Ok. I am once again getting ready to order my seeds and I will be starting some indoors. (Mostly annuals for my containers, and some perennials as well) I have tried for 2 years to obtain some PRO-MIX. As I have read it is the BEST for seed starting... but I can NOT find it locally in the southwest metro of Minneapolis, and I refuse to pay $70 online for shipping! I have read some other posts who say Jiffy pots are also very good. And I can get them CHEAP, AND I am rather intrigued at the NO MESS possibility- no filling cells!!! So I wanted to know if any of you guys have tried them and the pro's and con's you have encountered.
I've tried a couple of different brands in the past and had the worst luck with the Jiffy brand. I can get the seeds started in them but once planted in the garden, the surround mesh seems to take forever to break down and the mix inside is difficult to re-wet when watering. Some roots seem to have a problem penetrating the mesh as well. I've dug up Jiffy's in the garden a couple of years after planting and they're still intact but the seedling long-gone. I've had a little better luck with some that I picked up at Menard's (don't know the brand name off the top of my head but I believe it's made with coir inside a thinner mesh) but I still cut away the mesh when it comes time to plant out.
Add me to the list of people who've had really bad luck with Jiffy pots. I had issues with damping off, primarily. And yes, like Cindy said, don't buy the idea that the pots will just biodegrade after planting--they don't. I, too, used them for annuals and pulled intact puts, mesh and all, out of the ground after the plants died because they couldn't take root.
There are two methods that I like--one is the old-fashioned way, adding sterile starting mix to pots or flats and planting. The other is the Burpee Ultimate Growing System. They changed it up this year, but it's still similar to what I have and like. Costs about $15-20 at garden centers for a 72-cell flat and system with a water reservoir, water wicking mat, and growing pellets. I've heard some complaints about the pellets, but I've never had any problem. The trick is to add HOT water SLOWLY to make them puff up. After they've puffed up, I fluff the starting mix a bit with a fork to make sure it's light and airy.