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I sometimes treat small amounts of soil with boiling water, a method often recommended for sowing fern spore.

Basically you fill a pot with soil, cover with 2-3 layers of kitchen paper to prevent the soil from being washed out of the pot, and pour boiling water through the soil. After treatment the pot is then put in a airtight box or zip-loc bag and allowed to cool before sowing.

I don't remember the recommended amount of water at the moment, I would guess at least three or four times the soil volume. I think it's more effective if the pot is standing in a deep saucer. This method doesn't sterilize the soil, but it kills pathogens in the top layer of the soil which can harm or overgrow seedlings or fern gametophytes.

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Umm, please don't cook the soil! There is no reason to sterlise it, just pasterize it like how John describes.

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There is sometimes good reason to sterilise soil. For instance, if you have peat which has moss spores and weed seeds in it. I usually restrict this practice for small plants, like utricularia soil though.

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I used to nuke my peat before use since all my batches seemed to come with those pesky mosses! I've stopped partly due to the fact that it's too much of a mission to do each time, and I find it's actually pointless, as eventually the moss grows anyway (albeit slower). I've also noticed that it reduces the quality, as mentioned above. There is definitely more slime mold present in pots with nuked media.

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It definitely will get rid of pest in the soil. I had great satisfaction nuking fungus gnat larvae which had invaded my pots! :devil:

As mobile already said, you don't need to 'cook' the soil the kill them.

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