All Soil is Not Created Equal

Sterilized Seed Starting Potting Mix

My last blog post shared information about how to start your garden. It encouraged you to assess your available growing space, decide how much you want to harvest, decide what type of garden you want, to check your growing zone and then make seed purchase decisions.

Now that you have your seeds, it is time to focus on providing the best possible soil for your seeds to grow in. If you are starting seeds indoors before your last frost date, be sure to purchase seed starting potting mix. Several companies make this type of mix and it is usually available at plant nurseries or stores with a garden center department. The soil is very light and airy so that the seeds can easily break through to get light once they have germinated. I do not recommend that you bring soil from outside. It is too thick, heavy and likely has pests in it you would be bringing into your house.

Soil, even seed starting potting mix, likely has fungus gnat eggs in it. You will not be able to see the eggs. However, a few weeks after you plant your seeds you could see these tiny flying bugs in the soil and flying around the seedlings. Fungus gnats are harmful to your seedlings. Sometimes people find they have a fungus gnat infestation that is difficult to get rid of.

To help minimize the possibility of a fungus gnat infestation, you can sterilize the soil before you use it. One way to do that is to put the soil you are going to use in a large bowl and slowly pour boiling water in it. No need to oversaturate the soil. Pour enough boiling water in to make sure all the dirt gets moist and hot then stir it up well. Let it sit a while and go back and stir it a bit more. Once the soil is cool let it get almost dry before you put it in your seed starting cells.

Taking the time to prevent fungus gnats is much better than trying to treat an infestation later.

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