avc1984
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Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

My container cucumber plants recently succumbed to bacterial wilt. Can I use the same potting mix again next year? I would want to avoid using the same mix for cucumbers, but what about another crop? Perhaps spring beets?

CharlieBear
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Probably best not to reuse unless you solarize it or sterilize it in the oven, is the short answer. Generally potting soil is best thrown out into the compost bin or in the yard where you have a low spot you want to build up. In all fairness, some people do reuse the soil for other crops, but generally not when the crop last grown dies of something like wilt.

adery
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

Don't forget to also sterilize all gardening utensils and the pots!

imafan26
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

You should only reuse soil if the plants were healthy. I do not reuse potting soil in the pots because it is hard to figure out how to correct the fertilizer and pH without doing a soil test. I will take the soil to be sterilized and it will be mixed with new mix and fertilizer before being used again. Or, I will use the soil in the pot in the garden where it will have a larger volume of soil to mix with or somewhere in the yard that needs fill. Most of the time I use new soil in the pots for plants that will be in there for a long time. I use reused sterilized soil for some seeds and transplants.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

Well, the above advice is very good and really the best. But potting soil is terribly expensive and most of my pots are really big ones that take a lot of potting soil. So I have reused potting soil, even when the previous plant died. You can't throw away garden soil when something dies in it. Of course you should have pulled and disposed of the dying plants.

The choice is yours. Beet seeds are pretty cheap and you probably won't plant the whole package.

imafan26
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

Potting soil is expensive that is why I take it to be steam sterilized. I don't have really good results if I reuse the soil in the pots because I don't really know how to adjust the pH or correct the nutrients and that is why I recycle the potting soil into the garden. It does not hurt the garden since it is sterilized and when it is mixed with a large volume of soil, the nutrients and pH is easier to buffer than in a pot. I can reuse sterilized soil in the pots if it is mixed with fresh mix in equal volume. It brings the pH in line and I can use the same fertilizer regimen. I also don't have the issue of the decaying roots stealing nutrients or taking up space.

I have tried reusing potting soil but since I don't know how to adjust it, the plants grown in the reused soil alone have always been smaller. I guess I could have the used soil tested to work out a better way of correcting the nutrients and that might make it more cost effective in the long run.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ElizabethB
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

I do reuse potting soil for my patio plants - mostly green plants, some flowering perennials. I refurbish the soil every 2 years - remove the plants, toss the soil with well cured compost, add 1/3 fresh potting soil then replant.

I do not reuse soil from pots with diseased plants.

Yes potting soil can be expensive if you buy premium brands with fertilizer and water retention pellets.

I purchase the "plain Jane" store brand. I also look for broken bags. You can save at least 50%, if not more, depending on your negotiating skills.

Do clean and sterilize your pots before planting.

:D
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

If it truly was bacterial wilt, isn't that spread by the cucumber beetles and not present in the soil? If so then no matter where the op plants cucumbers they'll still have the same issue if the beetles aren't controlled. It's because of cucumber beetles that I plant my cucumbers late, when the beetle numbers have naturally decreased. If I plant before July the plants die before I get more than a couple cucumbers. A couple years ago I lost a cucumber plant before it had a chance to fruit. That fall I planted Asiatic lilies in the same pot. The lilies came up beautifully the next summer.

But I did think of a way to solarize the potting soil. Get a large clear plastic bag or large plastic tote and a piece of plexiglass large enough to cover the tote. Put the soil in that. Add some fresh manure poultry manure if you can find it. If you can't get that then add some bagged compost and peat moss. Water and mix well. Let it set in the sun to heat. Occasionally open the container and mix again, at least a couple times.

Usually when I reuse potting soil it's in the really large, bigger than 5 gallon, containers. The organic material really breaks down fast in large containers and has to be refreshed yearly. My refreshing is really just mixing more of my special blend potting mix and topping off the containers.

But it really is best to dump the used material in the yard and spread it around or dump it in the trash if you don't have a space outside for disposal. I don't dispute that. However if someone has the time and energy to tinker with experimentation then I offer my tips and results of my own experimentation. I make sure my experiments aren't my only source of that crop that season. Diseases from one species don't always affect other species.

But the diseased plant material should be disposed of by burning or placing it in the trash. That I won't experiment with.

Another way to sterilize the soil would be to pour a couple bottles of hydrogen peroxide over it. I haven't tried that. But unless the amount of soil is more than a few gallons it's really not worth the cost.

The only sure way to avoid insect borne disease is to pick and kill the insects. You have to start early in the season and be diligent in your removal program. Skip even a day and you might lose the war.

imafan26
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Re: Reusing Soil with Bacterial Wilt?

I don't usually buy a lot of potting soil. I sometimes buy MG potting soil but, I use so much of it and I need a fast draining mix so I usually make my own with peat moss and perlite. I have had no luck adding manures to pots. It just kills everything in the pot. Compost holds too much water and the same thing happens like manure. If I add any compost it is a couple of handfuls of vermicompost when I have it. It is the only thing that has not adversely affected the plants.

I usually recyle the soil in the tomatoes with each new plant. Some of my other perennial pots may end up going a couple of years but that is usually because I just don't get to it and not because I plan it that way. I just took a couple of bags to the garden to get sterilized.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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