly the larger roots. All the fine stuff rots and is processed by the life in the pot by then.
 
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