Soil and Compost forum→Efficient way to sterilise soil

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Mar 14, 2021 3:57 PM CST
I have had issues with either bacterial spot/speck or early blight (I was not able to determine which it was) or both on tomatoes. They have been grown in containers. I have about 100-150 galons of soil that could have been used to plant tomatoes and thus it could contain the bacteria/fungi. What would be the most efficient way to sterilize it?

I tried solar sterilisation but I think it likely causes more problems than it resolves. I am in central florida and soil sterilisation during summer is not really possible (unlike what some claim) due to the frequent rains unless one has some huge area to be used and glass on top (plastic simply gets ponds of water and/or water condensation on the bottom part of the plastic, both of which prevent the sun to efficiently warm the soil). At the same time, algea and who knows what develops in the still water on the plastic. Not speaking of ferral cats making this their excrement ground.

I also tried to put the soil in a container (20 gal tote such as from sterilite) and then pour in boiling water. This was not so bad but for thoe 20 gals i needed about 4 galons of water (to the dry soil), so it takes enormous amounts of time to boil all the water. Also, you basically create hot peat and need to find a way to remove the excess water from the soil.

Finally, I tried to put some soil in a bucket, wet it with water in and put it above fire. This I liked most because the soil was wet, it made sure that most of the soil did not experience temperatures above the boiling point. So i am thinking of buying some 20 gal steel bucket put some wood sticks on the bottom, pour in some 4 gals of water and then some burlap and on that the soil. This would be then sterilised by vapour. But this is huge amount of work (and plenty things to buy).

Does anyone have any better idea, or is this an overkill and I can use the possibly infected soil and only, say the top 5 inches use some uninfected soil? Chemical way also seems out of the question since chemicals for this purpose are only commercially available (and also i try to keep omri organic).

Thanks for suggestions.
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Mar 24, 2021 3:17 PM CST
My guess is you're talking about a significant amount of soil. For small batches, I put the soil in the oven and bake it. I like the solar option with building a cold frame with plastic glass top and then letting the sun bake the crap out of the soil.
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