Seed starting mix

Azjohn(8b)February 25, 2013

It would seem that Al's philosophy of using a coarse main ingredient for a planter mix would not be necessarily applicable to a mix one would use to start seeds. I have read several recommendations that use a combination of peat, vermiculite and perlite, but as I said it would seem inconsistent with the overall philosophy. Can anyone help me with this quandary?

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

You can start most vegetsble seeds in 5-1-1 or even gritty mix. I've done it and so have some others. I have also started tomato, pepper, broccoli and cucurbit seeds in a half and half mixture of turface and peat. I liked all those choices better than Jiffy Mix or the oft recommended mix of equal parts peat, vermiculite and perlite. What I've settled on as the best in my situation is 5-1-2 made with composted bark with the larger bark pieces screened out and two parts perlite. I do add CRF and dolomitic lime to my mix. I start seeds in the 1020 nursery flats that hold 36 little cells.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 8:06PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I, too, use a gritty mix to start my hot pepper seeds, squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes, plus citrus and a few others. Here's a pic of the first sowing of hot peppers this year - as you can see, this is a rather coarse mix and yet the peppers come up just fine :-)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:23PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I think a coarser seed starting medium works great. You have to water more to maintain moisture but I don't care too much about that. The roots are more tough and coarse which leads to less transplant damage. I cover with bark fines to help maintin moisture with the coarse stuff below. The roots don't have to deal with soggy conditions like you get when the entire medium is super fine.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions. I pre-soak and pre-start my seeds, but I am going to try and transfer them to a course mix.

The least coarse bark i have available is the HD Earthgro Decorative Groundcover Bark, which seems too course. I have tried running it through the vaccuum end of my leaf blower, but it doesn't make an appreciable difference. I welcome any suggestions, and thanks again.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I did two sowings of pepper seed this year.
For the first run, I used a gritty mix, pictured above. For the second run, however, I used a 5-1-1 of bark, perlite, and turface (no peat when dealing with seedlings indoors, as I don't want gnats). The seeds took longer to sprout than I expected, but they all came up just fine.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:21PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I like the idea of some kind of 511 version for starting seeds. Might try it this year for tomatoes. Usually have good luck with the basic MG or Jiffy Mix, but why not try to improve things. This year I might just start my curcubits outdoors in their final containers. Last year I started melons indoors in a peat based mix, and they just didn't set-out well at all. The roots seemed to get stuck in the peat and and they basically died. So as a last resort I started some watermelons right in the container outdoors after June 1, and they grew really fast and were at maturity within 90 days. Why start them indoors at all, heck, once they germinate the roots seem to grow 3" per day anyway and quickly fill any pot I would start them in. It takes them a few days longer to germinate outdoors, but no transplant shock is nice! The obsession is beginning!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:32PM
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zackey(GA 8b)

I have good luck with the Miracle Grow seed starter. I just wish they wouldn't put fertilizer in it!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:30PM
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