The Bank On Seeds Grow Guide includes ratios for perlite, potting soil, and peat/peat moss. In our experience, it covers the widest range of our selected seeds and their soil requirements.
Can you reuse potting soil?
Yes, with some pointers to keep in mind:
- Don’t reuse soil from diseased plant you’re getting rid of - that soil may also be contaminated
- Don’t plant the same type of vegetables in the same soil the next year—it’s best to rotate your plants by type. I.e. don’t plant lettuce in a soil patch that had cabbages in it last year. This ensures pests or diseases common to a specific type won’t be able to continue breeding in the same conditions.
- As plants grow in the soil, the nutrients are used up over time. When you reuse the soil, add compost or fertilizer for additional nutrients.
Garden Soil (outside)
There are many ways to get good garden soil – here are two we recommend.
- Dig or plow the garden area, removing big rocks then turn the top layer of the turf or the sod over and wait for it to degrade over winter.
- Mulch the garden area with organic materials such as dead leaves and some newspaper or cardboard and wait for it to degrade over winter. This is to deter weeds and grass from growing while building good, rich soil with lots of decomposing organic matter. Most plants grow poorly in rocky or hard clay soil where roots can’t get air or space to grow.
If using other soil amendments, research the right amounts for your specific plants.
Compost, Fertilizer, and Mulch
Compost is decayed organic matter that breaks down into a nutrient rich fertilizer. You can make your own or easily buy it at any garden store, nursery, or online.
Fertilizer is material that is applied to soil to supply nutrients needed for plant growth. Most commercial fertilizers, whether liquid or solid, will have 3 numbers on them in the format of 1-1-1 representing N-P-K in percentage terms.
N stands for nitrogen and is mainly responsible for the growth of leaves on the plant.
P stands for phosphorus and helps with fruit and flower development as well as root growth.
K stands for potassium and helps the plant perform crucial functions such as the movement of water and nutrients in the plant’s cells.
Mulching just means a layer of material applied to the top of the soil. There’s organic and inorganic mulch. Both are good for retaining moisture, discouraging pests, regulating temperature, and deterring weeds but organic much will also enrich soil as it decomposes.
Common organic mulch includes grass clippings, leaves, wood chips and bark, newspaper, compost, cardboard, hay, and straw.
Inorganic mulch includes black plastic and geotextiles. When applying mulch, keep it 2-3 inches away from the plant stalk.
Compost tea for nutrients and as a natural fungicide
You will need finished compost (not manure) and non-chlorinated water. Mix the two and let it steep for 3-4 days or up to a week if you want a stronger concentrate. Stir the mixture a couple of times a day. Once done, strain the mixture through porous fabric (sack, old t-shirt etc.) into another container. Add the leftover solid bits on to the top of your soil and use the liquid as a fertilizer. Dilute the strained liquid into a 1:5 ratio to water and water your plants with nutrients!
To avoid common diseases and pests between plants of families spreading over generations, you can rotate your crops on a 1 -4-year cycle. This means you should not plant the same vegetables in the same spot year after year. Rotating crops can also benefit and enrich the soil for future plantings.
Here are the most common plant families – the plants in the same family should not be planted in the same spot year after year.
- Alliums: Onions, leeks, and garlic
- Brassicas: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, turnips, radishes, mustard greens, and collards
- Cucurbits: Squash, pumpkins, melons
- Legumes: Beans, peas, and soybeans
- Umbellifers: Carrots, parsnips, fennel, parsley, and dill
It takes some planning and detailed notes to achieve a successful crop rotation. Many people keep plant diaries to record yearly observations and include photos and diagrams.