To Sterilize soil: Place lightly moist soil in a heat resistant container or pan which can be covered, in an oven set at 250 degrees. Allow the soil to reach 180 degrees for 30 minutes. ( you can check the temp with a meat thermometer)
To prevent odors and to ensure good heat penetration cover the container tightly with foil. Do not over heat the soil.
Sterilizing the soil helps prevent damping-off and other plant diseases.
Soilless mixes are great for for germination: made of half peat moss and half vermiculite. These work great for seed starting because they are generally free of diseases , weed seeds, and insects. They are easy to find and are light weight. They produce uniform plant growth.