When I dismantled the garden last year, it didn’t make sense to throw away the used potting soil. And the internet seemed to be pretty much in agreement that reusing potting soil wouldn’t be a problem so long as I didn’t plant tomatoes in the same soil next year.
I figured I’d do a little composting over the winter to replace whatever nutrients I could and add plant food during planting in the spring. In fact, that had kind of been happening already; whatever tomatoes that weren’t harvested in time ended up as fertilizer in other pots. So all the plant matter–stalks and roots and leaves–from the garden ended up in a Rubbermaid tub along with the soil in late November.
Fast-forward to spring. All the old soil had found its way into pots with new seeds, and I went out of town for a couple weeks. When I came home, seeds had sprouted Even in pots and planters that I hadn’t planted anything in yet. And in ones growing alongside different sprouts. Like, I knew for certain what carrot sprouts should look like and the little green things growing in the carrot bucket weren’t them.
I plucked the foreign sprouts from the otherwise occupied pots; curiosity led me to let them continue growing in one with last year’s soil but no new seeds (yet). I suspected they might be parsley since that had kept growing in the Rubbermaid compost bucket for a month.
I figured out what they were after about a week. Some were marigolds, others parsley, and others tomatoes. The first and the third I found interesting because the seed packages make it seem like they’re so finicky to grow.
While I can foresee weeding these interlopers from other planters for a good chunk of the growing season, seeing these sprouts grow from last year’s plants has actually been a good thing in terms of saving money. It means that harvesting seeds at the end of the year is both feasible and could very well mean not having to buy seeds again next spring. It’s a little thing, but I’m excited to move closer towards being self-sufficient.