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Sterile seed starting medium?

Posted by Natures_Nature 5 OH (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 5, 13 at 0:51

I understand that a lot of people recommend, or even say its neccesary to sterlize or buy sterile seed starting medium for starting vegetable seedlings . I heard some even go as far as sterilize prebought "sterile" mixs a second time. The same people cringe at the thought of using compost, or garden soil for starting seedlings. Now i havent had a lot of experience starting my own seeds. But I find it really hard to believe that it's absolutely necessary to sterilize your seedling germination/growing medium. Its well know to thin,or remove the excess seedlings when you sow them to thickly in your garden. Beets are a good example because their is actually four seeds inside the seed capsule, so thinning is almost tedious. If the plants in nature doesn't need sterile soil, why does our seed starting medium need to be sterile? I understand, because its not in nature, its in your spare bedroom, or your windowsill inside a completely unatural house.. But nevertheless..

So, do you guys sterilize your seed starting soil?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

Not for vegetable seeds. The only reason at all is to limit the growth of weeds which germinate much faster than many ornamentals. Al


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

Thanks for your post Al. I know quite a few people who say its mandatory to start with sterile medium. What medium do you use?


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

Should it not depend, in part at least, upon how many seed you have, what is their value, and what is your purpose? My family were subsistence farmers. They collected a surplus of reliable seed and planted them in the dirt outside - non-sterilization worked for them. In contrast, I once paid $6 for three seed of a humongous squash so I started them in a sterilized medium hoping to protect my investment, as it were**.

**One did not germinate and some varmint got the other two so all my sterilization was a waste of time.

This post was edited by albert_135 on Thu, Dec 5, 13 at 17:49


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

I use regular seed starting mix. I've never sterilized anything. It's lack of airflow and overwatering that cause problems.

Also, outdoors there are soil critters and birds to take care of plant problems in outdoor soil. Use a bagged mix indoors.


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

I agree with susan's statement:

" It's lack of airflow and overwatering that cause problems. "

If you handle those issues correctly, you should be fine. Most infections (insects, fungal, bacterial ..) start from damp soil and stagnant air, where problems start.


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

I would like to be a subsistence farmer.. Im almost wondering if ill be better off just sowing the seeds in the ground(direct sowing).. After all, how much of a difference is there ?


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

After all, how much of a difference is there ?

Depends on the type of plant seed and your growing season. Not to mention, the quality of your soil.

For those further south with a much longer growing season than yours most anything can be direct seeded. Although some plants like tomatoes, eggplant, onions, and peppers won't do as well direct seeded as started from transplants - the ratio of seeds planted to plants that produce falls off substantially.

And, of course, some harvest will be delayed with direct seeding of those plants simply because you lose the jump-start gained with growing from seed indoors. The key IMO is to start only those varieties that truly benefit from it indoors and direct seed the rest.

Same holds true for some flower varieties - especially perennials which better survive and bloom earlier when started indoors..

But many common vegetables perform much 10x better when direct seeded anyway - leafy greens, beans, squash, cukes, corn, carrots, beets, turnips, etc. assuming you pay proper attention to soil temps for planting times.

True subsistence farming - if one has actual farm-sized space to work with and the time to devote to the crops and the knowledge to preserve those seasonal crops, is great and works well. But the average home gardener has neither the garden space nor the time required, not to mention the equipment and experience needed.

Dave


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

Dave, thanks so much for all your help, especially after my redundant post pertaining to the same subject in the vegetable forum...

" Although some plants like tomatoes, eggplant, onions, and peppers won't do as well direct seeded as started from transplants - the ratio of seeds planted to plants that produce falls off substantially."

I will definitely try to start those crops indoors.. However, if i'm not able to, how much of a difference are you talking? A few tomatoes, a whole crop? Do you get around the same yield, just later in the season? I'm more concerned with yield than i am using a few dozen more seeds. Still, it would be nice to save every seed i can, especially if sustenance growing..

"But many common vegetables perform much 10x better when direct seeded anyway - leafy greens, beans, squash, cukes, corn, carrots, beets, turnips, etc. assuming you pay proper attention to soil temps for planting times."

This is the info I'm looking for.. I would like to be as efficient as possible.

"True subsistence farming - if one has actual farm-sized space to work with and the time to devote to the crops and the knowledge to preserve those seasonal crops, is great and works well. But the average home gardener has neither the garden space nor the time required, not to mention the equipment and experience needed."

I understand it is highly unrealistic, especially on my not even quarter acre property.. I plan on foraging for a good bit of my food as well.. I just want to be as self-reliable as possible, nothings perfect.. I'm not to proud to go to the market and buy necessities.. It just feels good to have some backbone..


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

Isn't it better to pasteurize than sterilize? The reasoning, as I understand it, is that you kill pathogens, while not destroying beneficials. Usually this is done at 140 F in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour, I guess a bit higher than just pasteurization into 160-180 F for killing weed seeds. (I also think that smaller batches could be done in a pressure cooker inside of mason jars or similar, some people complain of the smell of pasteurizing soil, never bothered me). Killing the soil's beneficials is a bad idea since the baddies can come back faster than the good things finding their way back in, whereas if you just pasteurize and maintain the good things, they suddenly have even more medium to grow in faster, without competition from the bad guys.
Hope that explains it and that I am not wrong.

I will be posting my own seed starter question soon (making one's own veganic seed starter w/o peat, vermiculite or perlite),, hope others can help out.


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RE: Sterile seed starting medium?

With the starter mix you don't need to have beneficial micro organism. They will get all that when planted in the garden or container. So the point of sanitization is to help the newly germinated seedlings untl they develop their defense system.

Another reason is to avoid trying to fight bugs, fungi etc in an indoor condition. This is probably my most important concern.

BTW: has anybody used camomile tea to fight tiny bugs ? I have tried. It seems to work.


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