Answer: Wow--you've had your own garden for five years? That's great! And I bet it's a beautiful garden! It's great that you have chosen an experiment that has real meaning for you. <br><br>First of all, you probably know that it's best to use a sterile medium for seed-starting, because there are microorganisms in garden soil that can harm tender young seedlings. (The general name for such diseases is "damping off".) <br><br>I'm wondering why you want to use garden soil for starting your seedlings. You will probably have better, and more consistent results, if you use a commercial soilless seed-starting mix, since it will already be sterile and very light and well-drained.<br><br>That said, you should be able to sterilize your soil adequately. And since it's a sandy soil with lots of organic matter, it should have adequate drainage. To sterilize soil, (according to the book "Park's Success with Seeds", the classic book of seed starting!) bake the soil in a shallowpan at a temperature of 180F for 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature is right. Take note that this might create an unpleasant odor! That should sterilize your soil adequately for your experiment. Good luck!
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