Sterilizing starting/planting mix

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by amelia, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    I've been starting seedlings for a couple of years now and find that the cost of sterilized commercial seed starter and planting mix can add up. I've seen various recipes for homemade mixes, but with all the warnings about using only sterilized stuff, I'm wondering how you get it that way. I tried sterilizing soil one time in the oven and won't do that again! I'm thinking maybe some kind of solar oven? I'd be grateful for any of your ideas.
     
  2. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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  3. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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  4. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Put your dirt in a container with holes on the bottom. Pour boiling water in it and saturate the soil. Let it drip out. When drained, put in containers that have been washed with bleach or sterilized with boiling water. You can plant seeds in damp soil, then cover so the moisture stays in the container. When you get seedlings, take off cover. Then water with diluted chamomile tea to avoid damping off.
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I never had much problem using a mix of mostly fine peat, vermiculite, and a small proportion of finished compost.
    Whenever I reused trays from the previous year, I would disinfect those.

    Note of caution: Microwaving peat trays can be a fire hazard. I realized this once after thinking I had sterilized a 6 x 8" peat tray for a few minutes by microwaving. Then I put it outside to cool, and the wind made it burst into flames. :eek:
     
  6. greenguy

    greenguy Member

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    To sterilize my starting mix I put my compost in a oven-safe pan and set it inside my wood stove with the pan close to door (sitting on a brick so it is not too close to the coals) and the fire towards the back. It usually take around 45 min. to reach 200 deg (about 1 gallon of compost. It will take far less time if you can only fit a small pan inside). You can check the temp with a meat thermo. The best part is no odor because it goes up the chimney.
     
  7. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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    Amelia, This is probably the third time I've responded to your question...but I keep getting new results and want to share them. My first mix was 2 pts. garden loam, to 1 part compost, 1 part coarse sand, one part sawdust.....the sawdust was the mistake. On the second batch...I omitted the sawdust, and things changed for the better....the third batch I took the same mix as I did for the 2nd, but sterilized it in the oven...guess what? there has been no noticeable difference between my sterilized soil and the same mix that wasn't sterilized! :p All the seeds in the 2nd and 3rd batches are germinating and doing just great. kathrynlmv
     
  8. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    I use what ever I can get my hands on, ususally some form of peat mix or mica, and mix it with potting soil. I never have damp off problems, my solution, add a couple of drops of common dish soap to the water,(about two drops to a liter/quart) I give them a light spray every day.