How to Extend the Life of Your Growing Media

How to Extend the Life of Your Growing Media

A good start comes from good soil. Whether growing in containers, raised beds, or in-ground, much of the success of your crop comes from how you feed and support your growing media. Soil isn’t naturally renewed in many greenhouses, forcing growers to strip their containers and overturn their growing media every season! When you grow with organic soil mixes, such as Purple Cow IndiCanja or Transplant Mix, you can easily build back your growing media with a handful of inputs.

Give your soil a second life and save money throughout the season!

Why should I build back my soil?

“Why should I renew vs replace my soil?” “If this soil worked well for me, wouldn’t it be easier to get rid of my existing soil and start fresh?” Replacing your growing media may be the best choice for some greenhouse growers, especially when those growers have a soil mix that they know will consistently work for their needs. However, replacing your entire growing media is a process that can become costly over time. Building back your soil, rather than replacing it, can be an easy way to save money while still growing high-quality crops. When you're growing plants that are picky with their nutritional needs, amending your soil also allows expert growers to craft the perfect nutritional regimen for their plants.

Not only can it be a more cost-effective option for some growers, but renewing your soil media also reduces waste! From reducing the plastic your soil is packaged in, to the actual disposal of your old soil, building back your growing media helps to reduce your impact on the planet.

How to extend your soil’s success

Building back your soil is an easy process when you’re using high-quality inputs, such as the Purple Cow Organics amendment line. There are three main categories of inputs that need to be replenished in your soil: organic matter, nutrients, and microbiology.

Organic matter

Organic matter’s main functions in soil are supporting nutrient retention, improving soil structure, and supplying carbon to soil organisms. Organic matter decomposes over time and is converted into consumable nutrients for plants, which means that it needs to be periodically replenished to maintain plant and soil health. Adding composted plant material, such as Activated Compost from Purple Cow Organics, replaces the organic matter consumed by your plants and can improve your overall soil quality. Click here to learn more about the role organic matter plays in your soil!


Nutrients (especially Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) are the first inputs that we typically replace in the soil because nutrient deficiencies are somewhat easy to see. Yellowing leaves, stunted growth, brown spots on foliage, there are many obvious signs when your soil needs a nutritional kick.

Conventional fertilizer focuses on NPK, which are the nutrients that plants consume in the greatest quantities. However, these fertilizers often don’t supply the secondary, micro, and trace nutrients that plants rely on for development. Organic amendments, such as our All-Purpose Fertilizer, BIOACTIVE™ Supercharger, and Activated Compost, are amazing inputs that provide the complete spectrum of nutrients needed for healthy growth.


Organic matter and nutrients are key elements of soil and plant health, but the true determining factor of health in your soil is microbiology. Healthy soil contains diverse broad-spectrum biology, with more organisms in a tablespoon of healthy soil than there are humans on Earth. Microbiology is responsible for so many functions in soil, from making nutrients and water available to plants, aerating soil, retaining water, and balancing drainage, and that’s just the beginning! Returning microbiology to your soil is easy, especially when you use a broad-spectrum liquid biological such as Purple Cow CX-1: Life in a Bottle. In addition to adding new microbiology, you can supply your existing soil biology with nutrients using our BIOACTIVE™ Supercharger! BIOACTIVE™ Supercharger is a microbial food source, carefully designed to provide nutrients that microbes and plants need to increase activity in the rhizosphere.

You can easily transform your existing soil by using a combination of essential inputs. Though we recommend using a range of inputs, there is no exact recipe for building back your soil. We recommend getting a soil test to determine what your existing soil composition is and then amending based on the needs of your crops.

Should I ever replace my soil?

Though amending your soil mix has many benefits, for some growers it’s just not the best option. If you’re mainly starting seeds and working with transplants, there isn’t much of an opportunity to refresh your soil media before your plants find their forever homes. For others, the soil’s original formula is perfect for their needs, and building it back might be too time-intensive to be worth the work.

There isn’t an exact recipe for building back your soil, as different plants and varieties pull different concentrations of nutrients out of the soil, so finding the right combination of inputs for your needs can be a difficult process. When you replace your soil, you can trust that the mix you know will have consistent results.

Even though you’re replacing your old soil media, there are still easy ways to give your soil a second life outside the greenhouse. Add some compost to replace nutrients, organic matter, and microbiology, and use this blend for houseplants, raised beds, and outdoor containers like flowerpots. You can also add soil directly to in-ground beds, and even use it to condition clay and sandy soils to create a loamier growing media.

Healthy soil is a key factor in plant health. In greenhouse spaces, your growing media should be designed to complete the circle of ideal growing conditions. Though some growers benefit by replacing media after each grow, extending the life of your soil mix is often more cost-effective than swapping out your soil for fresh media and can even reduce the carbon footprint of your greenhouse. Whether replacing or re-fertilizing, Purple Cow Organics has the solution to your soil!

Contact us here for questions on soil health, building back your growing media, and greenhouse care!