As the womb is, to a growing foetus, so is a potting soil to growing plant seeds.
An adequate potting soil will ultimately foster a good root system as well as the growth of plants, whereas bad potting soil will be the bane of new plants.
The right usage of potting soil necessitates the gardener to check that the potting soil is good enough to foster life in growing seeds.
This is why the life span of potting soil deserves a place of concern in matters related to the garden and gardening.
Potting soil also called miracle soil or potting mix is carefully prepared soil, made qualitative for the fostering of new plant growth.
Potting as the name implies, is usually prepared to be used in a plant pot either for plant growth indoors or in a nursery.
This is because the potting mix is carefully structured with all the necessary ingredients in adequate quantities, that makes for maximum plant nutrition and growth.
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The practice of using potting soil isn’t one that has stayed too long in the human race.
Even though people used to plant in pots, ages ago, they made use of normal garden soils and their plants survived based on the same probability garden soil plants had to survive.
As time went on, scientific advancements led to the discovery of a better way of raising plants in pots using certain soil mixtures in various percentages and this gave rise to potting soil.
Potting soil is popularly made out of peat or coconut coir. These two elements are used because of their very fertile nature and ability to ensure soil drainage.
Peat is a potting soil element that forms out of the sedimentation of plenty of dead organic matter in a region of the land known as peat land.
Peat is a combination of dead plants, dead animal matter, animal excretions, and other humus elements.
On the other hand, coconut coir is fibre extracted from the outer covering of coconut. It is rich in fibrous elements and when added to potting soil, helps for good water drainage.
Coconut coir is often used with peat or used alone for making potting soil.
The use of peat in potting soil is advantageous to the plant but disadvantageous to the surrounding as well as the peat land.
Harvesting peat from a pearl causes climate change due to the release of carbon dioxide from the dug-up peat. Peat does not also regenerate quickly, hence continuous removal might lead to quick destruction of the peat land, leaving no peats for the near future.
Due to these disadvantages of continual digging up of peat for making potting soil, gardeners have become burdened with the desire to learn better means of reusing potting soil, as well as storing it up for future Usage.
Hence the question, does Potting soil go bad and expire? This question is a result of needing to know how long potting soil lasts before going bad.
This article provides the answers you seek and explains all you need to know about good care and usage of your potting soil to ensure maximum growth of the plants.
Does Potting Soil Go Bad and Expire?
Potting soil does not go bad and expires so easily. It usually takes a long time under the right condition when it is not in use, to go bad.
As for expiration, potting soil does not expire quickly. This is because it can be rejuvenated and used anytime, as long as it still retains its moisture and soil content.
It is usually advised to check the manufacturer’s injunction before the usage of any potting soil, due to the fact that some manufacturers add certain elements in their potting soils for uniqueness and productivity, which shortens the number of years it can stay without going bad.
These manufacturers usually attach the estimated useful life on the label of these potting soils upon purchase.
How Do I Know If My Potting Soil Is Bad?
Potting soil does not go bad so easily. It usually takes a longer amount of years to go bad, unlike crops that have short survival spans.
Even though some potting soils are mixed with compost, they still have a good useful life duration. When potting soil eventually goes bad, it gives off the following symptoms listed below.
- An offensive odour
- Mold Growth
- Pests and disease infestation
Like Santa on Christmas eve, these signs are not difficult to detect. They point to the fact that the potting soil is bad and needs to be discarded or rejuvenated.
1. An offensive Odour
A bad potting soil develops an offensive odour that makes the air around the soil unbearable to breathe in.
This is usually because of the bacteria build on the soil that breaks down the carbohydrate content in the soil to amino acids by anaerobic processes. This offensive odour smell like that rotten egg and sometimes smells worse.
To eliminate the offensive odour caused by bad potting soil, it is recommended you spread the soil under the sun to dry. This kills the harmful bacteria but also ends up killing the useful bacteria in the soil.
Although you can replenish these dead useful microbes by reintroducing them to the potting soil.
2. Mold Growth
Mold growth on potting soil is a sign of fungal infection. Fungal infection is often caused by too much moisture content in the soil.
Molds appear on a potting soil that has excess moisture content and makes the potting soil unfit for the growth of plant roots.
The usage of potting soil with molds usually causes root rot in plants, hence, potting soil with molds should not be used for planting.
It should instead be properly treated with an antifungal herbicide or spread under the sun to eliminate molds.
If the mold growth on the soil is too much, the potting soil is no longer unfit for planting and cannot be revived.
The best thing to do at this point is to discard the soil and get a new potting mix.
3. Pest and Disease Infestation
Tiny pests like gnats and aphids are not found on healthy soil without some plants on it that they can feed on. When they begin to live and grow on your potting soil stored away somewhere you won’t use it until you’re ready to plant, then you should know that the potting soil has gone bad and needs to be rejuvenated or changed.
If you go ahead to plant in the pest and disease infested soil, you would have succeeded in giving the pests in the soil enough seeds to feed on.
How Do You Rejuvenate Old Potting Soil
Potting soil can last for a long time if kept properly and in the right condition. But, the longer the potting soil stays without being used, the more nutrients that is lost through evaporation and soil content degradation.
If you finally decide to use potting soil that has been stored away for a long time, or that was previously used, it is best you rejuvenate the soil. This is so that the soil quality is restored and the soil can foster the growth of new plants.
However, you have to note that when potting soil has gone too bad with molds and pests, it can no longer be rejuvenated, but needs to be discarded.
The following are ways you can rejuvenate potting soil for the growth of new plants:
- Add Coconut Coir to damp soil
- Add compost to the soil
- Sun dry
How Do You Store an Old Bag of Potting Soil?
Potting soil needs to be kept and stored properly to maintain the nutrient quality and prevent the potting soil from going bad.
Whether the potting soil has been used previously or is yet to be used, the following are the right ways to store potting soil:
- Place the bag of soil in an empty can and cover the lid properly. This is because the soil has not previously been opened or used.
In cases where the soil has been used in a former season, simply pour the soil in the container and store it away from moisture or heat. The location you choose to store the can now be filled with soil, should be in a cool and dry place.
- Before you store away used soil, ensure you dry it under the sun or by baking. This helps to kill every bacteria in the soil before it is stored away.
- Store the potting soil in a place where moisture can not get to it so quickly. This is because, when moisture gathers on your potting soil which is unused for a long time, molds begin to develop on it.
How Long Does Potting Soil Last?
Potting soil is made up of main peat or coconut coir. Potting soil does not usually have a lot of soil added to it. This is because new plants can not survive too much soil.
Potting soil can last for a long time if it is kept in the right conditions, but care should be taken in the use of potting soil made entirely of peat, as it can only last for two years.
Potting Soil is the best kind of soil for growing new plants. This is because it is made of nutrients in the right proportions needed by plants at different points of their growth.
Potting soil that is kept in the right conditions does not go bad, and cannot expire. They can usually last a long time even after use.
The farmer is expected to rejuvenate his plant potting soil before reusing it for planting. Rejuvenation of potting soil is so that the lost nutrients can be refixed into the soil.