There are many times in a gardener’s life when you may want to be able to use sterile soil and/or water, such as for hydroponic growing or with disease-sensitive cutting propagation. If you have a microwave or oven, you can easily do this at home with whatever soil substrate or water you may have. You can use these methods to sterilize fertilizer like compost or manure also. Getting the material to a microorganism-destroying 270° F for a certain minimum period of time is the general goal. A thermometer may be used to ensure temperature throughout but is not really necessary. Be sure to let water, fertilizer, or soil cool before using it with your plants.
Water: Bring water to a rolling boil and boil for at least 60 seconds to sterilize
And now you know how to sterilize your gardening water, soil, and fertilizers. No science degree needed! Happy growing my fellow gardening fiends!
Forcing spring bulbs indoors
Forced spring bulbs are a fantastic way to have the beauty and fragrance of spring all year long. Some bulbs are known for their ease of indoor forcing and are at a beginner’s level of difficulty. These bulbs include but are not limited to hyacinths, paperwhite daffodils, and tulips.
Please note: If you are using a pot for the soilless methods, the drainage holes will need to be plugged and sealed before you do anything. This can be accomplished by lining the inside of the bottom half of the pot with plastic, plugging the hole with a cork and sealing it with plumber’s putty, or another good method.
To begin, place 1-3 inches of your clean substrate (gravel, dirt, etc) into the bottom of your container. My rule of thumb is I like to give as much height for the roots as the bulb is tall. So, if the bulb is 2 inches tall, give it about 2 inches of substrate. Place your bulb, sprout up, root side down in the middle of the container.
If you are using soil, now cover the rest of the bulb(s) with soil, leaving the tip of the sprout poking out of the soil. Place it in bright light, water well, and do not water again until you see growth. Then, only water when the top inch of the soil is dry. Forced bulbs are susceptible to rot and over-watering. Once the flower is finished blooming, you can keep it growing and try to get it to bloom again, which may or may not happen.
If you are using gravel or other soil-less substrate, place enough water into the bottom of your container so that it touches some of the roots of the bulb, but the bulb is not resting in water. Most spring bulbs like to be in fairly bright light to grow. The bulb is very unlikely to bloom again after soil-less forcing, you can just throw it out when it is finished blooming.