When we want to amortize this land and use it for the next crop we will see that, normally, the plants present deficiencies or pest problems, due to the fact that the soil in its use is squeezed to the maximum by the development of the plant, leaving the substrate without nutrients and with a compact structure, lack of the necessary lightness and sponginess. So many times this soil is left in cornered pots or is thrown away because it brings more problems than fruits.
In a few simple steps, we will see how to prepare the soil so that it can house a new crop, leaving it in many cases better than we found when we bought it.
Why is the soil degraded?
When we put a plant in a flowerpot we must assume that it will be cloistered in a finite space, where it will not be able to look for more food than the one present in the initial soil, that is why we use fertilizers and other products to make up for this lack of space. When the plant feeds the soil is degraded, creating an imbalance between nutrients and moisture present that makes it change texture and colour, we can easily see how by the effect of watering fertilizers and water leave salts that are clumping the soil, losing all its sponginess and finally becoming a block of compact soil.
The colour of the earth tells us about aeration and the materials that are present. Black earth indicates a high level of organic waste such as humus, reddish/yellowish tones are due to iron oxidation, violet tones are due to manganese oxidation, these would be the colours that indicate good aeration of the earth were colonies of fungi and bacteria that plants need can live. However, if we find greyish earth we will have to do something about it, this colour is indicating the lack of organic material in the mixture, and the little aeration of it, producing colonies of anaerobic bacteria that use manganese and iron present, which is basic for plants.
The microorganisms contained in the soil become like our intestinal flora, depending on which organisms are present the plants will be able to absorb certain nutrients, since these microorganisms are in symbiosis with the roots capturing the waste from the plants to feed and synthesize enzymes so that the plants can take advantage of the nutrients in the soil.
The excess of fertilizers is another of the problems that can occur in a soil used, to go adding fertilizers many times we are creating salt excesses, that soil is as little product as one that has never been thrown fertilizer ever, since the residual salts capture the ions of the nutrients that the plant needs creating more salts, which in turn disturb the roots of the plants in the absorption of water being adhered to them.
How do we return life to the earth?
In order to recover the soil the first thing will be to drain it well, so that the water drags all the salts that can contain the flowerpot, eliminated this way the excesses of nutrients, later we will remove it of the flowerpots and we will separate the bigger pieces of roots that would take too long in decomposing and would bother the growth of the new plants.
After taking care of the excess salts we have to deal with microscopic life, to make sure that it does not contain any viruses, anaerobic bacteria, nematodes or pathogenic fungi, we will pasteurize it. We will boil water and water the soil and then put it in bags, if possible black plastic bags, we will let them toast in the sun for 10-15 days, this way we ensure that there is no one there.
If we have a composting worm we can also throw away some remains of the old earth, as long as they do not contain fertilizers or insecticides that can damage the worms, there the earth would go through the necessary fermentation process.
Now that we have the clean land, the next thing is to bring it back to life, we can do it by adding organic matter such as earthworm humus, bat guano or seabirds, ashes etc, depending on the species that you want to grow. To get a good texture again we can add some material that improves aeration and drainage such as coconut fibre, perlite (expanded clay), perlite, vermiculite, etc.
As the last thing, through different products that are on the market, we will incorporate into the substrates a new population of bacteria and fungi so that the plants already find the earth in perfect condition for its development.