Seed starting is one of my favorite things. I always start out so organized and planned out. There is so much hope and anticipation.
You also don’t need a lot to get started – some seeds, some pots, a good seed starting mix recipe and water. Simple.
I’ve written several posts in the past about seed starting. I’ve talked about using grow lights and about testing the seeds for viability. But today I want to talk about what you use to actually grow them in. A good seed starting mix recipe is a key ingredient to growing successful, strong and healthy plants from seed.
Components of a Good Seed Starting Mix
There are several different recipes that you can use to arrive at a good seed starting mix but most of them contain several of the same components.
Compost – We’re all familiar with this one. Compost is, most simply, organic matter that is decomposed and turned into fertilizer.
Vermiculite – This is a naturally occurring mineral. The purpose of adding vermiculite to a soil starting mixture is to help the soil retain water and allow for air circulation. (Buy it HERE – http://amzn.to/1nzQjXe )
Perlite – Perlite is a volcanic glass and is used in soil and seed starting mixes to prevent soil compaction. (Buy it HERE – http://amzn.to/1ixWoPp )
Peat Moss – This is the natural bi-product of decomposing plants. It is widely used in seed starting mix recipes but rapidly losing popularity due to the fact that it is a VERY SLOWLY renewable resource. Read more about this from Organic Gardening Magazine – http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/questioning-peat-moss?page=0,0 . It is used for it’s ability to retain moisture. (Buy it HERE – http://amzn.to/1hnaQuG )
Coir – This is a product of the coconut and is made from extracting a specific portion of the husk from the outer shell. It is used similarly to peat moss in a seed starting mix. It is a renewable resource that is much more environmentally friendly than peat moss. (Buy it HERE – http://amzn.to/1oItnG3 )
Lime – Often added to balance the PH of the seed starting mix. (Buy it HERE – http://amzn.to/1oItrFN )
Seed Starting Mix Recipes
So now you know the components, but you may be asking why? Why should I go to the trouble of making this myself? Well, first of all, it can be very cost effective. There is a huge mark-up on those little bags of seed starting mix that you buy at the store. Personally, I go through a TON of seed starting mix and it is so much more convenient and economically sensible to make it myself in large batches. Additionally, a lot of the stuff you buy at the store has additives that you don’t want or need in a good seed starting mix.
Here are a few recipes I’ve used and or read about:
4 parts compost
2 parts coir or peat moss
1 part vermiculite
1/2 part perlite
This one is nice because it uses compost for a natural nutrient boost but you have to be sure that you are using a pretty fine compost, otherwise you need sift out the large pieces.
3 parts peat moss or coir
1 part vermiculite
1/2 part perlite
1/4 tsp lime/gallon peat moss (don’t add if using coir)
This one is good because it doesn’t make you bother with sifting compost. This is the recipe that I use and find that it works well.
And that’s it! Pretty simple, right? What do you use to start your seeds? Do you make it yourself or do you buy it at the store? I’d love to hear more about your experiences.
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