I have a few conifer seedlings (Sequoia,Spruce and metasquoia) in some peat based soil but I've noticed that the soil gets very compact after a few waterings, would cactus mix be a better soil for seedlings?
Seedlings do best in a very well-aerated soil. I sow hardy conifer & deciduous seeds directly on top of the gritty mix in flats or wood boxes in late fall, scarifying when appropriate, then cover them with about 1/4" of Turface fines, and leave them out in the weather over winter. I also usually lay a piece of insect screen on top of the soil to act as a break (slow down the rain) so it doesn't splash soil/seeds out of the flat or expose the seeds and to make it more difficult for the critters to get at them. They usually sprout in the spring as soil temps pass 50*.
Screened Turface would be great, and you could use perlite with a little peat mixed in if you wanted to.
I have a question too..
I have some pine seeds that were from tree's of a lower elevation around here that don't see snow, and very few hard freezes. would they need the cold treatment like you do with yours?
Hi, JJ. ;-) Different species need different levels of cold stratification and even scarification (like our jackpine needs fire to promote germination, and fire plays an important part in the life cycle of the redwoods as well). Some seeds germinate only in the dark, others in the light, and still others need specific wave-lengths of light to germinate.
In the case of your trees, it doesn't take freezing temperatures to successfully vernalize seeds - most seeds can be cold-stratified/vernalized at temperatures of 45* and cooler.