Help: Veganic Seed Starter Mix from Scratch w/o Peat, Perlite, Ve

djmasturbeat(5-Cbus,OH)December 11, 2013

So as the title suggests, I want to make a Vegan Organic Seed Starter Mix from Scratch w/o Peat, Perlite, or Vermiculite.
NB: this means also no bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, fish emulsion, or shell fish, or other slaughterhouse products.
I am not be dead-set against manures and guano, but I don't even have rabbits around to collect their droppings (no parks nearby either), and horses are even more far-fetched -- I live in the city. Cow manure and chicken droppings I would prefer to avoid for several reasons, mostly b/c most cows/chickens these days are fed antibiotic-laden GMO crap, and lead lives in cages, very unhealthy and full of disease, if nothing else. If anyone has a suggestion for cheap, reliable manure/guano that avoids factory farm waste, then please advise

Most of the vegan organic mix formulas I find are almost all Peat, perlite and vermiculite, in various mixes of these three, and perhaps have smaller amounts of other things. For environmental reasons, I wish to avoid these three, as they are all pretty unsustainable, especially the peat industry, I have found recipes for ones just including perlite, along with many more sustainable ingredients, and I suppose i could do that, but I would prefer to avoid all of these three.

thanks for anyone with serious replies and discussion

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Wow you have set quite a difficult chore for yourself with all the restrictions.

Clearly you have made some very debatable claims/assumptions but if, for purposes of this discussion, we assume all your arguments are valid then the logical sub for peat is coconut coir, for vermiculite, coarse sand, and for perlite, polystyrene beads. But then all of them also have some negative claims made against using them.

Your real problem is going to be providing nutrients in some form usable by the plants. Several brands of pasteurized manures and guano (ie:bat) are available but AFAIK there is no guarantees given as to the sources of them. As an urban dweller local zoos often offer various types of zoo-poo for sale and there are always the various sea harvested sources - seaweed/kelp/fish oil blends - available.

You can take up composting or better yet vermicomposting and thus be assured of the ingredients but you will need to also add the soil microorganisms needed to convert them to a useable form. Have you considered hydroponics? That would be the simplest way to eliminate most all of your concerns.

Hope this helps in some way.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 6:33PM
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thanks for the response =)
The claims are not all mine, I really got it from elsewhere in the webs; the peat seems to be a generally agreed upon non-sustainable practice.

for a quick summary of some of this, you can see this blog post, and research more and make your own conclusions. I am not here to convert anyone :)

I do compost like crazy, always have, and have recently started a vermiculture worming bin (plastic tote with holes drilled in it, red wrigglers given to me by a friend) in the basement for inside compost in winter (minus really wet stuff and citrus, which go outside in the garden compost).
I have used this in potting soil, and it is basically amended with soil from the garden, which I would hope has some of the micro organisms needed. I pasteurize it a bit. As I understand it, pasteurizing kills more pathogens and keeps beneficial bacteria, etc.
I want to get some mycorrhizae when I have a bit of spare cash.

as much as I would like to for the winter time especially, hydro is really cost prohibitive for me. I am on a really small budget, I do the real poor man plan for everything.

Thanks again for you answer. I assumed already I would be using coir in the mix, and likely sand and green sand, and looking for more ideas if anyone else has any.
I do also have some azomite rock dust I bought long ago in a huge bag, fwiw.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 7:03PM
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jacqueinthegorge(USDA 8 / Sunset 5)

People used to use sand for seed starting. You'd have to get the correct size of sand, otherwise you'll have water issues, either too much or too little. I believe leaf mold was also used, and all you need to make your own is a source of leaves and black plastic bags. Keep in mind, there are good reasons why few - if any - people still use sand and leaf mold. You'll have lots of failures on the way to learning how to use them with any degree of success. Look for gardening books from before WWII for how it was done.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 12:39PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The claims are not all mine, I really got it from elsewhere in the webs; the peat seems to be a generally agreed upon non-sustainable practice.

Yes I'm aware of all the controversy and various claims on the issue. It isn't new. It is often discussed on the many forums here and has been around for many years.

I don't know which of the many blogs you are referring to as you didn't include a link, but any blog is just one person's opinion. So do please be aware that there are just as many well-documented and science-based arguments for the other side of the coin. The truth about all the claims, like so many things in life, likely lies somewhere in between the two extreme positions. :)

For example, some of the same "limited resource" claims are made about both green sand and azomite so it would seem that if we buy into all the claims completely we find out hands are tied up well.

I would agree with you on the up-front cost of hydroponics except that some research shows that there are some really inexpensive DIY set-up plans available if you are at all handy with tools. Just something to consider.

And of course, costs of any approach is affected by the scale of production we desire. Sometimes 'less' actually is 'more'.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 1:19PM
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jacqueinthegorge , thanks for the reply. I will see if I can find any older gardening or farming information. I defintely have some leaves to use, I just helped some family rake their huge yards and carted all their leaves back to my place after I finished. Quite the score of leaves =)
I need to get some builder's sand anyhow for my garden, loosen the soil up.

digdirt, unfortunately I don't have many tools either, to build my own hydro setup, just a corded power drill, some screwdrivers and a hammer and a large monkey wrench and some other real basic things.
the link I added must have been removed. not really any consequence. I agree that blogs are hardly the end of the discussion for anything. I am not so dead-set against using perlite and vermiculite as I am against peat, I am just trying to do things more sustainably. I agree that the azomite is probably in the same boat, the batch I have I bought ages ago. anyhow, i am not out to convert or even argue this =)

thanks again, both of you

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 2:23PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

So, what are your ingredient? Haven't figured it out yet ?

I am using fine screened from pine barks instead of peat. But I am also using perlite w/it too. I could've eliminated perlite on a trial basis.

Some times ago I mixed in some very dry, finely crushed fall leaves.
Germination is not a problem. You can do it without ANY medium. All needed is moisture. But them what you do after germination ?. Even then the medium can consist of different things. Now the task is to supply nutrients to the root system.

We use soil as medium because of its abundance and that is what most plants grow out there in the nature around us.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 2:40PM
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thanks for the response =)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 2:49PM
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thanks for the response =)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 3:11PM
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