*Getting Last Years Containers Ready for This Years Vegetables*
04 April 2015
If you had a great container garden last year, chances are good that your soil is now deficient in many nutrients required for healthy plants. If you intend to have a great garden this year, you must refresh container soil with nutrients. In traditional gardens and raised beds, nutrients are usually added based on the results of soil tests, but containers are a bit different.
My garden is standardized with a soil mix known as Mel's Mix. You can read more about it in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening Book, but essentially it's a mixture of 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss. Standardizing garden soil makes life easy when refreshing from season to season.
To start: dump container soil onto a tarp, remove the debris and break up old roots. Remove about 1/3 of the old soil and replace with fresh. Then fertilize. Add nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. You could add a general 10-10-10 type commercial fertilizer, but these products are non-organic and contain stuff you may not want. Also a 10-10-10 may be too much of a specific nutrient for specific plants.
I prefer to add specific ingredients. Bloodmeal will replace nitrogen, bonemeal will replace phosphorous and I like Jobe's Heirloom Tomato Food to replace potassium. These can all be found at Home Depot or Lowes but I've given Amazon links so you get an idea of prices and can read comments from other gardeners.
A 5-gallon bucket holds about 1 S.F. of soil. The bag will give you instructions for adding fertilizer, usually two tablespoons per S.F. However, I only add half, or 1 tablespoon per S.F., for now.
To this I also add garden lime and azomite. My area is humid and our gardens tend to get blossom end rot. One tablespoon of lime per S.F. is sufficient to ward off blossom end rot. Azomite is a rock dust that contains so many different minerals that are good for your veggies. One tablespoon of azomite per S.F. is one reason I see very high brix readings.
At this point containers are generally prepped. Set them aside and cover until ready to plant. When planting, add more fertilizer, usually 1 tablespoon, based on the needs of the specific plant (some need more nitrogen or more calcium, etc) and the instructions on the bag. Adding only the fertilizer that a specific plant needs reduces waste and potential garden problems.
Buying new container soil each season gets expensive. This system will save money, reduce garden problems and prep your containers for a high brix harvest.
Warning: Don't use soil from a container that had diseased plants. Dump diseased soil into a hot compost. Wash the container with bleach water and allow to dry in the sun before reusing the container. Add new soil.
Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening: http://www.amazon.com/Square-Foot-Gardening-Second-Revolutionary/dp/1591865484/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428015970&sr=8-1&keywords=square+foot+gardening
Miracle-Gro Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb. bag for $7.50: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Gro-100125-Natures-Care-Organic/dp/B00N6XE1GC/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1428014769&sr=8-5&keywords=bonemeal
Miracle-Gro Organic Blood Meal, 3lbs for $7: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Gro-100962-Organic-Choice-3-Pound/dp/B006059KUK/ref=pd_bxgy_lg_img_y
Azomite Rock Dust, 2lbs for $7: http://www.amazon.com/Root-Naturally-Azomite-Rock-Dust/dp/B00GOH6WVY/ref=pd_sim_lg_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0JJT4QZWT6WC7PYHWW6V
Jobe's Organic Vegetable & Tomato Granular Fertilizer 4lb Bag: http://www.amazon.com/Jobes-09026-Vegetable-Granular-Fertilizer/dp/B002YOJDAS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428015334&sr=8-1&keywords=Jobes+Organics+Heirloom+Tomato+FoodTooshieGalore
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