seed startinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
What does everyone use to start your seeds???? Potting soil? Peat stuff? Just curious what works the best at the best price. Last year I used potting soil from WalMart. About 10 of the big bags. 4 flats of tomato plants (70 plants per flat) grew to about 2 inches then died. I watered with a little fish emulsion to get them going and I ended up with 3 producing plants. It seemed like some stuff got started great and others just didn't want to grow. I went the potting soil route because it was a lot cheaper than other starters and I grow organically so I can't use anything with additives. I guess I'm looking for some ideas on what to use or what to add to potting soil to make it better and I trust you guys more than all the advertising claims in the catalogs. Thanks, Stace
-- Stacey (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002
Stacey, I would suggest that you go with a better quality potting soil. I tried using something very akin to what you used and got similar results. I figured that my seedlings got damping off or something akin to it, due to the poor quality of the potting mix I was using.
Since I have been using better quality potting soils and adding in additives, like my own compost and some soil from where they will be planted, my results have been very good.
-- BC (email@example.com), January 04, 2002.
Stacey, You've experienced the same disappointment so many before you have seen. After all the effort of starting seeds and waiting sometimes 4 weeks, they die off due to virus or bacterial agents. I get so mad at myself when this happens because I know better than to just some bag of potting soil from Home Depot or K-mart. I prefer to use STEAM STERILIZED African Violet potting soil. It works perfectly everytime. But I have not been able to find it for nearly 2 years now. So I make a mix of sphagnum moss and perlite or vermiculite. As the seeds emerge and produce the first set of true leaves, I start adding two fertilizers to my water bottle: Schultz houseplant liquid and Roots Plus liquid fertilizer for seedlings (from one of those mail order catalogs, tho I can't remember the name off hand). This gets the seedlings off to a great start and gives them quite an advantage once they are set out in the garden. But its just not worth losing 3 or 4 weeks lead time by using regular potting soil to begin seeds.
-- Dwight (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002.
I talked to some friends have have been gardening for many years and they told me to make sure to get a soiless potting mix (or make my own). I purchased some - specifically for seed starting and had very good results.
-- Trisha-MN (email@example.com), January 04, 2002.
I'm with BC. My sister starts the most beautiful vegtable starts right in her living room window versus me who can not seem to get anything to grow (except children) under 10 days old. She always mixes her potting soil or seed starter with her own compost and soil from her garden. She puts some inside in the garage in the fall. When early spring comes she mixes everything from the garage with the potting soil and her plants do wonderfully. She has rescued me more than one time with new starts ready to go into the ground. Marie
-- Marie (Mamafila@aol.com), January 04, 2002.
I just spend the money and get the commercial seed start mix. I've had too many seedlings dampen off in regular potting soil, and it's heartbreaking to go to all the trouble of getting them seeded, watching them start, then see them blacken around the stem and die off. I like to start seeds right in the 3 inch pots, I will put soil mixed with a dose of composted sheep manure in the bottom, and then top off the top inch with the seed mix. I also make sure that the pots are kept evenly moist, not too much water, not letting them dry out. Works very well.
Timely question, I just planted 177 geranium seeds. My dining room has been taken over by trays that I got at a yard sale. I also got a box full of heavy vinyl tablecloths from a restaurant sale, they are handy for all kinds of things; right now protecting my table and chairs and the top shelf of a set of shelves that the trays are resting on. Once the seedlings are off and running they'll be out to the greenhouse, but to get them going they need to be kept warm.
-- Chelsea (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002.
I like to use a mix of peat, vermiculite and a tiny bit of soil if any. I've had very good results with the little peat tablets that you soak with water to expand. So much easier to plant them too. It's not a cheap way to go if you're starting 100s of plants though. I think it's not so much the soil but the care after the seed is planted. You need to make sure the stays moist but not too wet. You can't let it dry out even one time. I usually cover everything with saran wrap and leave it on as long as I can. I don't use any fertilizers or supplements for seedlings until about one week before planting and it's not really necessary. Just a tiny bit of miracle-gro or schultz plant food. I wouldn't put fish emulsion on seedlings, nitrogen can easily burn them. They also need a reasonable amount of sunlight and soil warmth even as they're sprouting. Many seeds won't even sprout without that.
Tomatoes are pretty easy starters, in just about any kind of soil. Seeing how they grew to 2" and then died, I'd think it was more of a situation with sunlight, water or fertilzer rather than the soil they were growing in. Also a chance that the seeds were put in too deep in the soil.
-- Dave (email@example.com), January 04, 2002.
I think the problem with potting soil is there's too much clay content in it. More strain on the seedlings to get started in it. Tougher to control the moisture. Try using all peat in your trays, don't overwater and keep saran wrap on it until the plants start touching it. Distilled water unless you have good well water that's not hard or connected to a softener. No additives. Keep the soil 70-85 degrees and as much indirect sun as possible once they get started
-- Dave (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002.
I've used peat also and it worked great. Have also used a starter mix too. I always water my seedlings from the bottom and let the "soil" soak it in. I've saved those big plastic trays that you buy plants in and add the water to them. Haven't had any trouble this way.
-- Annie (email@example.com), January 04, 2002.
I use promix and get it from a local greenhouse. I try to get a bale of it each year. It is a mixture of peat moss, perilite, and vermiculite.Start your plants with it but all the potting soil in the world won't grow you pretty plants if they don't have enought light and keep those plant close to them while they are small. No need to ferilize until you get your first set of true leaves Promix is great for container plant, i just add a little rabbit manure, bone meal and give them a shot of fish emulsion every couple of weeds and watch them grow. Good luck
-- sherry (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002.
I work in a nursery and we use Promix there. I started using it at home a couple years ago and have had overwhelming good luck with it. We sell it at the nursery where I work and I'm sure many other nurseries do also. We sell half-bales too, so check around for someone in your area who may do likewise. (You could also see if any of your friends or relations might want to split a bale with you.)
-- Sheryl in ME (email@example.com), January 04, 2002.
I used the "Wally World" potting soil last year to start mine, they were doing beautifully and then out of nowhere several died due to dampening off. I'm thinking of ordering Park's potting plugs in the little "mini greenhouse" this year. It was so disappointing to have my seedlings die after I worked to lovingly hard to grow them.
-- Sharon (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 04, 2002.