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Curing the Gardening Phobia

Garden Boss Soil Minions

Want a repeat of your first successful year of container gardening? Here’s a 5-step way to feed your dreams for next year.

Well done! You had your first summer of flowers on your back patio, or front porch. It was refreshing to drive up and see them, and even more relaxing to eat breakfast on the back patio among the blooms.

In the early morning quiet, only your coffee and the birds kept you company. A rabbit sat motionless on the lawn. Nestled in among the potted flowers, you ate a small breakfast and softened into your morning meditation time.

When the Weather Turns

close up of white house, white clapboards, with 3 gray concrete steps leading up to front door, with 2 potted plants on the steps

So when the weather turned, it was sad to see the flowers go…but we’re goth gardeners…we honor the turn.

I like to think I do, but in fact, in the past I often didn’t. Maybe you didn’t either. I lost count of how many winters I safely watched from my warm kitchen the snow swirling outside—avoiding a sideways glance at the patio pots—filled with frozen dirt and little frozen sticks poking up through the cap of snow.

If this was your first success with container gardening, congratulations! You’ve had the first taste of pleasure from backyard life and beauty.

Embrace the Difficult Pleasure

So now it’s time for a slightly more difficult pleasure—a phrase the famed literary critic Harold Bloom coined. Instead of literature, let’s apply it to gardening.

So this task might be considered “difficult” not because it’s physically hard, but because the rewards are not quick. In fact, this task takes only about 45 minutes…and it sets you up for more backyard life and beauty next year.

It’s nothing more than washing out your pots—and re-using the soil in your compost pile.

The Scoop on Soil, Mix, and Dirt

Some soil experts might wince when I say that. They’re worried about “potting mix” and “potting soil.” These aren’t the same as garden-variety soil. Check here if you want to know what soil is: http://forces.si.edu/soils/02_01_00.html

2 large and 1 small patio plant containers, with metallic glaze; 1 large blue pot behind; all filled with purple, red, yellow and white flowers

Potting mixes and soil are sterilized before leaving the factory—not really a bad thing—the company is just trying not to pass along diseases to you. But, you guessed it, most of the good teensy minions are also killed.

So how can the container soil help your compost pile?

Compost needs the microbes in the soil to get the decay started. But if you have potting mix or potting soil—just sprinkle those lightly around your garden. Some experts might worry about the pine bark in some potting mixes. The reports are mixed on this; however, here are a couple of non-commercial links, if you’d like to check it out yourself.

https://www.hortmag.com/weekly-tips/tools-materials/old-potting-soil-what-to-do-with-it

Information on pine needles: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/myth-vs-reality-whats-truth-behind-some-common-gardening-practices

But other types of soil mixtures are fine for the compost pile.

Today’s Super-Easy Instructions

So, here are your super-easy instructions:

  1. Empty the pots into a portable container—to carry to the compost bin.
  2. Rinse out the pots with a hose.
  3. Wash them with warm soapy water.
  4. Store the pots in the shed, garage, or basement.

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Hand-to-heart! This won’t take longer than 1 hour. It’s an investment into next year’s happiness. Dream away!

Share this with your favorite reluctant gardener.

And if you are the reluctant one, what are your concerns about starting a compost pile? Share them below.

We're in this together! Let us know what you think!