Soil Health in Container Gardens (Part 4 of 4)

What is the best kept secret in container gardening?  The experts know how to promote faster, more vigorous growth, and significantly reduce the chance of pests and diseases... ssssh... it all comes down to healthy soil.

Previously...

1. What does healthy soil mean?

2. Why do we need to maintain soil?

3. How can we promote health and extend soil life?

 

4. How often should container soil be changed?

 

If you start with a good quality, premium organic potting mix, then generally speaking, you should be able to get several growing seasons out of it.

This may mean that it's suitable for 1 year with 3-4 seasonal vegetable crops or up to 2 years if the same number of crops are spread out over this time.  If you are growing ornamental plants, flowers, or trees, you can probably expect soils to last much longer with the right care.

When growing intensive vegetable crops in container gardens, it's a good idea to completely or partially change over the soil from year to year.  Late winter is the perfect time to do this, so that the soil is ready for those vibrant spring crops.

 

Soil Change Over

  1. To start, take out any remaining spent plants, and remove all of the soil from your container. 
  2. Separate around half of the soil, as well as the bulk of the root mass, and send it to either the compost pile or worm farm.  
  3. Check that your container is in good order and that the drainage points are free from roots or other blockages (particularly relevant to self watering / wicking-bed gardens).
  4. Replace half the container volume with your preferred choice of growing media (Worm castings, composted matter, organic manures, Perlite and or organic potting mix) and blend through the reserved half of last seasons soil.
  5. Now is also a great time to add extra soil supplements such as organic slow-release fertilizer, or seaweed extract.
  6. Water-in the soil thoroughly while planting your new season crop!

For more on our preferred soil mixes for self watering, check out this link.