How to Re-Amend Soil for Reuse

Rebecca Flad    Gardening

Over the last few months, we’ve had quite a few people asking how to go about reusing the same soil that they’ve been using. This is especially true for those growing within containers, as well as specifically for cannabis. So, we figured we’d make a post because we love to recycle our soil and use it over and over again too!

Why re-amend your soil for reuse?

re-amend soil at home
To start, if you’re growing a number of plants and continually transplant them to larger pots, you may find yourself with a giant stack of nearly nutrient-less soil sitting in those smaller pots.

Even for those simply growing veggies, we often go through a few pot sizes before placing them into the garden plot or final container it will call it’s forever home. We know we do, as we like to start seeds indoors early on and always take extra time to harden them off. By us, the wind gusts can reach up to 50 mph, so extra time hardening off is pretty much a necessity if you want your little guys to survive the strong winds.

Each time the pot size increases, we’re left with an empty pot and little nutrients left in it. Maybe some of you already tried to plant in the same pot only to discover nothing really grew well in them. For this reason, re-amending your soil to use over and over again is key in not only cutting waste but saving a butt-load of money too.

What about re-amending plots or raised beds?

For those looking to re-amend large garden plots or raised beds, the steps we explain below will work as well. It’s all about how much soil you have and how nutrient-rich you need it to be for your next crop to be planted and thrive.

Typically with plots and raised beds, you want to ensure you fully re-amend the soil at least three weeks prior to planting anything in it. This will allow time for the area to cook the nutrients into the soil.

If you’re looking to speed up the process, take a black tarp and place it over the area you re-amended. This will trap the heat in and allow for the newly amended soil to cook at a much faster rate than if just left open to natural conditions.

So, how do I re-amend my soil for reuse?

For those that are emptying small pots and containers, go grab a tarp to dump the soil on. Once you have all of the soil you’d like to re-amend dumped on to the tarp, it’s time to add the missing nutrients back into the soil.

For those re-amending a plot or raised bed, you do not need to move the dirt! Simply spread the missing ingredients on top of the area. Then lightly overturn the area to mix the amendments into the top six inches of soil or so. There is no need to go much deeper than that, as you will disturb microbes and organisms living down there. Therefore doing more harm than good.

Alright, now it’s time to add the goodies to your soil, wherever it may be, in a plot or on a

tarp. Depending on the amount of soil you are re-amending, the below inputs will vary.

For our example, we are going to break it all the way down to a single 15-gallon pot, as well as what it would look like re-amending three-yards of soil.

To start, go ahead and gather the following amendments in the below quantities:

Single 15-Gallon Pot

Roughly 3-Yards of Soil

½ to 1 Cup Neem Cake 30 to 40 Cups Neem Cake
½ to 1 Cup Crustacean Meal 30 to 40 Cups Crustacean Meal
½ to 1 Cup Kelp Meal 30 to 40 Cups Kelp Meal

OPTIONAL INPUTS:

½ to 1 Cup Gypsum 30 to 40 Cups Gypsum
⅓ to 1 Cup Bokashi 20 to 25 Cups Bokashi
½ to 1 Cup Alfalfa Meal 30 to 40 Cups Alfalfa Meal

Need to purchase these items? Check out Build-A-Soil for high-quality organic products here (affiliate link).

Now, please note that you may find yourself needing more or less of the above nutrients. Additionally, you may also find yourself needing to add even more amendments to the soil, such as the optional ones mentioned above.

Grower Tip: Pay attention to the plants you had in the soil prior to needing to re-amend. They will clue you in on what is missing in your soil and what needs to be added.

Vegetable & Herb Specifics:

While the above inputs will work just fine for your vegetable garden, you may use less of the inputs. This is due to vegetables being much less demanding than cannabis crops. Additionally, if you find yourself low on calcium, we highly recommend adding the full amount of gypsum to your soil.

Cannabis Specifics:

The above inputs can be followed exactly for cannabis growers, in pots or in raised beds. Please remember to pay attention to the plants you had in there previously. This will be key in determining if other amendments need to be added to your re-amended soil.

Mixing Everything Together

Yup, you guessed it! Now with all of the needed inputs added to the soil, simply grab a shovel or rake to mix everything together.

If you have your soil dumped on a tarp, this should be fairly simple. However, if you’re re-amending a bed or plot, remember not to over till the area. Additionally, do not dig below twelve inches (preferably six inches) to avoid disturbing the ecosystem just below your feet.

Finally, you want to let the soil cook for a few weeks prior to planting in it. This will ensure the nutrients begins to break down into the soil. And, that’s it! Your soil is officially chalked full of nutrients again and ready to use!

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