Baking soil?

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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Ummm... I've never heard of people baking their soil before. Is that a thing people actually do?

Saw this on Facebook in a gardening group.

baking.jpg
 

Ridgerunner

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I've heard of that though it's been years. Where I saw it was that if you use regular dirt to start seeds you bake it to kill anything in it. I think it was not so much insects or such, though it would do that, but more for mold spore that can cause damping off. As I recall that suggestion was to use your grill. not your oven. Don't catch it on fire. You don't want to burn up the organic matter in soil.
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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I've heard of that though it's been years. Where I saw it was that if you use regular dirt to start seeds you bake it to kill anything in it. I think it was not so much insects or such, though it would do that, but more for mold spore that can cause damping off. As I recall that suggestion was to use your grill. not your oven. Don't catch it on fire. You don't want to burn up the organic matter in soil.
Wouldn't it kill all the bacteria too? But maybe if you're just starting seeds in the soil you don't care.
 

digitS'

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Sterile starting mix ...

I tried using the oven, years ago. Serious mistake for domestic tranquility!

That may have been after that incident with an off-brand of potting soil from the hardware store. It nearly ruined my growing season about 30 years ago. I had to start all over in great haste (& fewer seeds) with a tried-and-true mix.

I thought it might smell like soil as it baked. Nope, it smelled more like sewage.

:oops: Steve
 

Dirtmechanic

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This is a good thread! I guess organic matter rotting smells like sewage pie. I always understood the idea was sterility for seeding. Boiling it over a fire in a metal bucket outside is the method I think might be more useful. Think kettle grill or firepit even.
 

flowerbug

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Wouldn't it kill all the bacteria too? But maybe if you're just starting seeds in the soil you don't care.
the question is often raised because of mold issues in starting mixes, some people have trouble with damping off. in my experience this is trouble with infected seeds, poor quality seeds, too much or too little water and then also temperature not being appropriate for the seeds.

i have not done a lot of seed starting indoors for some years now so perhaps i am just forgetting some bad experiences. :) not many though...

in growing things i find that some fungi will not harm a growing plant at all. it is the same for some worm species. they are not a problem to a healthy growing plant. they may hang out around the roots, but they are not doing damage. fungi and bacteria hang out in so many ways, they are in competition but some of them also do trades for various minerals and organic compounds and they also do this with plants/plant roots. so the idea to me is in a garden to have the widest diversity of creatures in the soil community so they can have all these exchanges going on. and then when the life cycle of the plant is getting towards the end the remains of the plant are also used to feed that soil community by burying it. some years ago i was reading up on woodland and perennial plants and the soil community they tend to have v.s. annuals and more gardening type soils where the soil community is disturbed more often. the fungi play a much bigger role in perennial gardens and you can have some pretty extensive networks of hyphae. compared to the bacteria diversity in an annual garden you will not see as extensive of a fungal network, but it can still be there and encouraged via no-till and low till practices. so far it seems to be working out well enough for me.

i do have issues of various kinds if i don't pay attention or miss that i have a plant dying back and it is being overgrown by the neighboring plants. white mold on certain beans, spots on pods from fungi of various kinds. it's pretty humid/foggy and a low spot here so a lot of things happen here that won't happen in a different climate. still with that all said i do get harvests, i do have food growing and i'm ok with how it goes. if something survives here and does well that means it is likely going to do well about anywhere at this temperature and climate along with the length of our season.

by far i lose a lot more seeds planted to critters than to fungi or soil problems here and that is even when planting in our clay outside in the variable weather.

old seed and unknown quality seed also happen because i do some trades and i've also had some of my own seeds fail because they were crosses that weren't well developed or the seeds themselves weren't viable (not all crosses are) or the seeds got too old. :( without any specific indication i can't always tell which factors dominated. i just replant with other seeds and move on. i try to be observant. like last year i had some seeds that didn't do well the first planting but they did fine the next time around. so that was likely a soil temperature issue.
 

digitS'

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It's this balance of life that I am hoping for.

Infected seed? That sparrow, that showed up on the deck and ate some of my tomato seed - what was he carrying? I don't want a sterile environment for the plant starts but, yes, the organisms are both cooperating and competing. My bet is that there is a great deal of competition but that with some of the life, the seedlings can both tolerate it as neighbors and some, gain benefits. Some of the activities, the seedlings will just shrug off because of their youthful vigor, others may well overwhelm them.

I'm a believer in the benefits (& risks) of fresh air and sunshine. That's part of the reason I'm happy to have the little backyard greenhouse. And, I'm happily willing (nearly ;)) to put up with the attention it requires during the spring.

I wish that there was some magic elixir that I could spray over the plants to establish them within a balance of life that would benefit them. Perhaps there is but I will treat any news on it with skepticism. However, until some great drama occurs in my kitchen, South Window or greenhouse - I will rely on experience. Dearly earned, I might claim but, really, I haven't had many problems with plant starts. Probably, there has been lots of dumb luck involved.

I'll say something about my limited experience with cuttings. Good Heavens. I'm injuring the plant! An open wound ... antiseptic, bandage, sterilized environment!! No, I have to allow for the cuttings' life processes ... I have used either sterile starting mix or 100% perlite with my cuttings (along with rooting hormone). Worked! In about 9 outta 10 experiments. And, that's what they amounted to, crude experiments that mostly turned out okay.

Steve
 

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