For a long time, I thought that seed packets were a money trap. I would venture to say that most people that buy seeds they see at the store, actually have very little yields to show. (At least I was in that category.) It has taken A LOT of reading and learning to figure out how to correctly sow seeds.
I bought the black seed trays, filled them with dirt, threw in some seeds and most of the time they sprouted. I would carefully pull out the seedlings and put them in the garden bed at the right time, and sometimes the plant grew, but most of the time, it did not.
I’ve also planted at all times of the years not paying much attention to what is required of the plant. Being in zone 9a is VERY different than being in zone 7. But this year was different. For the first time I think I finally have a handle on what it means to start from seed.
Seed Starting Medium
I decided to experiment with store bought seed starting soil and making my own. Long story short, it is so much better to make it! (And that is what all the blogs I have read said…)
I bought two bags of this seed starting mix for about $24 at a local nursery. It feels wonderful in your hands, like crumbly cake. However, after about two weeks, I noticed a white film growing on the top. Not to mention the price for only 16 quarts, I was only able to fill 4 trays.
At the same time, I made just as much seed starting soil for 4 more trays. Hands down, this is the way to go! I had all of the materials on hand, but this is what I had previously purchased:
8 parts- Coco Coir (~15)–this is my favorite brand of coco coir!!!
1 part- Vermiculite (~$21)
1 part- Perlite (~$17)
I know…$50 seems like a lot of money to start seeds, but I did not even make a dent in these bags. As I mentioned, I already had all of this on hand because I use them when making my own soil or amending soil.
I have a big 2 quart scoop (8 cups). I use that for the coco coir (make sure this is damp before starting), and an 8 ounce cup (free from some restaurant) to measure the one part of perlite and vermiculite. I put the lid on the bucket and shook it up until it was thoroughly mixed.
I just love how this feels! Best of all, 4 weeks later, and their was no fungus growing on the top! Something to note about using this…once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, you have to add some fertilizer. I use a fish/kelp organic fertilizer that stinks up the ENTIRE garage, but so far has done me well.