Waste not, Want Not.. Steaming your starting soil

I have a very large bag of potting soil that I did not use last year, but of course I had cut into it and needed just a bit out of it to finish my started plants. This bag had been moved from the greenhouse to the shed and that shed door had been openned.

Bringing it in to thaw out was no biggie but the fact that it was open meant that it had been exposed to all the bugs (and I normally adore my bugs) and even possable wind lifted seeds.

To be honest the seeds did not bother me, really pick them out and on a normal year I would have held out using that bag until I was doing the pots in the outside greenhouse, because it has bugs and so its very much alive and doing its thing.

However this is NOT a normal year, and while I have a good amount of soilless seed starting blend, I am in need of potting soil as I want to transfer over my sprouting pawpaw seeds into their next size up deep grow unit.

We do have curbside pickup.. but what we do not yet have is the soil shipment in at my local store, I called, they are waiting.. I have checked the website, and if I wanted to drive 45 min, I can order and get it.. but we are in lock down and soil is not a good enough reason for me to consider doing that..

BUT! I do not want to introduce buggy soil in my inhouse greenhouse, so I went looking, I have baked regular soil and I have never liked the end result.. hit my soil book and its said I would have better results if I steamed it.. hmm

Interesting.. now how would I steam larger amounts?? Got it.. why redo the wheel right.. could I use my steam juicer?


The answer is Hell’s yes you can.. I set it up, filled the top section that you normally put the fruit in put the lid on, checked it with my temp gage, adjudged my burner to control the amount/seed of the boil and it came up to the 180 and held like a dream for the full 30 min.. took it off, set the pot balanced on the handles into the big blue waterbath canner to allow it to have full access to air to cool down.

Check that carefully, do not think that because the top is fairly cool that that the middle is not still hot! I will need to do a few batches in order to do the whole amount needed but its something you can work around fairly easily into your day to get it all done.

Two points that I really liked is that by only aiming for 180, it means that your soil can come back quicker into being a living soil again, I am not sure how they know this, its one of those.. just because I read it does not make is so.. but each of the little sprouting pawpaw seedlings will come with their own soil which will help restart the steamed soil..

The other point was one I was quick to realize how little soil came out of the holes in the steamer and I will use that water to not waste any of it, it will be poured into my 5 gallon bucket that stays by the greenhouse and how little water that the soil took up. I expected it to “suck it up” but while its very nicely damp in a healthy way, its not wet..

I would never plant seeds in it and expect it to have enough moisture as is.. for sure you need to water it.

Have you baked the soil, did you use the oven, a friend says she does her’s in the slow cooker, I have seen folks do it in VERY small amounts in their pressure canners to create a medium for mushroom growing but I do not know anyone that has done it for potting soil and it would take way to much energy for value to me considering how small amount they recommend to place in it.. have you steamed soil?

I did have the thought that on the right day that you could use a solar cooker to get the job done, I have had some very cold days but crazy heat on the sun, if you boxes it up right and let it get full sun, I would love to play around and see if I could get the solar cooker to do the job?

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2 Responses to Waste not, Want Not.. Steaming your starting soil

  1. Ann says:

    If you do use the solar oven, please share your results. I had never thought of using a steamer, may have to look for one in our thrift stores once things finish opening up. Thank
    you for sharing!

    • I had wanted a steam juicer for so many years and I looked at every thrift store or farm sale.. I only saw one and it went at the farm sale for way out of my price range, I finally got one on sale at christmas time.. it was I think 80 dollars off and I have never regretted getting it.. I have used it in so many ways, yes, I love steaming my fruit juice, but I use the bottom pot for all my jams and jellies, I steam veggies instead of quick blanching, I cook my fresh corn in it, same with seafood if you want to steam it, I have even done fresh baby potato to perfection. but I am always pleased to find one more way to use it and this really did work so well and it was easy to do overall. Will keep you posted on the solar oven.

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