Newbie needs to know your recipe for seed starting soil

socalgardengalJanuary 31, 2013

Hello, I'm fairly new to growing seeds(2 months) and I buy Miracle grow seed starting soil but it is getting expensive. $7 a bag. Can anyone out there tell me their best homemade mix recipes please??? Thank you for your help :)

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Good luck for your growing. I am also starting with same seed and waiting for suggestion for mix recipes which will be efficient for growing.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:06AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Here are previous discussions of this question that will help answer your question.

Then there are the FAQs here and the one titled How to get started discusses mixes to use.

There are any number of seed starting mixes available out there that are already pH balanced and ideal for water retention/drainage - those are both serious problems when trying to make your own. The particular one you mention is seldom recommended as it is costly and contains fertilizers added and they are not needed and can harm young seedlings. IMO plain old Jiffy Mix at $3-4 a bag is much better then the stuff you are using.

The best soil-less mix (never use one with "soil" in the name) and that is commonly recommended is ProMix BX. But some have trouble finding it except online.

The real clue to controlling costs when starting large numbers of seeds is using very small containers with only the minimal amount of germination mix in it. Then once germinated you transplant into larger containers with a standard (less expensive) growing mix.

For example, 1 72 cell flat will germinate 72 plants with less than 6 cups of mix, 1 plug flat or germination tray will germinate 250 plants with even less mix, 1 small yogurt cup or a 3oz. Dixie cup can germinate 20-25 plants when only 1/2 full of mix, and a plastic butter container can do 50, etc. So re-think your containers and how much mix you are putting in them to reduce costs.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:53AM
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This is a moving target,as is most aspects of growing plants. Right now I am experimenting using my regular commercial nursery mix I buy by the yard from a landscape supply. For vegetable seeds I use as is, in salvaged sixpack containers or root training flats. I am using these containers to avoid transplanting bare root which sets back the growth by about two weeks. With these containers, you can wait until well rooted and transplant without any root disturbance and avoid the check in the growth. For the ornamental plants using very small seeds, I am sifting out the volcanic rock component. Next year I may try something else, is any system perfect? Al

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 10:07AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good point Al, no there sure isn't any perfect system. Just some that are much more successful than others. :)

One issue however is the fibrous feeder root trigger that comes from bare root transplanting for many plants. Sure it sets the plant back a bit but that "set-back" can be vital to long term plant health.

Skipping that transplanting step can often result in plants that appear well-rooted but they are tap and water roots only - not feeder roots. So when moved to the garden/final growing spot the now much larger plant is set-back much longer waiting for those roots to develop to support all the top growth.

A bare root young, 1 set of true leaves seedling will trigger and recover much more quickly than a plant with several sets of true leaves.

Just something to consider.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:06PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

It depends on what I am trying to grow. Robust veggie seeds just go in sifted compost/pumice mix. I always have more than enough veggie seed and rarely lose anything to damping anyway. Trees and shrubs that will take a long time to germinate go in a layered pot with sifted compost/ pumice at the bottom and sifted pumice at the top. Thats so the seed can sit in the pumice for a long time and not worry about rot, but there is still a little nutrition at the bottom once sprouted. Cacti, succulents, and anything that likes super drainage goes in straight sifted pumice.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Hi everyone,I have been starting plants from seed for 45+ years.If there is an inexpensive way to do something I do it.Dave touched on something important. Use small found containers that food comes in.I can start my main crop of tomatoes in a short cottage cheese container.Cream cheese or dip containers are great for pelleted petunias.I put my regular growing on soil in & cover with a thin layer of the starter.Dampen well with turkey baster & sow seeds like tomatoes carefully with dampened toothpick.Same for pellets.Seedlings do not languish with this method like they do in a soiless mix. This method is covered in Peter Thompson's book CREATIVE PROPAGATION.I have done this before I got his book.If one isn't careful you can spend more on supplies than it would cost to buy the plants.
As has been pointed out,here,there are many ways to do all this.Many different mediums,etc. I use a lot of Miracle Grow because I laid in a supply on sale.
Good luck
rose AKA Doris zone 5

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Thank you everyone for the awesome comments! I'll try them all out. I've been using water and milk jugs that I saved for winter sowing but never got cold enough here. All of my seeds are outside and doing great so far,almost time to tranplant my tomatoes into bigger pots. I've only had to bring them in once. Good luck this season and may you all have bountiful gardens this year!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:24PM
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