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STERILIZING SOIL

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TYRUSHAMADA Jul 18, 2012 03:51 AM

STRAWBERRIES SHOULD BE GROWN IN STERILE SOIL. COMMERCIAL GROWERS FUMIGATE THEIR SOIL WITH METHYL BROMIDE. HOME GARDENERS ARE NOT ABLE TO OBTAIN THIS CHEMICAL.

DOES ANYBODY HAVE AN ALTERNATE WAY OF FUMIGATING THE SOIL? OR EVEN BETTER DOES ANYBODY KNOW HOW I MAY OBTAIN METHYL BROMIDE?

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  1. DonShirer RE: TYRUSHAMADA Jul 18, 2012 03:42 PM

    I do not feel comfortable with fumigating soil at home. Also baking soil in the microwave is messy and takes too long. So I just buy sterilized seed starting soil. Strangely enough, the local nurseries do not carry it, but a Job Lot chain buys it from a local supplier. The price is comparable with ordinary planting mixes.

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      wyogal RE: TYRUSHAMADA Jul 18, 2012 03:45 PM

      Just buy a bag of soil. What quantity? Just a few pots or a whole garden?
      (no need to shout unless your caps lock key is broken)

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        tzurriz RE: TYRUSHAMADA Jul 18, 2012 04:06 PM

        We grow our strawberries in regular topsoil to which we add our own compost. My husband grew up on a berry farm, and when I showed your post to him, he laughed.

        He has never heard of growing strawberries in sterilized soil.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tzurriz
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          tzurriz RE: tzurriz Jul 18, 2012 07:23 PM

          He also says strawberries love SANDY soil, and that nothing will grow in sterile soil at all.

          1. re: tzurriz
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            Alan408 RE: tzurriz Jul 21, 2012 08:18 AM

            I have heard the term "sterilize" before. An uncle used to have greenhouses, growing carnations. He used to "sterilize" the beds with steam. A cousins in-laws used to grow strawberries, they used to cover the beds with black plastic and "sterilize" the beds with metam sodium. Regarding strawberries, "fumigate" is probably more correct, but the way the process was described, the soil was "sterile". The strawberry farmer was in Watsonville CA, their fields were close to a cemetary. He has been retired for ~5-10 years.

            For the OP, if you are commercial, contact your local UC extension or AG supply store?, if you are not commercial, I doubt if you could buy the chemicals.

            1. re: Alan408
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              tzurriz RE: Alan408 Jul 21, 2012 08:48 AM

              I spoke to a horticulturist about that. Hey, I was curious. He said that the soil only needs to be sterilized for commercial fields that are infected with a particular type of fungus, and that Methyl Bromide is very very nasty stuff that has been banned in most places at this point even for commercial agricultural uses. A home grower has absolutely no need for it.

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            LanaD RE: TYRUSHAMADA Aug 13, 2012 03:43 PM

            I'm late to this thread, but I always sterilize soil by tarping it with clear plastic and letting the summer sun bake it. Water the soil thoroughly so the top foot is wet, add compost if you have it and cover with clear plastic weighted down with tacks, bricks or rocks. In the heat of the South it only takes a month. In northern climates it takes longer. Check the ground periodically to make sure it's wet and water as needed. Check organic methods for soil sterilization for more info. This is supposed to leave some beneficial organisms once done, but adding compost always helps.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LanaD
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              TYRUSHAMADA RE: LanaD Aug 13, 2012 09:34 PM

              WHY DO YOU USE CLEAR PLASTIC. I THOUGHT BLACK PLASTIC WILL CREATE MORE HEAT.

              1. re: TYRUSHAMADA
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                LanaD RE: TYRUSHAMADA Aug 14, 2012 04:20 PM

                You want the sun to hit the soil through the clear plastic. Black plastic will block the light. This guy did some good testing and fact gathering.

                http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/sola...

                I did some reading and see that temps over 135 will kill beneficial nematodes. I wouldn't try for higher than that temp, but that's just me. Frankly, I'm not so sure you need sterile soil for strawberries in the garden. I can see that requirement in a container tho. I have a strawberry patch that's been productive for 8 years in the garden. Last year it began showing signs of leaf blight and this year the dreaded red stele. This means no more strawberries in that location for 10 years due to the red stele. Moral of the story is that they'll probably do fine without sterilizing the soil first, and eventually something might get them anyway. You won't be able to sterilize the soil after they're planted. Just practice good garden sanitation and remove dead/diseased leaves and fruit.

              2. re: LanaD
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                Dovid RE: LanaD Sep 5, 2012 06:04 PM

                I notice I get fewer weeds in the beds where I have done this. Apparently, the higher temperatures result in fewer viable weed seeds.

              3. raytamsgv RE: TYRUSHAMADA Aug 14, 2012 12:57 PM

                Look up "soil solarization" if you really want to sterilize your soil. Most home crops don't need to be sterilized unless you have a history of fungal problems.

                Please release the CAPS LOCK key. It makes you sound like you're yelling.

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