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Reusing/Storing/Preparing Soil for Large Container Garden

14 years ago

So I know this is being talked about on and off with some current threads, but our situation is a bit different. We had a MASSIVE container garden this season, and this was its first season. I'm talking over 30 containers, most of which were quite large tubs (20-40 gallons) and the rest all 10+ gallon containers. We had over 60 plants. However, it's finally getting near frost here and we need to wrap it up and call it a day and get things squared away for the winter I suppose. Everything did exceptionally well (Except our squashes eventually met a sad fate with SVB's, though according to our extension agents this is practically unavoidable here in hot sunny coastal NC) The climate is great for growing, HOWEVER, the reason we are container gardening in the first place, despite the fact that we have a nice large yard and did indeed want to grow tons of plants, is that we dont have soil here. We have sand, and sand, and.. more sand. That said, with such a large garden, we spent upwards of $400 on getting soil mixed and in place for our starting year, as the ground soil is pretty much useless. It really isn't going to be feasible for us to do this again next year. We know that we are obviously going to have to buy things to supplement the soil with, but keeping costs down is going to be of utmost importance. I realize this situation is not ideal and understand the issue with soil aeration and all that, but you make due with what you have to. So what is our best plan of action to prepare the soil for next spring? A lot of prior researching went into what and how to plant, unfortunately we just didn't think ahead to what to do with all of it now! It basically started out as a mix of potting soil, garden (prepackaged) soil (as I said, the containers were hugs and this was not in the least detrimental), mushroom compost, and a bit of blood and bone meal. The mixes we used were (hopefully and supposedly, if others were to be trusted) high quality mixes. Everything did fantastic this year (actually the sheer number and size of plants got a little out of hand; I dont think we'll be planting quite as many next year!). We will be growing mostly various types of tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squashes, beans, and peas.

So, what are our options? Like I said, I realize re-using isn't the best option, but we really do need to be able to use as much as possible again and supplement the rest with new nutrients/compost/whatever. Also, is it ok to just leave the soil sitting outside over the winter? Should it be covered? And should the containers be sterilized to be reused?

My other concern was that, though we didn't have much problem with diseases or blight, we did have the squash bugs and squash borer issues, and I was wondering if the old soil will be harboring the critters over the winter or what. Apparently theyre essentially unavoidable here, but I would like to start out without them!

Thank you so much for any help anyone can offer!

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