It’s come to this. Thanks to a perfect storm of insane late-season bulb purchases and a rather unseasonable late season freeze (usually I can do a bit of planting around Thanksgiving—but not when there’s frigid sleet), I find myself having to pot a few bulbs up to be stored in the root cellar or garage until they can be planted in the spring. This should work. If not, at least I tried.
So I’ll be buying and using potting soil soon, which isn’t unusual, since I do a lot of winter bulb forcing (as shown above) as well. But here’s the thing. I’ll probably want to reuse this mixture for summer containers after the bulbs are all either gone or safely in the warm ground. The wisdom has always been that one not only does not reuse potting soil, one actually sterilizes the empty pot once the soil has been discarded. Used potting soil is said to harbor all kinds of nastys, including disease pathogens and tiny unwelcome pests that can hurt any new plants you pot it with. But—of course—sustainability means we want to reuse as much of any gardening material as we can. There is an interesting article on this topic in a Fort Myers paper. (Not many Northeastern garden writers would be talking about potting soil now.)
I will probably reuse my potting soil, as I do every year when the container bulbs are done. And I have never sterilized a pot in my life. Nothing bad has happened yet, and I can’t stand the thought of tossing that expensive soil. I can buy a flat of plants more cheaply than I can buy some of the fancier big bags of organic potting soil.
What is your wisdom on this, knowledgeable Rant readers? I have long been reading and hearing all this about used potting soil and used pots, and I have pretty much ignored it (other than hosing out pots now and then—oh yeah, and regularly buying lots of new pots cause they’re pretty).