jiffy mix is too boggy for self-watering seed propogation

ydfz(deep south texas 9)November 27, 2012

hello friends

i have engineered some self-watering seed-starting trays for the coming season. they function similarly to how i would imagine the burpee ultimate growing system does (i mention this for reference only).

anyway, the system does a more than adequate job of maintaining a moist mix...in fact, it may do too good a job. the jiffy-mix i am used to using under a traditional seed-starting set-up now retains far too much moisture. jiffy-mix peat is quite finely shredded and so the tends to form a big, heavy, wet, non-porous brick. i'm sure the moisture-retentive vermiculite in the mix does little to help the situation either.

do you think i could remedy the problems with my seed starting mix by adding chunkier peat (i.e. bigger pieces from an actual bale) and maybe some perlite to make the stuff lighter and more porous? or should i ditch the jiffy-mix and start from scratch in order to have a vermiculite-free mix? i ask because i've never made my own seed-starting mix before and the only recipes i've found would probably tend to retain too much water in a self-watering environment.

help me! otherwise my precious little seed babies will be doomed!!!!

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Yes - add Perilite to open up the soil - will prevent mildew and rotting.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:04PM
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ydfz(deep south texas 9)

thanks for your advice.

anyway, i'm itching to make that leap of faith from jiffy-mix to a diy seed starting mix. perhaps a rite of passage from amateur to intermediate gardener? it sure feels like it. besides, jiffy-mix just seems too fine for my purposes (in its dry state it resembles dust--it's that finely shredded). in a self-watering set-up it just wicks too well and doesn't seem to aerate because it's a big soggy brick.

come to think of it, i had tremendous success starting seeds outside this september (in the sweltering dog days of summer here in south texas, i might add) in a 2-2-1 mixture of pine bark, peat, and coarse perlite (plus some dolomitic limestone). so i am assuming that something similar might work indoors as well (sans bark though). if seedlings flourished in that mix despite 95 degree heat then surely growing inside will be a cakewalk for them.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 12:18AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Have you looked at the problem from the other end? Could it be that your home made 'self watering' seed starting trays are not working efficiently rather than the mix being at fault? What is your design? Could you post a picture or diagram? Maybe you could do a control tray using a different mix and see if it is still too wet.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:40AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

There are different types of Jiffy-Mix. What one are you having issues with?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:51PM
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