Homemade Soil Sterilizers

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Soil sterilization is an important chore that every gardener should be doing. It consists of killing plant pathogens and weed seeds. All soils should go through this process especially if the soil is from the garden or from an old bag of potting soil. Make sure to only sterilize what is going to be needed in the near future or store sterilized soil in a tightly closed container. If this is not done, the soil will need to be re-sterilized to kill any contaminants.

Things You'll Need

  • Oven
  • Non-plastic containers such as clay pots, metal or glass pans 5 inches high
  • Garden or potting soil
  • Hand spade or shovel
  • 1 roll of aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer for each container used
  • Oven mitts
  • Resealable plastic bag, optional
  • Marker
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Collect containers that are going to be used for the soil sterilization. Fill containers with 4 inches of garden or potting soil. Smooth the surface of the soil so it is even in the containers.

  • Cover each container with aluminum foil. Crimp the edges of the foil all the way so a tight seal is formed.

  • Poke a meat thermometer through the foil into the soil in the center of the container.

  • Once the oven has reached 180 degrees, place containers in the oven.

  • Heat soil until it reaches 180 degrees. Once this temperature is reached, time the soil for 30 minutes.

  • Turn off the oven and open the door. Let containers completely cool before removing them from the oven.

  • Store soil in the containers until it's needed or remove it from the containers and place it in plastic, sealable bags that have been labeled.

Tips & Warnings

  • Heated soil gives off an odor, so do not remove the foil until it's ready to use.
  • Do not let soil go above 200 degrees. When this happens, plant toxins are released into the air and contaminate the soil.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images oven temperature control in red image by laurent dambies from Fotolia.com the form for an oven image by Leonid Nyshko from Fotolia.com aluminum foil image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com meat thermometer image by Kimberly Reinick from Fotolia.com pots pans and barn 1 image by Lise Powell from Fotolia.com timer image by Lombok from Fotolia.com tray of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies image by nextrecord from Fotolia.com marker image by Rich Johnson from Fotolia.com
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