Do I need to fertilize my plants? That can be a complicated question. Since I…
It is spring and everyone is getting ready for another fun season of growing your favorite vegetables. You want to get off to the best start possible and that means planing your seeds in the growing medium that will ensure happy seedlings. But what is the best soil to start seeds?
First thing is that using soil is not the only way to start seeds. There are many different mediums to use. We will review the most popular ones.
Seed Starting mixture
There are many commercially made seeds starting mixtures on the market. Not all the manufactures list the makeup of their mixture. However the most common ingredients include; coconut fiber, peat moss, perlite and some light fertilizer.
These mixtures are designed to be very light weight with good water retention. This is so your young seedlings can easily make it to the surface. Young seedlings can devote their energy to growing and not fighting the soil.
Seed starting mixtures are easy to get, and easy to use. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bag. Many recommend that you pre soak the mixtures to help the water remain even while starting your seeds.
I have had about the same luck with many different seed starting mixtures. If you want Organic, many companies offer that as an option.
Make sure you check out ” Organic vs non organic soil”
The negative of seed starting mixtures can be the expense. If you are doing a few flats then if can be very convenient. Doing a large amount of seeds can get expensive and you might be better off making your own bulk mixture.
Regular potting soil
I would advise against using regular potting soil. That being said, I have done it many times!
You can make any regular potting mixture into a seed mixture by adding something to the soil that will “lighten” it up. You can add some perlite, coconut coir, or peat moss. I have add saw dust and hydroponic balls in mine.
Your goal is to have a soil that is light and airy.
Beware of potting mixtures with fertilizers when starting seeds. Your young seedling can be harmed by too much fertilizer, even if it is organic. I have often used “old” potting soil, the stuff that does not have a lot of nutrients left. Make sure you sterilize the old soil by heating it to 180 degrees. You can easily do this in your oven. I think it is a great use of the soil that may not be great for regular potted plants.
As long as you add a bit of lightness, potting soil can be a good way to go and a good way to use older potting soil.
Many people start seed in a moist paper towel folded over. I will be honest I only tried this once and without much success.
To set seeds in a paper towel, or coffee filter, you need to wet the paper towel. The towel should wet but not dripping.
Place the seeds about 2″ apart on the towel, then place a second wet towel on top.
Put the whole thing into a plastic clear bag, like a sandwich bag. The bag acts as a greenhouse for the seedlings.
Place the bag in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
When the seedlings sprout and have about on 1″ of root, carefully transfer the seedlings from the paper towel into soil.
This transfer can be difficult. You need to be very gentle. Make a hole that is much bigger than the plant. Carefully place the root into the hole, then cover gently.
The nice thing about the paper towel method is that you can see the seeds geminate so there is no waiting and wondering. The difficulty in this method is that the seedlings are really hard to transfer.
The seed pucks as soil to start seeds
The little seed pucks that are wrapped in mesh are sold as an easy self contained seed start method. The seed pucks expand as they are watered giving the seedlings room to grow. Most pucks are filled with coconut coir which will expand several times its dry size. The mesh full of your seedling and soil are then planted directly into the garden.
I have found that they work no better then just starting with a regular planting method. Also the pucks tend to expand inconsistently making the seedlings tip over or grow slanted.
These pucks also tend to be expensive if you are planting large quantities. Lastly the mess does not always break down as designed.
So all in all these are very popular for the easy of starting but I don’t like the performance or cost.
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A seed blocker is a little brick of soil that you make yourself with any of several tools on the market.
The theory behind these seem counterproductive since we have talked about seeds and seedlings needing light weight soil, however, many people believe in this method and find great success.
Seed blocking in a pot less method on compressing a small amount of soil into a tight block. With the right moisture content the block will hold together. Seed blocks are very small to start, best start at about 3/4 inch.
You place your seed into the block. As the seedling grows it receives nutrients from the soil and the air the roots need from the fact that the block is small and pot less. The roots can breath thru all the surface area created in the soil without being in a pot.
When the roots grow out of the sides and bottom you can drop the small block into a block that is a bit bigger. These large blocks are designed so that the smaller block can sit inside without “transplanting” the plant. This increasing of size continues until your plants are ready for the garden. You can drop them right into the ground or final pot without disturbing the roots at all.
There are lots of reasons this can be considered on of the best soils to start seeds. You can use different kinds of soil with great success. It is perfect for small spaces because the “pots” you start the seeds in is very small. You make as many as you need with the use of a tool which is easy to DIY or you can purchase for a reasonable price at most places that sell soil.
I think the best part of this method is that you never have to disturb your plant’s roots when you transfer them.
I hope you found some new information here to inspire your garden. Please let me know your thoughts and what you think is the best soil to start seeds
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