How to construct your own soil steriliser

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Growing plants from seed often involves planting them in the soil as you find it, watering them and hoping for the best. This is because the soil may harbour diseases, fungi, pests and bacteria. Confronted with that possibility, you can sterilise the soil to kill all unwanted guests and give the seeds more than a fighting chance. If you do a lot of gardening, build a steriliser to clean large quantities of soil at once.

Cut the top off the drum along the inside edge of the lid. Use a power saw with a metal-cutting blade.

Drill 30 holes in the lid with a 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) drill bit.

Place the drum on two breeze blocks and then put two blocks inside the drum. Add water to the drum until the blocks inside are covered.

Place the lid that you removed, down in the drum until it rests on top of the blocks.

Cut a piece of wire mesh into a circle so that it just fits inside the drum. The mesh lies on the lid with the holes in it. This will keep soil from slipping through the holes when the steriliser is filled.

Lay a fire below the drum, in between the blocks.

Fill the drum with the soil to be sterilised. The water is heated by the fire and the heat sterilises the soil. Cover the drum with a spare lid, roofing tin, or plywood. Heat the soil for 30 minutes.

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