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Cabin fever: cooking with....dirt?

How to pasteurize your dirt so you can use it again and again.Sift your dirt to get any trash, like old roots, out of it.
How to pasteurize your dirt so you can use it again and again.Sift your dirt to get any trash, like old roots, out of it.

Every spring is new year for planting. Which means a new year of buying soil right? Wrong! If you are like me, you still have dirt in your pots from last year. I have it because, living in apartments, doesn't leave a lot of free space to just dump used soil. But today I want to say “DON'T DUMP YOUR SOIL!!!!”

Sure your old soil may still have rotted roots and nasty fungus that you surely do not want your new babies in. So an easy way to save your dirt, and your money, is to pasteurize your dirt. You may be thinking, 'Pasteurize? Like they do to my milk?'. And yes, it's like what they do to your milk. Pasteurizing removes unwanted fungus and disease that may be growing in our old dirt. It is shockingly simple to do at home though and you should do it to any dirt that doesn't come straight out of a bag when you are germinating your seeds.

All you need to do is:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180º F. My dad does this in his smoker outside because it does have a strong smell. It is best if you do this on a warmer day so you can either open windows or sit outside. I would suggest doing it early in the day when no one is home and as soon as you finish go do some errands.
  2. Place soil in an oven friendly container. I suggest the aluminum ones you get for your Thanksgiving turkey that you throw away.
  3. Cover with some foil and put in the oven till the soil reaches 180º F, about 30 minutes, and then let it cook for 30 minutes.

The whole process should take about an hour. Let it sit and cool for at least a day and then you are ready to plant. You still have about two weeks before plants like, tomatoes, broccoli, turnips, and hollyhocks need to be planted. Check the back of your seed packets to see how long before the last frost you need to plant them. Happy planting!!

LADIES, do not touch any dirt without gloves on! It is very important that you always wear gloves while doing any gardening, especially when you are touching the dirt. You can get something call Toxoplasmosis and cause birth defects. They say not to do it while you're pregnant but I have yet to see anyone say how long it can stay in your system. So if you are planning to get pregnant ever, wear gloves!

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