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Sterilising potting compost.

m0lsx

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Does any who adds potting compost, or similar, to their substrate mix sterilise it before use?

I was looking at some of the mixes used by members here & some mention potting compost. A few years ago a gardener was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease which it is thought he contracted via potting compost, due to a cut on his hand.
Potting compost contains all sorts of microorganisms, some of which are good for what gardeners want, but some are bad, even for gardens.
As a school boy, one of my favourite skives was sterilising the soil in the school greenhouse.
Looking online I found it was perfectly possible to sterilise the small quantities we need using a microwave oven, or by spreading some on a baking tray & heating it in a conventional oven.
 

MassExodus

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I used potting soil for awhile. It tended to attract mold when used exclusively, but mixed with jungle mix and eco earth it was fine. I never "sterylize" anything. I've never had any diseases, except a mild case of alcoholism. "Stan, Stan, please bring me a beer. I have a disease Stan!"-Randy, South Park.
Seriously though, potting soil isn't necesary for any sp. in this hobby. If you are skeptical of it, skip it.
 

m0lsx

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Premium Member
Compost is usually pretty stinky stuff...would you want to live on it???;)

It is not smelly stuff any more I sieved it, microwaved it. Then I mixed it with the poundland Coco Soil & Tropical substrate I got from The Range, to see if it would hold together better better than the just the Coco soil & Tropical substrate does. Which it seems to be.
 

Arachnoclown

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Sounds like alot of work to end up with something that's going to mold. Killing off micro organisms (sterilizing)in something like compost is asking for something invasive take over...you'll see.;)
Cant beat coco fiber...your not the first to try to recreate the wheel.
 

Tortoise Tom

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The potting soil is "infected" with all those micro-organisms because it is full of the nutrients and attachment points that those microorganisms need to survive and thrive. The soil creates a hospitable environment for those organisms. Within seconds of you finishing the sterilization process, re-infection of the media begins. My point is that sterilization is pointless.

Coco coir and things like orchid bark or cypress mulch inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. This is why they are recommended for substrates for our spiders and other pets.

There is another problem with bought-in-a-bag soil. You can't know what composted yard waste it is made of. Sterilizing it doesn't remove toxic poisons or poisonous plant matter. If it was made from someones lawn clippings that were treated with weed killers, insecticides or fungicides, or if it was made from oleander or azalea clippings, for example, then it could be toxic. The sellers don't intend for people to be housing their pets on the product. The product is intended to be outside on the ground or in a pot growing decorative plants.
 

m0lsx

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Premium Member
Cant beat coco fiber...your not the first to try to recreate the wheel.
I was not trying to recreate anything, just trying to improve the Coco fibre as it feels very loose & not at all like anything that can be burrowed in. But the mold is something that will not be changed by killing the existing bacteria off.

In a natural enviroment, top soil is, is simply the freshest compost which is created by leaves etc etc building up on a surface & then rotting down. So any ground dwelling T should be use to compost under their feet. However an enclosure is a different enviroment to the outside world that they come from. So I can see it throwing up problems that soil in the open would not get.

It is all a learning experience & I just mixed some up, to see what it would be like in a few days time. So nothing lost & nothing harmed.

Thanks for the input.
 

m0lsx

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Premium Member
Coco coir and things like orchid bark or cypress mulch inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. This is why they are recommended for substrates for our spiders and other pets..


Thanks, I use to grow Orchids as a teenager & had been wondering if Orchid Bark would be a usable solution to help water retention.
 

Arachnoclown

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I was not trying to recreate anything, just trying to improve the Coco fibre as it feels very loose & not at all like anything that can be burrowed in. But the mold is something that will not be changed by killing the existing bacteria off.

In a natural enviroment, top soil is, is simply the freshest compost which is created by leaves etc etc building up on a surface & then rotting down. So any ground dwelling T should be use to compost under their feet. However an enclosure is a different enviroment to the outside world that they come from. So I can see it throwing up problems that soil in the open would not get.

It is all a learning experience & I just mixed some up, to see what it would be like in a few days time. So nothing lost & nothing harmed.

Thanks for the input.
The problem is it's in a "natural environment "...you cant replicate it. Theres a million thing working together in the wild to allow a spider to thrive in its burrow. Youve done killed off all the beneficial microbes. You also have the fresh air factor...hard to replicate this in a terrarium.
I'm pushing around 500 spiders right now with over half of them in deep burrows. Coco fiber is by far the best substrate for burrowing spiders...even when kept moist. The spider makes it a burrow...not the soil. They line the borrow with silk. I've seen them burrow in the most loose material before without a problem. I thought you had a mature Phormictopus cancerides ??? Hes not going to burrow at this stage of his life anyways...
 

m0lsx

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I thought you had a mature Phormictopus cancerides ??? Hes not going to burrow at this stage of his life anyways...
I do, have the MM P cancerides, but I also have the Brachypelma albopilosum & I was simply mixing up some to see if it was any better than what I put in that enclosure. It was simply a trial, to see if it is any better. I have not used it any where & have now tipped it into the garden. It was simply a trial, to see what it worked like.

Earlier today I moved the Phormictopus cancerides to a lower enclosure with more floor space than the 30 X 30cm that he had. And I have put some plain coco fibre in there to a reasonable depth so he has no where to climb & I put some where to hide in there for him, even if he chooses not to use it, it at least it stops the surface being flat.
 

mrsoul1974

Well-Known Member
I used potting soil for awhile. It tended to attract mold when used exclusively, but mixed with jungle mix and eco earth it was fine. I never "sterylize" anything. I've never had any diseases, except a mild case of alcoholism. "Stan, Stan, please bring me a beer. I have a disease Stan!"-Randy, South Park.
Seriously though, potting soil isn't necesary for any sp. in this hobby. If you are skeptical of it, skip it.
Randy is great.
 

MassExodus

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3 Year Member
I was not trying to recreate anything, just trying to improve the Coco fibre as it feels very loose & not at all like anything that can be burrowed in. But the mold is something that will not be changed by killing the existing bacteria off.

In a natural enviroment, top soil is, is simply the freshest compost which is created by leaves etc etc building up on a surface & then rotting down. So any ground dwelling T should be use to compost under their feet. However an enclosure is a different enviroment to the outside world that they come from. So I can see it throwing up problems that soil in the open would not get.

It is all a learning experience & I just mixed some up, to see what it would be like in a few days time. So nothing lost & nothing harmed.

Thanks for the input.
I understand completey. I dislike cocofiber for the same reason. I still like excavator clay for dry spp.
 

Jess S

Well-Known Member
I've bought a bag of Top Soil (Westland is the make) from Asda (the Uk's Walmart). Asda have I believe stopped selling it, as it is one of their seasonal products but you can get it at Wickes. It's only about £3.50 for a big bag. I got lucky and had mine for £1.50 as it was end of range reduced.

I intend to use it when I get my T and will probably mix it with Coco fibre. I'm going to sieve it out to remove any stones, bits of wood etc first.

The research I've done (from people in the hobby who know what they're talking about) has led me to believe that topsoil can sometimes grow white mould when its first put in an enclosure, but it quickly runs its course and dies off when it runs out of 'food'. This sort of thing is handy to know in advance.
 

MassExodus

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1,000+ Post Club
3 Year Member
I've bought a bag of Top Soil (Westland is the make) from Asda (the Uk's Walmart). Asda have I believe stopped selling it, as it is one of their seasonal products but you can get it at Wickes. It's only about £3.50 for a big bag. I got lucky and had mine for £1.50 as it was end of range reduced.

I intend to use it when I get my T and will probably mix it with Coco fibre. I'm going to sieve it out to remove any stones, bits of wood etc first.

The research I've done (from people in the hobby who know what they're talking about) has led me to believe that topsoil can sometimes grow white mould when its first put in an enclosure, but it quickly runs its course and dies off when it runs out of 'food'. This sort of thing is handy to know in advance.
My old favorite is jungle mix. It actually has sticks and bark in it. Breathes well, looks like natural forest floor scooped up with a shovel. I love it, so do spiders. (They like rocks more than anything). But a guy got pissed at me once because he got splinters running his hands through it, after I recommended it. :D People are so frightened of sticks and rocks. Over cautious to a fault. In ten or so years, I've never found a spider impaled. Nor have any of mine fallen to a rocky death..:rolleyes:..take the base knowledge for what it is, but dont get too caught up in minutia and the absolutism crowd. It stifles free thinking.
 

menavodi

Well-Known Member
My old favorite is jungle mix. It actually has sticks and bark in it. Breathes well, looks like natural forest floor scooped up with a shovel. I love it, so do spiders. (They like rocks more than anything). But a guy got pissed at me once because he got splinters running his hands through it, after I recommended it. :D People are so frightened of sticks and rocks. Over cautious to a fault. In ten or so years, I've never found a spider impaled. Nor have any of mine fallen to a rocky death..:rolleyes:..take the base knowledge for what it is, but dont get too caught up in minutia and the absolutism crowd. It stifles free thinking.
I could not agree more: In nature our spiders have rocks and bark and all kinds of other things....they live with it and they live good. There is only one thing that is better in a terrarium, there are no enemies.
 

m0lsx

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Yesterday at the range, I looked at..



But ended up buying coconut terrain, but my first purchase & I still have more than half a bag left was Tropical, which is more dusty. At the moment my tanks are small & I am wanting to put more in them,but I do not want to take away floor space. But some suitable rounded stones for the enclosure, which I can easily find on the beach, which I will then sterilised in miltons before soaking it really well in clean water, is on my list.

The Range had some nice wood in there, but it was way to big for my tanks & cutting it up would ruin it, But I have also been thinking of some bark pieces instead of stones, laying on the floor.
 

Arachnoclown

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1,000+ Post Club
Premium Member
I've bought a bag of Top Soil (Westland is the make) from Asda (the Uk's Walmart). Asda have I believe stopped selling it, as it is one of their seasonal products but you can get it at Wickes. It's only about £3.50 for a big bag. I got lucky and had mine for £1.50 as it was end of range reduced.

I intend to use it when I get my T and will probably mix it with Coco fibre. I'm going to sieve it out to remove any stones, bits of wood etc first.

The research I've done (from people in the hobby who know what they're talking about) has led me to believe that topsoil can sometimes grow white mould when its first put in an enclosure, but it quickly runs its course and dies off when it runs out of 'food'. This sort of thing is handy to know in advance.
I love it..."The research I've done (from people in the hobby who know what they're talking about)"
So what are you doing here???;)
 

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