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Thread: Sterilizing seed flats with rubbing alcohol?

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    moonflower's Avatar
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    Sterilizing seed flats with rubbing alcohol?

    Hey... just about to start my second round of indoor planting but a few of my moonflowers wound up with mold in the last round. I'd like to sterilize the flat before I start the rest of my plants but I don't have any bleach lying around and it doesn't seem worth it to go buy a gallon to use a capful. In the college student ethic of let's-see-what-else-could-work-to-save-ten-cents, I do have a bottle of 70% isopropyl alcohol laying around somewhere, I know this would sterilize it but the question is whether or not it would leach into the peat pellets and kill the plants. I think rinsing would get rid of any traces... alcohol doesn't hold on to things too well... but I just want to make sure!

    thanks!
    "Seeds? Oh yeah... sometimes I forget they grow from those. I feel like they should hatch or something."

    ~a friend's observation of my CP's

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    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    It will all evaporate so use it if you want. I like to use fungicide, nevermind I just read you are on a budget. Some people use cinnamon.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    It takes approximately 20 minutes for alcohol to sterilize a nonporous surface if I recall correctly; keep that in mind. Simply wiping with alcohol is a good way to clean up sticky stuff, but it doesn't really kill anything. That alcohol swab at the doctor before you get a shot is mostly for show. You have to immerse something in alcohol - for an extended period of time - to sterilize it.
    Clint is right about it evaporating - set them out to dry when you're done and they'll come totally clean.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    See if you can get a bottle of bleach at the dollar store, if you have them in NY.

    Otherwise, hydrogen peroxide may work.

    A fungicide like Physan is what is most widely recommended to sterilize pots and flats.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

  5. #5
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    There's always good ol' boiling water, too. May not get everything totally sterile, but it's pretty much all I use and I've never had any trouble.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    The only problem with boiling water is that some of the cheaper thermoformed plastic pots and flats may not keep their shape.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    wow i dont have a container near large enough to put a seed flat in if i wished to boil it
    that makes no logic

  8. #8
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I fill my pots with soil before pouring boiling water through them. I don't pour it on in one big gush, either - only enough so that it's absorbed into the soil without standing. I do that a couple of times until the water draining from the bottom starts to run hot. It probably doesn't totally sterilize things, but it keeps the algae and carpet moss away long enough. Plants don't grow in naturally sterile soil anyways, so I figure if I can get the soil up to food-safe temperatures, that's good enough.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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