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Sterilizing Soil

Save money and your plants from disease by growing in pathogen-free potting mix. 

Purchase and use a pasteurized potting mix to avoid introducing disease, weeds, and insect problems to houseplant and outdoor container gardens.

Some gardeners like to make their own mix and pasteurize the soil themselves.   This can be fun, but a smelly process.  So you may want to do this on the grill or a warm day when you can open your kitchen windows.  Simply place soil in a 3 to 4 inch deep pan and set in a preheated oven at 200 degrees.  Use a meat thermometer to measure the soil temperature

When the temperature reaches 160 degrees, turn off the oven and leave the soil inside with the door closed for another 30 minutes.

Simplify the process by using a medium-sized baking potato to measure soil temperature.  Place the potato in the middle of the soil to be pasteurized.  Once the potato is done so is your soil.

A bit more information:  Pasteurization removes most of the harmful organisms and weed seeds from the soil.  Sterilization kills everything, including good organisms.  When a pest moves into a sterile soil mix there are no good organisms left to potentially keep this pest in check.  Store pasteurized soil in a clean container with a lid.  Don’t mix treated and non-treated soil.  This will undo all your work.

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