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How To Make Super Soil From Summer’s Hanging Baskets and Planters

If you want to keep your hanging and potted plants looking great year after year – you need to recharge that soil!

We are all guilty of it as some point. You walk out to your garage, back patio or porch in the middle of winter, and there they sit or hang. The brown, curled up remains of last year’s potted plants. The frost and freeze season is now upon us – and that means the end of the line for the hanging baskets and planters filled with Summer’s bounty of flowering annuals and vegetable plants. So instead of letting those sit around until next spring, or even worse, throwing them away – now is the time to recharge that dirt into super soil to reuse next year!

The soil in potted plants will lose most of its structure and nutrients throughout a growing season.

As plants start to fade – it’s time to think about making a potting soil compost pile!

Unlike garden soil, which can be recharged through cover crops and natural decaying plant matter – the soil in pots and hanging baskets have no chance at all to rebuild structure and vitality. So if you plan on reusing that soil in the same pot next year – plan on disappointing results.

So how do you recharge it? Make a potting soil compost pile!

Potting soil can be a big expense each spring – and by composting your old and tired dirt to re-energize it – you can reap huge savings next year. Each Spring, we make our own super soil potting mix using 4 parts of potted soil compost to 1 part new potting soil. Not only do we reduce our new potting soil purchases by 80% – the plants are healthier than ever!

Depending on your available space – you have several options to get a small compost pile built.

We also use our composted potting soil for starting our seedlings indoors in the early Spring – it gives plants a great start.

Good Potting Soil = Great Blooms!

You can add a lot of color to your landscape with potted plants – but make sure to re-energize that soil to get great results each year.

Create A Space In Your Garden:

If you have a little garden or flower bed area that becomes barren in the winter – start it right in the available space and make an over-winter pile.

The Garbage Can Method:

If space is limited – get yourself a big garbage can or two (depending on how many plants you have) – and make it right on your patio, garage or porch.
Start by gathering all of your pots and baskets – take a shovel or sharp tool to break and chop up the matted soil and spent plant material before adding to the pile or can.

Next – add what fall give us for free! Chopped leaves and fall grass clippings are a great addition – as are coffee grounds, apple peels, pumpkin rines and potato peels. Mix it all together and if your pile is dry – add a little water to make it moist.   You want to make sure to add those grass clipping or scraps along with the leaves – because they give back valuable nitrogen to the spent soil as they decay.

For the next month or so – keep adding those kitchen and garden scraps, making sure to mix it in as you go. The mixing process adds oxygen to the pile which helps to speed up the composting process. We usually stop adding to our “planter” compost pile near the end of November.  However, as weather permits – we will still turn the pile every few weeks or so to keep the compost process going. By late Spring – when we are ready to start potting up all of those planters and hanging baskets – we have a ready-made supply of super rich, super composted potting soil to use.

-Jim and Mary

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22 Comments on How To Make Super Soil From Summer’s Hanging Baskets and Planters

  1. I always dump my soil from my hanging baskets and containers in my raised beds. I leave a 4′ x 4′ space to do this. I add all my kitchen scraps and coffee grounds to it. Makes great planting soil and no moving or dumping needed. When I get ready to plant there, I just add some black cow and plant. Then I start a new spot.
    I am 67 and it works great for me.

  2. peggy a munro // March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm // Reply

    What kind of soil do I use for Naustratans hanging baskets
    in the ground they don’t need good soil

  3. Linda Boland // March 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm // Reply

    What do you do when ants get in the compost pile?

  4. 2 Quick questions: Do you need to drill holes into the garbage can for aeration? Do you cover the garbage can or leave it uncovered?

    @ Darlene, I have been composting right into my garden for 2 seasons now. The kitchen scrap (no meat) composts so fast! Maybe a couple weeks? I cover my compost with a lil bit of soil from around the garden and this seems to speed up the process. The best part? The soil is already in my garden! No moving or dumping needed. I am also kinda lazy :) half the time I don’t even have to turn the compost. I literally produce new, beautiful, rich dirt, right before my eyes! Love it!

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