The Q&A Archives: Sterilizing Soil

Question: How do I sterilize the soil after digging up diseased Shasta daisies due to crown gall?

Answer: You can solarize your soil to kill soilbore diseases. Cultivate and remove the crop residues from the soil, rake it smooth, and water if it is dry. Dig a trench several inches deep around the bed and spread thin clear plastic over the top. Press the plastic into close contact with the soil, and seal the edges by filling the trench with soil. Leave in place for 2-3 months and then remove the plastic. Covering the soil with plastic in mid-summer can generate high enough temperatures in the top 6" to 12" inches of soil to kill many disease organisms. The bed should be ready for planting in the fall.

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