Commercial potting soil is so expensive! Make your own! Seed starting mix is one place to start.
Here’s my bucket. I mix it up in the barn and bring it down to the seed starting room..
Notice the surgical gloves. Nice touch for a less than scientific approach. Here’s the basic recipe I use:
1/3 part of peat moss
1/3 part of vermiculite or perlite
1/3 part of compost (or half compost and half screened garden soil)
Mix thoroughly and water down well with warm water. It takes a while to soak it all up. This recipe is Master Gardener Approved! Except that I don’t sterilize the soil, or my pots. Is that bad? I dunno. So far it’s been working for me! You do need to find a way to fertilize things after a few weeks. I haven’t really mastered that part. This year I want to make an effort to do that.
The other trick I’ve learned over the years–key to success–is to keep the lights low down over the trays. I mean right on top of the plastic dome! Close. Then raise the lights only to clear the tops of the plants. Brushing the tops of the plants with your hand now and again is also important. I use regular shop lights–not the special uva/uvb ones. And I keep the lights on 24/7 much to the chagrin of the energy-saving doode. But I don’t have a timer that fits my current set up. And things seem to grow just fine with day and night light.
One special indulgence that really works–a seed heating mat for the tomatoes and peppers! And I do have a self watering set up that my mom donated. It’s pretty cool–but the roots can grow into the capillary mat if you leave it too long!! Beware! It pains me to rip those healthy roots out. Last year I had really long healthy roots that had found their way down into the water reservoir! Whoops.
All this is to say–final big point about seed starting–they’re seeds, and they really want to LIVE! They’ll take about any chance they get. So relax, and have fun!
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